I'm still mesmerized by the "sea sculpture" Amelia Handegan discovered at the Charleston International Antiques Show. Salvaged from a shipwreck, explains Susan Sully, Handegan's intriguing object is comprised of 16th-century Thai ceramic bowls that became fused to natural coral after sitting at the bottom of the ocean for two centuries.
If I ever find myself in a position to acquire something like this at auction, I'll jump at the chance. (That's a huge if.) But I don't plan to hot glue any Asian bowls to a piece of coral. The appeal of sea sculptures is the story behind them. The improbability of their survival. Also, the accidental nature of the fusion makes them more beautiful, at least to me. Having said that, I can see Tony Duquette doing this on purpose.
It is believed that fire caused the 18th-century Ca Mau shipwreck, and that heat from the blaze fused numerous tea bowls and vases together. The piece above was auctioned by Sotheby's in 2007; today the V & A owns it. Click here to learn more about shipwreck ceramics.
Image two above © The Southern Cosmopolitan: Sophisticated Southern Style by Susan Sully, Rizzoli New York, 2009.