Ceramics Research Centre – UK

DreamWork: A Research Project and Exhibition by Christie Brown

LOCATION | The Freud Museum

DATE | 23 November 2012 – 10 February 2013

Christie Brown’s exhibition entitled DreamWork was held at the Freud Museum, Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 in November 2013. It attracted a large audience with a range of responses and several noted reviews. 


This research project was inspired by the archaic and ancient archaeological fragments contained in museums and the narratives they can suggest, as well as an interest in the significance and importance of objects in our lives. The Freud Museum in north London is the house in which Freud spent the last 18 months of his life. The interior of the study where he worked contains his large collection of ceramic and bronze figurines from ancient Egypt and Classical Rome which reflect his deep interest in the discipline of archaeology where layers are carefully stripped away to reveal a hidden fragmented treasure. Freud used the archaeology metaphor as a way of understanding the psychoanalytic process and making it more accessible to the general public.  As a figurative artist, I was intrigued by the significance and nature of Freud’s collection of over three thousand figurines as well as the notion that, as the receptacles for human emotions, such objects have a life of their own.

The title of the show DreamWork implied a narrative slightly out of our control where unlikely connections and associations can occur. My ceramic figures made slight reference to Freud’s definitions of the term ‘dream-work’, such as displacement, representation, condensation and compensation.  After studying a small and rather neglected selection of figures which are partly hidden in a case in Freud’s study, I remade these characters and foregrounded them, allowing them to invade the exhibition room upstairs which was once Freud’s bedroom. In this installation, entitled Sleepover, the dream world that is activated when we fall asleep was echoed by the idea that objects come to life when we are not looking, hinting at an uncanny animated narrative that had been interrupted but which may have resumed at any time when we left the room.

Other smaller works also referred to the archaeology metaphor such as My Desk – a collection of personal reference objects that inform my practice, I Pray Again, Again… a large group of small porcelain children cast from modern day ex-voto figures and Eros, who inevitably lay on the couch in need of some coherent inner structure. A small group of shabti faience figures based on my own teddy bear completed this intervention.

See www.christiebrown.co.uk for more images.

Sleepover (detail), 2012, ceramic
Peter Teddy Shabti (detail), 2006, egyptian faience
I Pray Again, Again (detail), 2012, porcelain and wax

All photographs ©Philip Sayer