Although ceramics are created from the most basic elements, earth and fire, they can take on a remarkable delicacy and ethereality in the right hands. Zuleika Melluish is one of the artists who achieves this result, using plants from her own garden in Wales to inspire her botanically-inspired creations.
Zuleika’s interest in gardening began some five years ago, when she created a garden from scratch in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains in Mid-Wales. Being based in London with a busy schedule and children’s term dates mean that her visits can be sporadic, but this allows the plants and flowers to grow wild and adds to the natural feel of the ceramics.
In her garden Zuleika grows everything from honeysuckle and jasmine to fennel, carrots and wildflowers. Each of these leaves a different impression in clay, with stinging nettles and brambles amongst the most distinctive.
Largely self-taught, Zuleika found ceramics and the use of clay a natural way of impressing the grace of wild flowers into a practical object, whilst preserving their beauty. Each piece can take up to a few weeks to create, using a lengthy and delicate process. First, the form is made out of earthenware and is then imprinted with the chosen flower or plant, painted, glazed, and fired again.
“I try to place the flowers and plants so that they look as close to their natural habit as possible while - at the same time - showing as much of their extraordinary detail and characteristics as I can.” says Zuleika. Amongst her extraordinary collections you can find plates with the impressions of dried fennel (£250), and vases of cherry blossom (£195).
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