The Museum of Everything
Pre-order now - Publishing 10th May 2021
’Your museum is permanently magical… some in poems have raised fine architectural edifices, but most rare have been those who… have built a poem.’ – Isaac D’Israeli to Sir John Soane, 1838
Sir John Soane’s Museum in central London is a unique and idiosyncratic ‘house museum’, designed and built in the early 19th century by its obsessive architect/collector owner. This book takes the reader on a personal and poetic trail, capturing the tragic story of the man who created it, the eclectic collection he gathered within its walls, and most importantly what it says about our universal desire to leave a mark in space and time.
The Museum of Everything is conceived as a loose navigation from room to room, taking in the Pompeian red library, the crypt with its glowing alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I, the Picture Gallery unfolding its all-too-close-to home story of a Rake’s Progress, the Monk’s Parlour (dwelling of a completely fictitious gothic monk), the airy delights of the decorated Breakfast Room, right up to the Turner-yellow Drawing room.
No matter if you have never visited the place before – the texts are intercut with a series of striking collages made by the poet himself. They mix archive imagery of the house with contemporary visuals and help locate the reader in his/her passage through the house. They also help conjure the unique message of this book: how to make material our elusive dreams and imaginings.
’This book builds itself into a series of collages, images intricately overlaid to illuminate one other. The poems move lightly, not just from room to room, but between the chambers of the heart, through shadowed spaces to jewelled windows to doors that might let in the rivers of the world.
With a kind of austere precision, Robert Seatter suggests the collector’s passion as well as the knowledge that the object of desire will always be just out of reach, lost before it can be grasped. In his house made of poems, we come to ‘know/what we are made of and almost who we are’. – Imtiaz Dharker
’We were delighted to have Robert Seatter as our first poet in residence at Sir John Soane’s Museum. His work brilliantly captures the experience of exploring Soane’s romantic and picturesque home with its complex layers of allusion and illusion, interpreting this famous place and its collections in new, surprising and emotive ways.‘ – Helen Dorey, Deputy Director and Inspectress, Sir John Soane’s Museum