In London in the late 19th century, Robert Wallace Martin and his three eccentric brothers made and sold strange, Gothic-inspired pottery sculptures known as Martinware. Now highly sought-after by collectors around the world, this horrifying crab with a grotesque human face is considered the pinnacle of their unique style.
In fact, this creepy smiling crab is so important that in 2019 the UK actually banned it from being exported from the country because it was deemed to be of such high national significance. I adore the grotesque, but I still found this ruling quite surprising because, in my very professional art historical opinion, this thing closely resembles:
- a leftover troll costume from the 1991 movie Ernest Scared Stupid
- a bag of sick with a face
- a Jim Henson puppet that was horribly disfigured in a grease fire
- what happens if you anger a sea witch
- Jabba the Hutt trying on dentures
- the stuff that grows at the bottom of unwashed lunch containers when you forget to take it out of your backpack for a few weeks
After it was banned from leaving the UK, this crab was purchased by the The Box, a new museum and gallery in Plymouth, where this nightmare in the shape of a crustacean will surely traumatise delighted visitors for years to come.
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i love Martinware, it’s always a joy to see it in museums, but i’ve always loved the grotesque-the things no one else would love! lol
when i did A level art. one of my projects was turning Leonardo Da Vinci’s grotesque drawings into pottery sculptures and still have them in my garden!