In central London, in the RHS Lindley Library there is a small exhibition called ‘Potted’. To quote the blurb
“In celebration of the humble houseplant, this exhibition at the RHS Lindley Library presents a series of designs by students from Central Saint Martins college. In a collaborative project with the library, the students have investigated a variety of well-known and well-loved houseplants and created made to measure pots to suit their individual needs.”
Now I think I heard or read something about this (which is why I went) to the effect that the students knew virtually nothing about the plants in question before they started. Which makes for a challenging project; I am not sure how I would go about designing a living environment for an armadillo. Clearly they had advice and did research, but I still think they made a fair stab at it.
I haven’t shown all of them, my phone didn’t take the best of pictures indoors and some of the pots were less interesting to me than others. It is open till next Friday (19th May) and is free to all. It is definitely worth 30 minutes of your time if you are in central London.
I know nothing about pottery or sculpture, so my comments are from the perspective of a houseplant lover. It may be that some of the aspects I dislike have relevance, or make reference to artists or works I am ignorant of.
The first one shown here is to hold lithops, and I found this pot frustrating. Had the plant been angled in the pot so that it was flush with the top rather than revealing the unglazed interior, it would have been brilliant. It must surely have been the intention of the artist for the surfaces of pot and plant to flow into each other? Planting at an angle in a pot is more difficult that you expect it to be!
Otherwise I felt it was quite original. The surface mimicked the size and shape of the leaves and the overall shape was intriguingly out of proportion to the plant, almost a lithops volcano. It reminded me in tone of a lot of the more severe type of 70s decor.
A more politically-influenced vessel with the holder representing the slashing and burning that man has inflicted upon the rainforest. But within the damage, there is still space for a plant habitat. The colours and textures were particularly eye-catching, and it seemed a good place for a bromeliad (Guzmania).
The third container I have featured was inspired by the trees, rocks and stones that would occur in the native habitat of the plant (Scindapsus). The flowing shapes and varied textures were fascinating. Occupying the tricky ground between ugly and beautiful, the container was big enough to actually house the plant for quite a while.
A failing (for me) of many ornamental containers is that they fit the plant at that moment in time, not allowing for growth. But growth and change is an essential component of why we bring plants into our homes, so needs to be catered for.
Another lithops pot, and while I didn’t like the whiteness of the slashes down the sides, I enjoyed the solidity of the shape and the perforations. The form of the pot mimics the form of the plant, and the markings on the surface of the leaves. If only they had been able to dispense with the plastic plant pot inside…but life is not perfect.