Felicity Powell: Charmed Life

Edwardian collector Edward Lovett amassed over 1,400 charms and keepsakes during his lifetime, some of which are currently on show at the Wellcome Collection in London. Curating the exhibition is artist Felicity Powell, whose series of intricate works in wax are also shown alongside these uniquely human objects

Detail from one of Felicity Powells wax artworks

Edwardian collector Edward Lovett amassed over 1,400 charms and keepsakes during his lifetime, some of which are currently on show at the Wellcome Collection in London. Curating the exhibition is artist Felicity Powell, whose series of intricate works in wax are also shown alongside these uniquely human objects…

Charmed Life: The Solace of Objects features 400 of the amulets that Lovett collected until his death in 1933. For her part, Powell is exhibiting a series of white and red wax pieces modelled in low relief on the backs of mirrors.

She works the imagery directly on the mirror surface, with the basic form laid down in wax and then worked into shape by hand.

Powell has also produced a lovely seven-minute film which shows her working on these small-scale pieces and how, as with the magical properties once invested in Lovett’s charms, the wax also appears to have a life of its own. The film, Sleight of Hand, is here on the Wellcome website and well worth a look.

Below are two more of Powell’s individual wax-on-mirror pieces from the show (a detail from one is shown top), followed by stills from the Sleight of Hand film. The exhibition runs until February 26 and more details can be found at wellcomecollection.org.

“Powell filmed the making-of her own small-scale works in wax with an overhead camera, revealing how they take shape, and playing with the sense that making and engaging with objects is in itself rather like being under a spell,” runs the introductory text to Charmed Life exhibition website. The scale of the projection offers a counterbalance to the intricacy of the waxes themselves and allows the possibility of revealing things that are otherwise hard to see with the naked eye.”

The following stills are taken from Powell’s film, shown on the Wellcome site, here.

  • These are so beautiful. The show (combined with the Mexican Votive paintings) is really lovely- more low key than the past few big Wellcome shows. Still one of my absolute favourite places in London.

  • Lovely technique it has an ethereal quality. Reminiscent of strange things in Victorian display cabinets brought back from lands afar. Has the element of curiosity for the quiet voyeur, like looking into something secret and special.

  • Nice work and very interesting concept. the visual effect is stunning.

  • Liz Williams

    I saw this exhibition today and it is fascinating – thank you so much for putting on such an interesting and evocative display.