The exuberantly decorated Embankment venue has a new exhibition, all about glass.
Two Temple Place is a venue so stunning that it could put on an exhibition of soiled underpants and still draw an audience. The former home of William Waldorf Astor boasts one of London's most thrilling interiors with neo-Gothic flourishes at every turn.
It's a curious space in which to mount an exhibition. Galleries usually opt for plain white walls so that their artworks shine out. Here, the opposite can happen. The background is so appealing that your vision will be shifting backwards and forwards like you're attending a particularly opulent eye-examination.
The latest exhibition, showcasing UK artworks made of glass, contains much to pull you into its foreground. I mean, how often do you walk past a glass fire extinguisher:
Exhibits span the past 170 years of British glassmaking — an art form I can't say I'd previously given much thought to. There's plenty to get excited about, from memories of the Crystal Palace (which housed the world's first stained glass exhibition) to the Arts and Crafts work of Edward Burne-Jones, and on to modern works, sometimes of the most exquisite craftsmanship.
Some of the pieces are not as transparent as they seem. This day-glow glass chair makes for a quirky corner piece, but read the description and you discover that its a comment on the threat of nuclear disaster.
The main room upstairs comes with its own in situ stained glass. This houses some of the more inventive pieces in the exhibition, some of which you wouldn't suspect of being crystalline at all.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable mix of quirky artworks in a stunning building. Very much worth 30 minutes of your time.
Try to avoid turning up with a heavy rucksack, as I did. Given the eminently breakable nature of the exhibition, they ask you to carry bags in-hand or on your front. And I would really, really advise not bringing along small children (or accident prone adults).
The Glass Heart at Two Temple Place is free to visit and you don't need to book. Runs. until 21 April 2024, open Tuesday to Sunday. Check site for opening times. Nearest tube station: Temple.