West Sussex-based designer, Rosie Simmons, has created an exclusive range of ceramics to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Pallant House, the Queen Anne core of the Gallery.
Taking inspiration from the 1712 Pallant House facade, Rosie has cleverly combined significant events of the time, such as the 1707 Act of Union and detailing of the Queen Anne town house to produce three different designs for a bone china mug as well as a special celebration plate featuring ostriches and ermines from the Peckham family crest. All of the designs are exclusive to Pallant House Gallery Bookshop.
Pallant House Gallery interviewed Rosie to find out more about her style, background and inspiration behind the Pallant House commission:
How do you describe your style?
My style is eclectic; I could describe it as traditional with a modern twist since I work as a craftsperson and use industrial methods of production. I have a strong eye for detail and really enjoy the business of drawing and painting delicate and intricate patterns. I was able to develop and consolidate these skills during my time working for Wedgewood as a ceramics surface designer.
Who or what most inspires you?
I have always loved drawing from nature, this is why I am particularly happy to be living in the Sussex countryside now where I am surrounded by possible sources of inspiration. I also enjoy delving into the past and researching into different cultures and different materials to explore various aesthetic influences across the world and throughout time. I am inspired by anything from a delicate Chinese 14th century porcelain bowl to a Victorian drain-pipe.
What drew you to ceramics?
Ceramics could be said to be oldest art form. I work with the most basic raw material of clay but many different disciplines have had differing degrees of importance and impact over time and within different cultures. I love the fact that this complexity of process produces endless variety in form and design. The technical challenges in the process are highly complex and there are so many exciting possibilities and I love the fact that in the end there will always be that element of suprise - what emerges from the kiln, or what becomes the final surface, will never be the same as one's original drawing. Where I am in my element is using pattern and form together. It is the practical functionality of the product that appeals to me in ceramics rather than the product as a piece of sculpture or installation.
What is your inspiration behind the range ceramics commissioned by Pallant House?
I am fascinated by all the stories connected with Elizabeth and Henry Peckham and the birth of their house. As both the inside and outside of the house is filled with fine detailed craftsmanship in so many materials – wrought iron, brick, plaster, wood – it is ideal to home in on some of these intricate pieces and highlight their beauty on to ceramics. I have also explored connections between the 1707 Act of Union and the carvings on the façade of the house. The two ostrich/dodo carvings are so engaging I wanted to incorporate in some way the family crest containing the original ostrich. Obviously it was a significant emblem for the family so I wanted to highlight that too.