Paul Scott | The Gardens of Lyra Series05 May 2021
Paul Scott presents a solo exhibition this May - Scenery, Samplers & Souvenirs. This exhibition features new artworks which update historical transferwares for the 21st century, including a selection from his New American Scenery series, alongside the Spode Works Closed series and English Scenery series. The exhibition also features work made as a result of his Gardens of Lyra collaboration with Spode and Fortnum & Mason. This blog explores The Gardens of Lyra series in further detail in Paul Scott's own words.
'Fortnum & Mason instigated discussions about the possibility of a Cumbrian Blue(s) teaware design in March 2018 after Jo Newton and Jessica Burnett from the Home department had seen my Cockle Pickers’ Tea Service in the V&A collection. Following a period of consultation and discussion, The Gardens of Lyra teaware set was commissioned by Fortnum & Mason a year later.
Fortnum & Mason have a long history of working with artists and designers, perhaps their work with Edward Bawden the best known and documented. From 1932 for almost half a century Bawden created hundreds of drawings and graphics used in Fortnum’s booklets, leaflets, posters and other advertising ephemera.
From my point of view the opportunity to create a transferware design for commercial production was impossible to turn down. Over the years I have undertaken research in ceramic industry pattern archives in the UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United States. I had fledgling discussions about potential limited edition artwork production at Rörstrand, Sweden in 2011 that came to nought, and have long sought to re-animate material from the Spode archive since my first investigations at the Musuem in the 1990’s. So it was that during 2019 I finally had my chance to meld disparate historical patterns to create a new design for Fortnum & Mason, to be made by Spode.
Gardens of Lyra references the disparate geographical sources of Fortnum & Mason’s tea, from Africa, the Indian Sub Continent, and East Asia. The new fictitious landscape was confected from obsolete Spode transferware motifs.
Harvested graphic material from original copper plates in the Spode Museum Trust’s archives, were cloned, collaged, and re-drawn (or ‘digitally gardened’), to create new patterns from the old.
Gardens of Lyra fuses together historic designs Temple/New Bridge/Queen Charlotte, Tower Picnic and Willow, transforming elements into new shapes and details. These include a new bridge based on Indian railway arches, tea pickers from differing regions, trees and plantations. All are held within a classic but changed Queen Charlotte/New Bridge border with butterflies and roundel baskets containing drying tea.
Differing forms within the set are decorated with elements of the main design, including tea leaves which are scattered throughout the service.
Gardens of Lyra is the first transferware design in 250 years to depict tea production…
I made a small number of ‘one-off’ collaged plates and platters especially for the (delayed) launch of the new teaware design in September 2020 at Fortnum & Mason’s Piccadilly store. These were based on factory transferware ‘sampler plates, that were sometimes made for colour/pattern/glaze testing reasons, or sales purposes. The artworks were made using decals created for the whole teaware set, so that for example, teapot handle graphics are juxtaposed on bone china plates with trees from mugs…
The ‘sampler’ plates included in Scenery, Samplers & Souvenirs are pieces specifically retained from that original production, alongside a small number of newer pieces. The works are unique ‘one-off’ works, and are unlikely ever to be repeated.'
- Paul Scott, April 2021
You can view Paul Scott's May 2021 exhibition Scenery, Samplers & Souvenirs here and enjoy a glimpse into Paul's studio in our short film below.