January 11 2011
If you’ve ever thought that Britain’s long heritage of fine bone china deserved a fresh, contemporary twist from a sharp-eyed bunch of young creatives, then click on to The New English, where you’ll find innovative designs that joyfully reflect the life around us.
“We see as much inspiration in art, music or fashion as in other ceramics,” says founder Paul Bishop. Britain’s indigenous ceramic tradition is not rejected by his company, though, but cleverly updated. “Our Englishness is a distinctive stylistic approach, a depth, a sense of humour and a passionate willingness to challenge,” he explains.
Scrolling though this lively site, it’s clear that there’s nothing conventional about these designs. Take Florian Hutter’s vibrant, tattoo-inspired Inkhead collection with its colourful, contemporary symbols (dinner plate with hand-applied burnished 22ct gold details, £62.50; latte cup and saucer, first picture, about £60) or Lisa Turner’s Anatomica collection which evokes the spirit of 19th-century anatomy (cake plate, second picture, £49.50). Both provoke an emotional response while simultaneously prompting a smile.
More challenging are Tanja Livingstone’s Ador ceramics with their 1950s-influenced line drawings of faces graphically juxtaposed with skulls (dinner plate, £44) and Terrie McGettigan’s Crusades collection, whose ideological imagery of war planes and crucifixion comments on the strength and power of belief (teacup with saucer, £59).
There’s something here for all tastes, though, with Camila Prada’s jaunty Girlz collection (espresso cup and saucer with hand-applied burned 22ct gold detail, third picture, £65), Monica Tsang’s insect-covered Entomo b (latte cup with saucer, £75) and The New English Studios’ Phoebe, an elegant design with burnished platinum details inspired by last year’s discovery of Saturn’s largest ring (teapot, £113.50). Marcus Steel’s Benday, meanwhile, raises the humble dot to a gleaming art form using hand-applied 24ct burnished gold (espresso cup with saucer, £72.50).
By taking such an inspired and uplifting approach to contemporary china, The New English succeeds in doing exactly what it sets out to do without gimmickry or disregard for a fine British manufacturing tradition – and with a lot of joie de vivre.