Table top talent!

A close look at an heraldic device made of napkins, raw silk and clay. The creatures are guarding the fountain, the symbol of life.

My partner’s party trick of creating a trussed oven-ready chicken out of a folded napkin must pale into insignificance compared with the rather unique exhibition currently entertaining and amazing visitors to the Holburne Museum in Bath.

A table centre-piece in the form of mountains by Joan Sallas
A table centre-piece in the form of mountains by Joan Sallas

Artist Joan Sallas is the world’s leading authority on historic linen folding and a virtuoso folder himself! His display of elaborately folded napkins and linen, inspired by Renaissance and Baroque patterns, is currently showing until April the 28th.

Based on meticulous research into court etiquette he has almost singlehandedly revived the extraordinary art that first appeared in Renaissance Italy but reached its zenith in German-speaking lands in the 17th century.

A close look at an heraldic device made of napkins, raw silk and clay. The creatures are guarding the fountain, the symbol of life.
A close look at an heraldic device made of napkins, raw silk and clay. The creatures are guarding the fountain, the symbol of life.
The table fountain - flanked by heraldic beasts!
The table fountain – flanked by heraldic beasts!

Sallas has exhibited across Europe and America but never before in the UK. So this is a first for Bath and a chance for visitors to see examples of a remarkable and spectacular art form from a highly-skilled and passionate artist.

One of the big set pieces is the creation of a 1.5 m high table fountain flanked by heraldic beasts – the sort of elaborate display that would have graced the tables of courts and those of high society across Europe.