I Scream for Architecture

Sam Jacob brings delightful designs to London exhibition

Empire of Ice Cream No. 11, 2011-2018 Ink on graph paper (Sam Jacob/Courtesy Betts Project)

Empire of Ice Cream is an exhibition of 13 meticulously filled graph paper drawings and three small sculptures created by Sam Jacob at Betts Project in London. The carefully drawn images in the gallery are generated from “remnants of architectural plans gathered from an assortment of historic and contemporary references.” Jacob’s drawings were conceived between 2011 and 2019 and resemble historic city or urban design plans: segments from Ancient Greek temples, football pitches, something Meisian, parts of a church, orchards, fountains, straightforward corridors, a chunk of Parliament, and a Buzzcock’s single cover.

Photo of artwork by Sam Jacob

A False Description of the Thing Destroyed by Sam Jacob, 2015. Materials: 3rd Century BC Greek ceramic shard, plasticine (Sam Jacob/Courtesy Betts Project)

They stand in Jacob’s claims “for the effect of seeing fragments of architecture and our ability to recollect.” The small sculptures or objects in the show are also remnants of Jacob’s memories, but seem to be personal “art” objects, unlike the drawings that have a long pedagogical and construction history in architecture research.

Jacob is developing a recognizable hand drawing style that is moving his ideas beyond the single architectural object or drawing into urban design and a new take on postmodern urban planning and city making. It needs to be noted that Betts Project is becoming one of the most important independent venues for contemporary architecture today.

The exhibition runs through March 9.

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