A cropped image of a white glazed, multi-spouted stoneware vase containing a bouquet of early summer flowers - blue hydrangeas, pink and white peonies, yellow gerberas, and some smaller orange flowers on a tendril-like stem
Multi-Spouted stoneware vase, 2023

The stoneware flower vases that I’ve been developing take influence from details of the public spaces I spend time in day-to-day. A curious architectural motif, the silhouettes of street furniture, and both generous and hostile design elements are all engaging points of reference for me when working on my ceramics.

Over the last couple of years I’ve become quite enamoured with the way that untended plants and flowers grow up and burst through the railings on Hove Lawns during the summer months. Thinking of the railings as containers for the plants, I’ve been exploring how this might translate into my work as I develop my stoneware vases - how can a vase be a frame for flowers? How it can give structure to the flowers as they bloom and eventually fade? How can it contain the flowers while also letting them extend beyond it? This has led me to start experimenting with multiple spout-like openings and cut-outs for flower stems, placing these up and down the length of the stoneware body to give varying height to the arrangement, as though the plants were growing up around the vase rather than held in one central opening.

This multi-spout vase feature can be traced back to popularity in 17th century Delft, Netherlands, with the pots known as Tulipieres. These were used to grow tulips with one bulb per spout as opposed to being used for cut flowers, but it’s easy to imagine them filled with stems, beginning proud and upright before fading into more languid forms that cascade down the vase. I think an arrangement that a vase like this encourages gets towards something ‘naturalistic’ and it inspires a more active and considered engagement with the object. Decisions need to be made about where a flower is best placed, where a slender stem might be more suited than a thicker one with lots of foliage, how you might incorporate dried plants into the arrangement…

I want my vases to be engaging and beautiful as empty vessels, but I make them with the understanding a lot of their appeal is built around the potential for them to be more, to be changed with use. Like the railings on Hove Lawns they are at their most lovely when host to plants, moments at which they are, conversely, their most concealed.


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