More is more when it comes to handmade vases, says Neale Whitaker.
HANDMADE VASES IN ALL SHAPES AND STYLES ARE BACK IN FORCE – AND THE MORE THE MERRIER
Ihave collected many things in my life. Like postage stamps and costume dolls (OK, I was very young), neither of which – let’s be honest – are likely to pop up on the style radar any time soon. Although I once said that about my collection of vinyl music – and how wrong I was. But it’s fortuitous that I’ve kept my vases, because if ever there was a time to dust them off, it’s now.
Whether stoneware, earthenware, porcelain or glass – even brass – the humble vase has never been hotter. When I scroll through my photos from this year’s Milan Design Week, it’s all about vessels. Note that what was once a vase has become a vessel. And we’re not talking lone vessels either, we’re talking generous groupings of them. That would be a fleet.
Nicolette Johnson (nicolettejohnson ceramics.com) is a ceramic artist based in Brisbane. Her strikingly curvaceous work is gaining recognition, mostly via social media, with a new audience perhaps seeking the authenticity of craft as an antidote to technologydriven lives. Johnson’s sinuous and sculptural vases, urns and totems echo classical Greece, although she cites inspiration from the mid-’80s Memphis Group to British potter Lucie Rie.
“People are becoming more conscious about how things are made,” she says. “There’s a greater demand for transparency, documentation and experimentation. Social media has changed the way creatives show their work to the public and the way that work is made in the first place.”
Other Australians creating beautiful and intriguing ceramic works include Sydney-based Alana Wilson (alanawilson.com) and Melbourne duo Porcelain Bear (porcelainbear.com) and, at a more accessible level, you only have to look under “vases and botanicals” on retailer West Elm’s website (westelm.com.au) to see how extensive the trend is – and also a useful lesson in how to display them. “Ceramics and the handmade are in hot demand,” says West Elm Australia PR and brand marketing director Lexi Kentmann. “In an era of tech-addiction, it’s good to pick up something crafted by hand, and to know no two pieces are the same.” The Us-based retailer supports artisan communities from Guatemala to Vietnam through a fair-trade program.
When it comes to displaying vessels, more is more. Five feels like the right number. If you can create a loose theme (colour, shape, material or height), so much the better. But there really are no rules – and remember that op shops and garage sales are now your best friends.