Since launching in 2019, the curatorial platform Object & Thing has continued to move forward the ways we view art and design, not least with its captivating, site-specific installations at design heritage sites, like the Eliot Noyes House and Gerald Luss House, which were a balm during pandemic times, in particular. This year, founder Abby Bangser’s latest undertaking puts the spotlight on two female practitioners; textile artist Megumi Shauna Arai and ceramicist Frances Palmer, who will exhibit new bodies of work at the Madoo Conservancy, the former summer house and studio of the writer, artist and poet Robert Dash (on view until 25 June 2022).

Located in Sagaponack on Long Island, the home is especially well known for its lush and horticulturally diverse garden, and stands as a tribute to Dash’s work, imagination and green thumb.

Object & Thing at Madoo Conservancy

Red room at Madoo conservancy
The red living room at Madoo with an installation of wood-fired pots by Frances Palmer as part of the Object & Thing exhibition

‘I have long known about Madoo as a magical garden and wonderfully preserved historic home of Robert Dash. Yet, I only finally made it for the first time last spring with my family when we were looking for more outdoor places to visit during the pandemic,’ recalls Bangser. ‘As we did at the former home of Harvard Five architect and industrial designer Eliot Noyes in New Canaan, Connecticut, and in the Ossining, New York, former home of Gerald Luss, most known as the designer of the interiors of Time-Life building in 1959, we are able to present a new take on a historic home by bringing the visions of contemporary artists and designers to dialogue in these spaces that have been so thoughtfully considered by their past owners. I was searching for another of these special places in a new area that was still connected to the New York City community.’

Set within the intimate atmosphere of the Madoo Conservancy, the tactility of both Arai’s and Palmer’s work takes on an amplified quality. Palmer’s wood-fired vessels and their brightly coloured glazes command a presence of their own while installed in Dash’s red living room, while Arai’s naturally dyed and hand-stitched textile hangings respond to Dash’s poetry in their calligraphic-style stitching – also a nod to the Japanese poet Mitsuo Aida, a key influence.

Exhibition space at madoo conservancy
Kami Chassé and Jeté Dō by Megumi Shauna Arai, and a wall installation of wood-fired pots by Frances Palmer on the walls of the summerhouse studio at Madoo for the Object & Thing exhibition

‘Both Arai’s and Palmer’s materials and practices are deeply informed by the natural world, and floral material specifically – so to see their work in dialogue with Madoo was immediately of interest,’ Bangser adds. ‘Both artists are extremely dedicated to the research, processes and materials in the making of their work. The natural dyes Arai has used are very much at home in a garden environment.

‘She has dyed the cotton and linen fabrics with up to ten dye vats for each piece and much of this material comes from trees and flowers such as walnut, cosmos and marigold. The noren [fabric dividers] that are suspended from the summerhouse studio’s beams are hung from mulberry branches harvested from the Madoo gardens this spring. 

columns in the red living room at Madoo House
The red living room at Madoo with a wood-fired pot by Frances Palmer as part of the Object & Thing exhibition

‘Similarly, Palmer carefully considered the bold colours found at Madoo in working on the glazes for her pots. The oribe and cobalt glazes are particularly at home at Madoo. Throughout the exhibition, the vases will have flowers from either the gardens at Madoo or Palmer’s own garden in Connecticut. Each of Palmers’ pots is fired at her own kiln, using the wood from her property.’

Bangser concludes, ‘I saw Madoo as an opportunity, given the scale of the summerhouse studio space, to present a more focused exhibition with these two artists and allow for a more in-depth look at their practices. I was excited to present together the work of two women artists from different generations who are inspired by nature and uniquely devoted to the process of making.’ §

Exhibition space at madoo conservancy
A table of wood-fired pots by Frances Palmer and Hoshi Tempo by Megumi Shauna Arai in the summerhouse studio at Madoo for the Object & Thing exhibition
Red room at Madoo conservancy
Wood-fired pots by Frances Palmer in the red living room
flowers in vases by Frances Palmer

Wood-fired pots by Frances Palmer on the central tables for the Object & Thing exhibition in the summerhouse studio at Madoo

pot on shelf
A wood-fired white stoneware Cycladic-inspired vase with tenmoku, nuka and kaki glazes by Frances Palmer, installed on the wall in the summerhouse studio at Madoo for the Object & Thing exhibition,