IN­SIDE STORY

Ce­ramic artist Hit­omi Hosono has brought a bold, new vi­sion to British her­itage brand Wedg­wood

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Contents - — TALIB CHOUDHRY

Ce­ramic artist Hit­omi Hosono brings a new vi­sion to British brand Wedg­wood

Iconic British life­style brand Wedg­wood has crafts­man­ship her­itage dat­ing back to 1759. Its founder, Josiah Wedg­wood, was not only a pi­o­neer­ing craftsman and potter but also an ex­cep­tional phi­lan­thropist and mar­keter. With his pas­sion for in­no­va­tion he would no doubt have ap­proved of the lat­est chap­ter in the com­pany’s his­tory: this sum­mer Wedg­wood un­veiled a col­lec­tion of new jasper pieces by the Ja­panese artist Hit­omi Hosono, its first ever artist-in-res­i­dence. The new de­signs com­bine Hosono’s cre­ativ­ity and ar­ti­sanal ta­lent with Wedg­wood’s time-hon­oured tech­niques to breath­tak­ing ef­fect.

Al­low­ing an artist to work along­side its fac­tory tech­ni­cians was a bold de­par­ture for the firm, and much of what Hosono orig­i­nally wanted to do was so imag­i­na­tive and in­tri­cate that re­al­is­ing the lim­ited edi­tion pieces took a year of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

Hosono grew up in an area that was sur­rounded by pot­ter­ies. Her grand­fa­ther was a plas­ter and ceram­ics worker so she re­mem­bers be­ing sur­rounded by tiles and pretty pots as a child.

Af­ter learn­ing tra­di­tional or­na­men­tal pot­tery at art col­lege in Ja­pan, Hosono stud­ied in Den­mark be­fore se­cur­ing a place at the Royal Col­lege of Art in Lon­don for her Mas­ter of Arts de­gree. While study­ing there in 2008, she spent six weeks in­tern­ing at the Wedg­wood fac­tory, where she de­vel­oped new works based on her pas­sion for nat­u­ral forms, and delv­ing into Wedg­wood’s ar­chive col­lec­tion of sprigs for in­spi­ra­tion. This pe­riod of ex­plo­ration had a pro­found ef­fect on Hosono’s ca­reer and makes it en­tirely fit­ting that she should be cho­sen to be Wedg­wood’s first artist-in-res­i­dence.

“When I was an in­tern, I didn’t re­ally know why I in­stinc­tively loved Wedg­wood but now I do,” she says. “It’s the pre­cise at­ten­tion to de­tail. I like how their de­signs have a sense of flow and move­ment which makes ev­ery­thing look three di­men­sional.”

The cen­tre­piece to the col­lec­tion is Hosono’s take on Wedg­wood’s iconic Port­land Vase, first ex­hib­ited in 1790. It was a jasper copy of a cameo-glass vase dat­ing back to the reign of Em­peror Au­gus­tus Cae­sar, and owned by the re­doubtable Duchess of Port­land. Hosono’s Shōka Vase (mean­ing sub­li­ma­tion) re­tains the tra­di­tional shape, though the dis­tinc­tive

Wedg­wood blue has been light­ened to a gen­tler turquoise, and clas­si­cal fig­ures have been re­placed with fern moulds, which she found in the Wedg­wood ar­chive.

“I was in­spired by the orig­i­nal Wedg­wood sprigs that were in­formed by na­ture,” she says. “I went into the ar­chives, which is a bit like en­ter­ing Wedg­wood’s brain, and felt the his­tory there. I love the idea of us­ing a mo­tif de­signed over a cen­tury ago. I formed the ferns to look as though they are climb­ing up from the bot­tom of the vase, to make it feel dra­matic and ex­cit­ing. The orig­i­nal Port­land Vase had a clas­si­cal Greek story neatly wrapped around it, but I love this sense of the ferns in­vad­ing.”

The other art­works in the col­lec­tion are equally am­bi­tious; it takes two days to ap­ply the 1150 in­di­vid­u­ally crafted daisies that spill down the side of the mint green Ka­sumi Vase. The small duck egg Touka Vase is dec­o­rated with pierced chrysan­the­mums in three dif­fer­ent sizes, giv­ing the solid shape a fresh, con­tem­po­rary del­i­cacy. Shunko (pic­tured, top right) is a beau­ti­ful, pink trin­ket box with soft edges, based on a smooth peb­ble and em­bel­lished with clus­ters of hand-ap­plied leaves evoca­tive of Ja­panese gar­dens and their dis­tinc­tive pink cherry blos­som. The level of de­tail in each leaf clus­ter is ex­quis­ite, and this re­al­ism is one of Hosono’s key skills as a ce­ramic artist.

She en­joyed the col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Wedg­wood’s crafts­peo­ple and was sur­prised to learn that tools which were 100 years-old were still be­ing used in the fac­tory. “When I saw what the tini­est vari­a­tion in a tool could cre­ate I un­der­stood why you would use it,” she ex­plains “I will trea­sure my very time at the fac­tory. I love that I bring a new vi­sion to th­ese iconic shapes.” The Wedg­wood Artist in Res­i­dence pieces are avail­able through se­lected stores and on­line at wedg­wood.co.uk

1 Haruka Bowl, lim­ited edi­tion of five 2 Hit­omi Hosono at Wedg­wood’s HQ in Stoke-on-Trent, Eng­land3 Ko­haru San­sai Ob­ject (part of a set of three), lim­ited edi­tion of 10 4 Shoka Vase, lim­ited edi­tion of five

5 A craftsman at work on the Touka Vase 6 Vases await­ing dec­o­ra­tion, with clas­si­cal mo­tifs from the Wedg­wood ar­chive in the back­ground

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