The Garden Vases, 2024

The Garden series, 2024

Will show at Collect24 with Ruup & Form

Somerset House, Feb 28/9 pvs, Mar 1-3 public. Tickets via Collect24

Garden series has grown out of my life long love of gardens which I probably got from my mother and grandmother. It is that sense of an 'in between' world that catches my interest - nature tamed, tampered with, and harnessed when used as crops or in products, particularly medicinal products.

For the Love of Irises

They have endless symbolism depending upon country and culture. Almost all and any flower can be associated with love and so it is with Irises, featuring in the first four images - 2 views each of 2 pots. My mother loved them and so do I. My sister's wedding was scheduled round the Iris season - all the flowers had to come from the garden, of course. I'm not sure how much say she had in the matter.

The Passion

In Christianity, certainly in Catholicism, Irises are also the Passion - as in the Passion of Christ, because they flower around Easter and because the pattern of three petals is seen as symbolic of the Holy Trinity, that peculiarly Catholic preoccupation. Think of France and the prevalence of the Fleur de Lis in its historic buildings, a constant reminder of its still strong Catholic traditions. In Christian mythology, love and death are close and nowhere closer than the Passion. Purple seems to set the mythologists down a particular path. It is associated with grief and death but also renewal. Here again we have the proximity of love and loss but always transcendent.

Moonlit Wisteria - the Wisteria Vase

Wisteria is a symbol of resilience, longevity and, especially, of enduring love. It is a very hardy plant and can live for several centuries - hence the association with endurance.

This depiction is a dark Wisteria. The white and pink plants are more commonly associated with romantic love, the purple with enduring love and includes loss and mourning. There is an interesting consistency across cultures and continents in the meaning of colours, even if the plant symbolisms differ.

A Japanese folk tale tells of the Wisteria Maiden whose socially forbidden love caused her to be transformed into a Wisteria vine. Here is a short passage from the story:

"As the moon cast its silvery glow upon the land, a young woman, consumed by longing, transformed into a wisteria vine, her cascading blossoms forever whispering the tale of an eternal bond. Her sacrifice, immortalised in petals, serves as a reminder of the enduring power of love and the indomitable spirit of the human heart."

Tainted Love - the Laburnum Vase

The Laburnum tree - Who can resist? Beautiful poison. Even the colour - a glorious burst of yellow sunshine, brightening up the Spring. The joy is tempered though, with the knowledge that the seeds the flowers produce are deadly.I grew up with a Laburnum. My siblings and I survived but, intriguingly, my parents decided to cut it down only after the grandchildren were born. I suspect we were just expected to do as we were told, 'Don't eat the seeds!'

Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel is one of my favourite books - the garden in Florence, the Laburnum seeds. She doesn't reveal if the death at the end is murder or not. One is left to speculate. It all adds to the creepy mystery and beauty of the flower - tainted but not irredeemable.

Both the Laburnum and the Wisteria are members of the pea family. It is obvious in the Laburnum, with its trefoil leaves, like giant Clover, less so, I think with the Wisteria.

Vase decorated with Irises
Large monochrome vase decorated with irises
Large slipware vase decorated with Wisteria
Large handmade slipware vase decorated with Laburnum flowers
Large vase decorated with Irises
Large monochrome handmade vase decorated with irises
Large slipware vase decorated with Wisteria
Large handmade slipware vase decorated with Laburnum flowers