When Toronto-native Melanie Roseveare first came to London 25 years ago it was the city’s museums that stole her heart. “Now I spend hours wandering around those museums and galleries for work,” says the ceramicist who has created three tableware collections (from £30 for a mug) for Marylebone’s The Wallace Collection, inspired by its Old Masters paintings, and was commissioned last year by The Hepworth Wakefield Museum to come up with a range (from £32 for a side plate) to accompany an exhibition of photographer Lee Mille. Also in the pipeline are designs for the upcoming Hogarth show at the Sir John Soane’s Museum.
The starting point for Melody Rose London ceramics, however, was a visit to a Turner Prize-winning exhibition in 2003. “I was blown away by Grayson Perry’s work; the combination of art and craft in a fun, relevant and modern way,” says Roseveare, who strives to make her classic bone-china tableware “fresh and contemporary but also elegant and timeless”. She began by printing designs onto antique and vintage ceramics – a process that led to her singular style juxtaposing the traditional (gold-edged dinner plates) with the unexpected (images of trapeze artists swinging across tableware).
Her quirky tableware is served up with a dollop of borrowed British eccentricity and sought after for bespoke commissions (from £4,000 for a 12-cup tea service) by both Michelin-starred restaurants and private clients, including a couple restoring a castle in Ireland. “The place has an interesting history: Sir Walter Raleigh lived there and it is thought to be haunted. I referenced this in my designs as well as using images of the castle as the ruin it had once been.”
Roseveare turns initial sketches into final images that, once approved, are printed onto her chinaware, produced in a third-generation family pottery in Stoke-on-Trent to a secret formula – and hand-finished in gold leaf.