This talk is part of the Public Programme for the exhibition of Constance Spry.
During her career, Constance Spry didn’t just create floral arrangements with living flowers. She also created realistic and beautifully observed floral decorations from paper and fabric.
Taking inspiration from these floral decorations, for this talk we have invited three renowned artists who create exquisite flowers from very different materials.
Sourabh Gupta (New York, paper), Kirk Maxson (San Francisco, metal) and Katie Spragg (London, clay), will each share their work and practice. The conversation will delve into each artist’s creations, what inspired them to focus their work on flowers, and the role nature has played in their artistic journey.
Sourabh Gupta is a New York-based, Indian-born, multidisciplinary designer and a maker working at the intersection of art, design, and architecture. While his inspirations to question, explore, and innovate are surely broad, at the center of it all is but one desire—to create.
His recent work explores the concept of botanicals in nature. While studying at The Parsons School of Design, he deconstructed the concept of what a flower was. He approaches flowers as intricate individual micro-worlds and expresses them via form, gesture, color, and material as botanical sculptures. Sourabh began working with these botanicals in paper and is now expanding to porcelain, metal, and other everyday materials to create a magical moment of a plant that is a frozen slice of poetry—when the light shines on the petals and they dance as the wind passes by.
His recent work has been featured in The New York Times’ T magazine, Elle Magazine, Reuters TV, India Design Forum, Bolton Historical Museum, Design Boom, Instagram original content, and at the Met Gala where he provided 300 daisies from which Tory Burch made her gown. He recently had a chapter dedicated to his work in the Kinfolk Garden book published by The Artisan Publishers New York. Sourabh's upcoming work will be featured in the spring issue of The New York Times’ T magazine, displayed at the Lyndhurst Museum in the Hudson Valley, and he is doing an upcoming collection for Bergdorf Goodman.
Maxson grew up in Lane County just outside of Eugene, Oregon on Spencer’s Butte in the Seventies. He lived on five and a half acres with his family. His formative connections with nature were spent with his mother. They would roam for hours in the woods and meadows searching for mushrooms. Hunting for mushrooms engaged Maxson with his surroundings and fostered a lifelong curiosity and investigation of the natural world. He learned from his mother’s collection of guide books and soon acquired his own on North American mammals, birds, and wildflowers.
His parents divorced in 1981 and he moved to Los Angeles with his mother. Maxson went to Santa Monica High School and took weekend art classes At USC in drawing and ceramics. He then studied sculpture at UCSB under Anne Hamilton, an installation artist that used non traditional materials for her art. His ideas of what artwork could be and what it could be made out of expanded.
Maxson moved to San Francisco in 1992, and lived in The Mission and participated in the San Francisco Mission art scene. He exhibited artwork in the seminal exhibition spaces of Adobe books, Scene/Ascena, and ESP during the height of the Mission School.
He has created multiple permanent site-specific installation for corporate collections including ClimateWorks Foundation, San Francisco, CA, Kilroy Realty Corporation, Bellevue, WA, UBM, San Francisco, CA, Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA, Morgan Stanley Corporate Collection, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Collection, Avant Corporate Collection, Menlo Park, CA and Fresh Connection Corporation, Lafayette, CA.
He has also created numerous installations for private residences. He is represented by Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Fransisco, and has previously worked with Eli Ridgeway Gallery and the Gensler Architecture firm in San Francisco.
Working predominantly in ceramics, I create artworks that peer into our interconnected relationship with nature, questioning the evolving patterns in which humans and plants co-exist. I am interested in the tension and space between managed and cultivated landscapes and the resourcefulness of nature, through my work I pull focus to the margins and intersections. By creating imaginary worlds, enlarging or miniaturising specific compositions, I hope to encourage a deeper investigation into how plants behave and how their behaviour can help us reconsider our own approach to communities and landscape.
I often create work in response to participation of other people, most recently through Arts Council funded projects Plants, Porcelain, People with Norwich International Youth Project and Caroline Fisher projects and Lambeth Wilds with Lambeth Young Carers and Clay for Dementia group at the Garden Museum.
Katie’s catalogue of work includes a piece in the V&A collection, a permanent installation at the Garden Museum and commissions for the British Ceramics Biennale and Sotheby’s. She has exhibited with the Craft Council in London and Miami, at Make, Hauser & Wirth and with solo shows at Blackwell, Arts and Crafts House the Garden Museum and Pi Artworks. Katie is a tutor at the Royal College of Art and a founding member of Collective Matter; an outreach group pioneering collaborative practice through clay
Tania Compton - chair
Tania Compton - chair