Intricate tendrils and layers of finely sculpted leaves unfurl in the form of bowls and vases — the work of Japanese-born artist Hitomi Hosono almost defies description, it’s so ethereal and vivid. Represented by Adrian Sassoon, her remarkable botanical-inspired porcelain pots have been exhibited at most major art, craft and interior exhibitions including Jerwood Makers, Masterpiece London, Collect and PAD, but the latest is a solo show — Reimagining Nature: Hitomi Hosono’s Memories in Porcelain at Daiwa Foundation Japan House.
Hitomi Hosono’s porcelain artworks
Combining memories of her mother’s garden in Gifu with inspiration found in the parks of London, Hosono’s work demonstrates a meticulous study of botanical forms. The 22 works on show at the Daiwa Foundation combine inspiration from nature in England — wisteria climbing the walls of a church — along with memories of plants native to Japan such as the elegant curly petals of the Nadeshiko flower in her mother’s garden.
English design also often inspires Hosono. One past exhibition was inspired by the antiques, artworks and classic fabrics that decorate the Colefax & Fowler townhouse. «One fabric pattern that caught my eye featured beautiful roses and pansies, which appeared to be moving as if blown by a gentle summer breeze,» she says. «The softness and delicacy of rose petals is something that I wish to communicate in my own work and has led me to explore new forms and ways of aligning sweeping porcelain petal elements along a curve, emanating from multiple dense centres.»
Hitomi Hosono work up close
Viewing Hosono’s creations, it’s hard to fathom their construction. A visit to her Finsbury Park studio — moulds piled on shelves and large vessels at different stages of drying — reveals a lengthy multiple-stage process.
First she throws a basic porcelain vessel and then the foliage is created separately through a process of mould-making using the classic «sprigging» technique, which she learnt during a stint at Wedgwood while studying her Ceramics and Glass MA at the Royal College of Art. This is the method used to create the white bas-relief decoration on Jasperware, but Hosono manipulates and pushes it to an incredible naturalistic extremes.
Hitomi Hosono’s porcelain artworks
Small individual leaves are carved and formed first in oven-baked clay, from which a negative impression master mould is made in plaster, into which porcelain clay is pressed to create the final piece. These are then applied to the pot while still wet, and manipulated, twisted and carved into organic shapes with the relief accentuated by hand. Drying times can vary; for larger pieces seven months is not unusual, before firing.
Works in progress at Hitomi Hosono’s studio CREDIT: SLYVAIN DELEU
Hosono’s pots appeal to collectors, who value her art form as much as sculpture and fine art, which perhaps explains why a works fetch in excess of £10,000. Although her career has taken off in recent years, most noticeably since she won the Jerwood Makers Open in 2014 and prior to that the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize in 2013, the toughening up of the UK’s immigration law means she has to work hard to remain here.
«People are starting to say, ‘you must be rich’, but to show my work costs money. I have to earn a certain amount to stay here and have already had to say goodbye to fellow craftspeople who have been unable to afford to stay in the UK.»
Hitomi Hosono at work CREDIT: SLYVAIN DELEU
The daughter of rice farmers, Hosono has come a long way since studying ceramics at the Kanazawa College of Art in Japan. She won scholarships first to study in Copenhagen at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and then at the RCA in London, and since then the London ceramics scene has been blessed by her extraordinary creativity and talent. It would be a travesty to lose her.
Reimagining Nature: Hitomi Hosono’s Memories in Porcelain at Daiwa Foundation Japan House 13/14 Cornwall Terrace (Outer Circle) London NW1 4QP is from 3 November until 15th December 2017. There is an artist talk on 22nd November at 6pm, which you can book here.