There’s Always Room For Cake: Joana Vasconcelos' Love Tower at Waddesdon Manor

Photo of Atelier Joana Vasconcelos by Lionel Balteiro

In a world where wedding venues have become increasingly unconventional, even Buckinghamshire, England’s dignified Waddesdon Manor estate wants a slice, inviting renowned artist Joana Vasconcelos to form a miraculous 12-meter high cake tower. Stationed alongside the 19th-century Dairy Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild built to charm his partygoers, this marks the third time Vasconcelos and Waddesdon Manor have teamed up on a installation as such. It’s an out-of-the ordinary location for couples to exchange vows. Yes, you can get married at what the artist describes as the “temple of love”.

Almost five years in the making, Wedding Cake was commissioned by the Rothschild Foundation for Waddesdon, prompted by the relationship between visionary collector Lord Rothschild and Vasconcelos. “I mean, it’s almost as mad as the cake, isn’t it? There’s a link of eccentricity and romance and, actually, beauty” tells the Financial Times.

Joana Vasconcelos is known for her hyperbolic work as seen in A Noiva (The Bride)’ (2001–05), a chandelier made of 25,000 tampons presented in the 2005 Venice Biennale or her Full Steam Ahead series of BOSCH steam irons collated into a large-scale sculpture. This part sculpture, part architectural garden folly is a first for the artist whose work often explores domesticity and femininity. Inspired by the exuberance of Baroque architecture and the ornate ceramic traditions of Lisbon, where Vasconcelos resides, this artwork represents a contemporary interpretation of the illustrious Rothschild legacy of hospitality. Drawing inspiration from the opulent garden pavilions of the 18th century, Wedding Cake embodies the spirit of celebration and grandeur of marriage through the concept of a cake, symbolic for unity.

Wedding Cake Exterior 30 © A Rothschild House and Garden. Photo by Chris Lacey

Vasconcelos says “Many artists have the ‘impossible project’ and this is mine. I wanted people to have three different approaches to it: looking from the outside, enjoying the surroundings from the different levels or balconies and rising to the top, finally completing the artwork with their presence. Above all, I always thought of it as a temple to love.”

While Vasconcelos finds inspiration in the space, hence the use of ceramic tiles pays homage to the Manor's globally acclaimed assortment of Sèvres and Meissen porcelain, the foundation brings to life, one of the artist’s most ambitious projects to date. This synergism between artist and manor gives rise to its charm, encouraging guests to while away the time or say ‘I do’!.

Wedding Cake is on view through October 26, 2023.