Shapes, textures and colours
I made the time, before heading to Paris Fashion Week, to visit Design Week at the Truman Brewery. At first I thought much of the work felt a little same-y however as I progressed through the wide space, a few designers-makers definitely stood out. I always feel naturally drawn to textures and colours and lastly to shapes. I also always consider skills, techniques and the visual result has to feel unexpected, surprising, out of the ordinary.
There were three artists whose work really stayed with me, Ceramicists Vanessa Hogge and Yuta Segawa, these two could not be more different and tapestry artist, Lizan Frejsen from the Netherlands.
Organic and ornate, spontaneous and stylised, Vanessa Hogge crafts her beautiful decorative wallflowers and vessels in her studio at Cockpit Arts Holborn, breathing new life into her clay in the form of dahlias, chrysanthemums, daisies, hydrangeas and daphne. Working predominantly in porcelain, she takes an instinctive, visceral approach to each piece, painstakingly sculpting every petal and anther by hand, so that no two flowers are identical. Grounded by years of experience as a ceramicist, Vanessa is inspired by her passion for all things botanical and her influences are as diverse as Frida Kahlo and Marianne North.
Lizan Freijsen — The art that nature leaves behind
A stain on a ceiling is a blank canvas for an active imagination: whole worlds can be conjured from the nebulous cloud it forms. Lizan Freijsen’s fascination with stains and mildew began when she was a little girl on holiday in Hulshorst and Oisterwijk in the Netherlands. At night, she was frightened by the strange stains on the ceiling above her bed. Staring hard at them, she was able to imagine enchanting fairytales that soothed her to sleep. The worlds she saw in them have, in turn, opened new worlds for her. The grown-up Freijsen is still captivated by moisture and mildew stains, and now she transforms them into works of art: beautiful woollen rugs with amorphous shapes, plush relief and subtle colour gradations that decorate rather than disturb, spreading their rich, earthy colours and abstract forms organically across the surface.
To nourish her work, Freijsen actively collects stains. She once went so far as to send out postcards to 4,000 people in Rotterdam, her hometown, asking them for help in finding intriguing stains. When some 40 people replied, she visited them and asked about the stories behind the leaks.
She also takes inspiration from slow-growing lichen, with its similar patterns and ranges of subtle colours. She first photographs her subject and then reworks and optimises the images digitally. They take on three dimensions once again when she has them turned into rugs.
Freijsen still makes up stories about her collection of stains, organising them into such categories as “heaven,” “friends,” “bodies,” “animals,” “home” and “atmosphere”, turning the ubiquitous into the specific. “Water makes no distinction and comes everywhere,” she says. The stains it creates “embody numerous stories for me about buildings, relations and the effect of time.Making art out of these living, growing natural phenomena – “the drawing that nature leaves behind,” – is Freijsen’s way of turning them into, as she calls them scintillating objects that remain timeless
Originally from Japan, Yuta Segawa lives and works in London specialising in producing miniature pottery. He honed his ceramic skills in Japan, China, and London; completing a BA at Musashion Art University, Toyko and his MA at Camberwell College of Arts, London In a colour spectrum of more than 1,000 specially developed glazes, Yuta Segawa makes hand-thrown miniature pots. So tiny you can hold several in the palm of your hand, they push the idea of micro craft to the limit. He made his first miniature pots in 2012 after seeing the beautiful toy boxes belonging to Chinese emperors of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) which were full of tiny things – these caught his imagination. The small pots are a big hit: the Camberwell College of Arts graduate sold all of his stock of 500 during Ceramic Art London.Inspired by Scandinavian artists such as Berndt Friberg and StigLindberg, who both made small-scale ceramics, he developed the minute into something new. “There’s a mysterious charm about making miniature pots,” he says. “You don’t need a large scale to express the beauty of clay, glazes andshapes.”
Working in miniature poses a real challenge – testing the limits of what a human body can make on such a small scale. Segawa’s work has been exhibited both in the UK and internationally.