Bompass & Parr: Monumental Masonry

Celebrating Death with an Exhibition of Modern Mausolea at Sir John Soane’s Museum

‘We’re going for an air of [solemnity], but also of celebration,’ Sam Bompass of Bompass and Parr told us about their upcoming exhibition of funerary architecture competition winners’. Monumental Masonry will be hosted at Sir John Soane’s Museum, where ten models of tombs and mausolea, designed by leading architects, interior designers and product designers, will be displayed.

You might be worried that, considering the topic of the show, this will be quite a somber affair. Don’t be! In addition to the displays, there will be a live hermit in the Soane’s cell, cocktails from beyond the grave, stonemasonry, DIY bitters made with visitor’s tears, drinks served from a skull chalice and candlelit tours of the Soane’s crypt.

‘For the cocktails we used our psychic to contact history’s foremost (dead) bartenders for their previously undocumented recipes,’ Sam told us. ‘She’s been channeling the mighty Harry Craddock.

We spoke inspiration, judging process and favourite pieces with Sam:

The Plus: What inspired this project and how did you collaboration with Sir John Soane’s Museum come about?
Sam Bompass:
We were interested in the impact of changing attitudes to death will have on the future of funerary architecture. We approached Sir John Soane’s Museum to host the exhibition as Soane had a particular interest in funerary architecture and monumental masonry.

TP: What was the judging process like?
Phenomenally interesting. The panel was drawn from a broad spectrum of disciplines including architectural critics, stonemasons, cultural strategists, palliative care experts and charity chief executives all with a particular interest and insight into death, dying and architecture. It meant that the debates around the table were incredibly illuminating as the judges shared.

TP: Which monument really stands out for you?
For me the favourite is A Sublime Death by Chris Parrott. Any monument that takes inspiration from “the forces witnessed in John Martin Paintings” is a real delight. I only wonder how practicable it is to build given that it’s over 100 ft high!

TP: What do you hope to inspire visitors to think about through the exhibition?
I’d like the installation to act as a moment mori, inspiring visitors to reflect on their own lives and seize the day.

Monumental Masonry exhibition opens from 6 December 2014 to 3 January 2015, at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London.