A series of guest artists have been invited to create window displays for the Sotheby's Diamonds Salon at our New Bond Street Galleries. We sat down with the first of these, ceramic artist Katie Spragg – a maker represented by The New Craftsmen – to find out about her career to date, and the inspiration behind the bespoke installation.
When did you decide to become an artist, and what route did you follow?
I’ve always been creative since a young age and knew I wanted to do something art-related since I was about twelve. Doing an Art Foundation year at Camberwell College helped me realise that I wanted to make things and it was doing my BA at Brighton University in Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics that I specialised in Ceramics. I then set up my own practice and worked making more commercial work before doing my MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art, which I graduated from in 2016. It was here that I began my current body of work, inspired by our experience of and interaction with nature.
What is it about your chosen medium that captures your attention and passion?
Its versatility, its instant-ness and its connection to history.
Where did you get the inspiration for the Sotheby’s Diamonds window design?
I am interested in the way that humans and plants co-exist – how we attempt to curate nature yet it proceeds to grow and thrive beyond human ordering – sprouting up from cracks in the pavement or stone walls. For Sotheby’s I took their concept of floral still life paintings and fitted this with plants I have found growing naturally from stone; Welsh poppies, maidenhair spleenwort, ferns, primroses and herb robert – emphasising the drapiness of the plants, echoing depictions in paintings by Paul Gauguin, van Gogh or the Dutch masters.
Your work is about the relationship with the manmade and the natural; often using concrete, bricks and tarmac taken in conjunction with the very delicate ceramic plants and flowers. What is it about this relationship between the two that interests you?
My work aims to motivate an appreciation for the natural world but to not be precious or elitist about the environments that are revered – to see value in the overlooked nature that exist in urban environments as well as vast, beautiful natural landscapes. I think there is something very hopeful about the way that plants start to grow and flower in abandoned or derelict places.
By rendering plants in porcelain, you’re essentially freezing a moment in time. Does this theme play a part in all of your work?
Yes, I am interested in capturing a particular moment or time and transporting the viewer there. Nature, time and seasonality are all recurring themes within my work.
Champions of craft and its makers, since 2012, The New Craftsmen have injected energy and dynamism into the contemporary craft scene in the UK through our unique vision and approach to the commissioning, curation and sale of British craft.