The weekend’s glorious summer weather couldn’t have been better timed for my first ever visit to West Dean College near Chichester for their annual Design & Craft Fair. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to go there, as I’ve heard so many good things about it from various sources. It truly is an incredibly beautiful and inspirational place – for the range of creative arts courses on offer, for the teaching and facilities, and last but not least for its stunning location in award-winning gardens and with sweeping views of the South Downs. I certainly hope to get back there soon.
I saw many utterly lovely things at the show from designers and makers of many disciplines, but these ceramic floral creations by East London-based ceramicist Vanessa Hogge, founder of Wallflowerlondon, were an absolute standout for me.
What I find most beguiling about them is that they’re so simple and yet so complex at the same time. The unadorned purity of white porcelain and black clay combines with organic symmetry and geometry to stunning effect. Minimal maximalism perhaps?
I managed to have the briefest of chats with Vanessa, who explained that each petal and flower is squeezed and moulded by hand, so that each tiny element is unique. “There’s a lot of squeezing!” she laughed.
Vanessa’s website provides more background and insight into her work:
Working predominantly in porcelain, Vanessa crafts her one-off flowerheads in her studio in East London.Grounded by years of expertise as a ceramicist, she takes an instintive, visceral approach to each piece, painstakingly sculpting every petal and anther by hand so that no two flowers are identical.
The efflorescent flowers are created in porcelain and black clay, and are fired to high temperatures to create brittle, ossified shades of white and lava-like black.
Inspired by her passion for all things botanical, and influences as diverse as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe and Marianne North, Vanessa breathes life into her clay in the form of dahlias, chrysanthemums, daisies, agaves and roses, and will happily try her hand at any flower.
Also on display on the Wallflowerlondon stand were intricate vases like the ones above. They’re utterly contemporary, with their simple lines and soft matte finish and they reminded me a little of beautiful coral formations.
The flowerheads come in various sizes and are supplied ready for hanging, but can also be displayed flat on a table or shelf. They look equally stunning singly or in groups, and I really don’t know which one(s) I would select – I absolutely love them all.
Vanessa is also available for commissions and can be contacted via her website.