An attempt to copy nature is a huge challenge and to try and replicate its smallest detail is near impossible! Ceramic artist Hitomi Hososno aims to achieve this feat in her porcelain jars and towers leaving us spellbound to say the least.
Magic! Only that can give reason to the beauty of this porcelain – maybe a garden fairy waved her wand and shaped the leaves and petals on these exquisite pieces. But reality raps hard voicing this porcelain art is the work of Hitomi Hosono.
A contemporary ceramist, Hitomi Hosono who is originally from Japan, merges European and Japanese traditions with her own unique approach to create her fine masterpieces. Having initially studied ceramics at the Kanazawa College of Art in Japan, she spent a year in Copenhagen studying ceramic design at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Later she got an MA from the Royal College of Art in London, which also gave her an opportunity to work with Wedgwood as part of her MA degree project. Today, she has established herself as an independent artist with a global clientele.
Based in London, Hosono creates her detailed flora-inspired sculptures from her memory, especially from that of a rice farm in Japan’s Gifu Prefecture, where she grew up. Anything verdant, like the trees across her studio or the flowers she finds on her walks in London, is captured by her strong photographic memory and she reproduces them as base sketches for her intricate work.
All the porcelain towers, bowls, and boxes which are a close life-like depiction of foliage clusters and flower petals or buds in cream or black hues, begin as pencil sketches. Hosono converts these sketches into carved 3-D models using clay or plasticine and then casts them in dentist’s plaster. This acts as her mould into which she pours porcelain enough times to have the ample amount of leaves, or flowers or buds or any other foliage required to cover her sculpture.
But before she places each of her bud or leaf, layer upon layer on to a shape, they are refined which according to her, ‘is the core of her work or else the details would cease to be in the replication’. Once hand carved they are thrown onto the wheel, and left to dry.
The whole process for these botanical life-like ceramics takes a long time to complete; a month to create the mould, another to attach the foliage and up to five months for them to dry. The final piece of porcelain sitting on the shelf after the excruciating amount of intense working, with its surfaces covered luxuriously in foliage and intertwined leaves, make our jaws drop at its sheer opulence and detailing. It is no wonder then, that Architect Peter Marino has acquired a piece and Jonathan Reed has taken keen interest in her work.
Her technique of using sprigs was picked up at the English porcelain manufacturer Wedgwood, where she interned and then briefly worked after school. She experimented with the technique of the 200-year-old Jasperware sprigging whereby thin ceramic reliefs, or ‘sprigs,’ are applied to the surface of teacups and traditional china as decoration. She applied her own brand of Miracle-Gro to this knowledge and enveloped her personal artworks with riots of parts of flora.
At Wedgwood, Hosono says, they used very few sprigs and this frustrated her as she wanted to transfer a plant’s infinite and complex beauty to cover everything. She blends a unique melting-pot of traditions – Japanese, European and contemporary, to develop her own exclusive style. Now she tries to experiment even further and is trying to produce larger sculptural pieces like never done before.
Her ceramic pieces are sold through well-known art dealer Adrian Sassoon, to a client list ranging from Fortnum & Mason, Liberty, Royal Crown Derby and Stella McCartney to the Royal College of Art. A recipient of the Rosenthal Design Award, her work has been displayed at many galleries and exhibitions across Europe and Japan, and the famous Victoria & Albert Museum has even displayed one of her pieces in their Japanese gallery.
A journey that began in Japan, when she sculpted a simple leaf from the garden and found herself drawn into its intricacy, has today only become more detailed and exploratory. Hitomi Hosono still studies botanical forms in English city and country gardens; common everyday scenes of climbing vines and the comprehensive botanical photographs of Karl Blossfeldt, keep inspiring her to find the essence of what makes leaves and flowers beautiful as she continues translating them into ceramics.
In Hosono’s words, “In nature, beauty arises from the earth; in my work I try to bring to life plant forms using clay, which is earth itself. I do not try to improve upon nature. That cannot be done. Instead I try to find the essence of what makes leaves and flowers beautiful and attempt to transfer this infinite and complex beauty into my ceramic pieces.”
When you look at all the ashen and black hued porcelain work, covered in leaves and vines and flower buds, William Blake’s words come to mind, ‘to create a flower is the labour of ages’ and these seem to not apply to nature but the very human artist Hitomi Hosono.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Hitomi Hososno