Follow The Luck of Eden Hall

Explore the artworks throughout the Residence of the British High Commissioner to Singapore

About this display

These artworks from the UK Government Art Collection have been selected to showcase exciting new and established artists from across Great Britain and to reflect on the splendour and stories of Eden Hall. Built in 1904, the building shares its name with an exquisite 14th century glass beaker from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – The Luck of Edenhall. Inspired by the worldwide travels of this vitreous vessel that echo the activities of the global Collection, the display highlights themes and effects tied to transparency, reflections, cultural exchanges and transformation in a range of artistic media dating from the 19th century to today.

exterior of a residence

Exterior of Eden Hall, Singapore. © Crown Copyright

Eden Hall was built in 1904 for merchant Ezekiel Saleh Manasseh from a design by R. A. J. Bidwell, who also designed the Raffles Hotel (1887) and the Goodwood Park Hotel (1900). It is however the name of the building that this display playfully references, telling a story that takes us around the world, and ends in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. There, a small glass beaker is displayed, decorated with a scrolling motif outlined in gold and filled with red, blue, green and white enamel. It is known as The Luck of Edenhall and dated from the 14th century, probably from Syria or Egypt. This vessel ended up in the North of England and was named in the 17th century. The name is linked to superstitious beliefs that were attributed to such ancient artefacts in the region. In this case the cup was believed to have been dropped by fairies who called out ‘If this cup should break or fall, Farewell the luck of Edenhall‘.

Painted glass beaker

The Luck of Edenhall, 14th century, glass beaker © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Luck of Edenhall is over 600 years old and its condition and longevity make it a prized piece amongst the V&A’s glass collection. The building of Eden Hall itself references the influence of decorative ceramics and glass celebrated at the museum. The outside of this early 20th century villa is embellished with motifs, picked out in white that evoke the famous matt Jasperware of British pottery, Wedgewood (founded 1759).

The new display includes two sculptures in the Entrance Hall made by very different artists in the Government Art Collection, both born in other countries before making the UK their home. One is a sculpture by French artist Henri Gaudier-Brezska, who established himself in London in 1910. His carved vessel was commissioned through the groundbreaking Omega Workshop started by Roger Fry in collaboration with Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It is constructed with arm-like forms, with crude human faces holding a bowl; another of these bronze editions is held by the Tate. The second sculpture is a waterpiece by the acclaimed Singaporean-British artist Kim Lim, made of five curvilinear basins stacked one atop another. Born in 1936 in Singapore, she headed to London at the age of 18 to attend Central St Martin’s School of Art.

Throughout the house you will find works that reference vessels and glass, from the rubbings of windows in Victorian homes by Anna Barriball, to the print Still Life with Artificial Flowers by Hurvin Anderson, a homage to his British-Caribbean heritage featuring his mother’s prized vase that travelled from Jamaica to the UK with her. Look out for Robin Megannity’s strange composite vessel, created from digitally manipulating internet images and then meticulously painted. Howard Hodgkin’s Venice Evening brings us back to the journey of the original Luck of Edenhall, which surely will have passed through Venice, a hub of international trade mixing cultures and customs from East to West. The art work links back to both The Luck of Eden Hall and the house, Eden Hall, the vessel of this display, and itself an ornament and testament to British cultural connections across the world.