Works Max Lamb, Bruce McLearn, Amy J. Hughes, and Shona Heath at Collect.
Photo: Andrew F. Wood

Poor Things Production Designer Shona Heath Unveils Debut Collection of Ceramics

First presented with 1882 Ltd. at Collect, the series reimagines one of the Oscar-nominated talent’s whimsical figures as a Surrealist light fixture

Lilyfoot and Spoon by Shona Heath for 1882 Ltd.

Lilyfoot by Shona Heath for 1882 Ltd. Photo: Shona Heath

Hot on the heels of her Oscar nomination and BAFTA Award win for conjuring the richly layered and eclectic melange of surreal worlds for Yorgos Lanthimos’s film Poor Things, Shona Heath has now unveiled her first series of limited-edition ceramic works. Made in collaboration with Emily Johnson, founder of design-driven ceramics brand 1882 Ltd, Lilyfoot debuted on March 1 at Collect, the leading international fair for contemporary craft and design, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

The piece draws on Heath’s vivid imagination, transforming a dreamy character into a sculptural light, constructed from stoneware, cherry and tulip woods, and opalescent glass. Its surrealist form evolved from a fantastical set Heath first conceived with the fashion photographer Tim Walker for his “Wonderful Things” exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in late 2019, originally inspired by a 16th-century teenage girl’s secret musical box, found in the museum’s archive.

“There was a miniature world inside it that I wanted to recreate on a large scale,” recalls Heath, who has also conjured ethereal scenography for photographers Nick Night and Paolo Roversi, as well as brands like Acne, Dior, and Jo Malone London. “For the set, I scaled up the materials; even the fruit was furry!”

Emily Johnson of 1882 Ltd. at Collect 2024 with work by Max Lamb, Bruce McLearn, Amy J. Hughes, and Shona Heath. Photo: Andrew F. Wood

For Lilyfoot, Heath wanted to produce a large piece that stayed true to the delicate, breakable nature of ceramics, but to ensure it “would feel fine but not so fragile,” she combined the sculpture with wood. “The fragility comes in the strange leaves and the precarious, playful nature of Lilyfoot standing on one leg,” she says. “The idea that it might topple over at any minute is a signature of my work and drives my set builders, Andy Knight Ltd, mad because it is hard and often risky to achieve.”

Heath envisaged Lilyfoot as having “one foot firmly on the ground, casting its sensitive yet large impish eye across all it surveys, listening to the hum and hubbub of life through its trumpet, taking shelter under the sway of a bluebell stalk, dotted with giant pearls wrapped in lily leaves, casting a warm glow all around.”

Shona Heath and Emily Johnson with an example in progress of Heath's Lilyfoot light fixture for 1882 Ltd. Photo: Andrew F Wood

Standing three feet tall and almost two feet wide wide, Lilyfoot was originally molded in clay by hand. Working with 1882 Ltd.’s talented potters, the artist next cast it in five separate molds. These forms were then pieced together while the clay was still green, dried in a series of movements—first lying down, then standing up—before being fired one last time.

Finished with earthy aquamarine glaze that has just a touch of gloss, Lilyfoot feels grounded in nature with its sculptural form set upon a knotty, burled piece of tulipwood and illuminated with a bluebell stalk punctuated with glowing opalescent orbs—with one more bulb emanating from a billowy flower.

Shona Heath with her work Lilyfoot for 1882 Ltd. Photo: Andrew F Wood

Shona Heath with her work Spoon for 1882 Ltd. Photo: Andrew F Wood

Additionally, Heath created a complementing fixture dubbed Spoon. Hand molded then cast and painted, the work was inspired by a piece Heath found in an African shop at the Ridley Road Market near her home in east London, as well as a beloved Italo Calvino short story, “The Distance of the Moon.” The combination made Heath imagine a spoon scooping up a loose pearl that Lilyfoot had dropped on the lunar surface.

“I am a storyteller, a dream teller,” says Heath. “I see things before I go to sleep. Often, because I look at a lot of things—nature, different cultures, words, book titles and lyrics, art and architecture—they stay somewhere on my eyelids. Sometimes they are more a feeling than an image, but they are always there.”

Lilyfoot, a work in progress. Photo: Andrew F Wood

Heath’s Lilyfoot and Spoon are on view at Collect alongside other new works for 1882 Ltd. by Scottish artist Bruce McLean, British ceramicist Amy J Hughes, Australian-British polymath Martyn Thompson, and London-based designer Max Lamb.

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“Shona is one of the most amazing, out-of-the-box, fantastical designers and yet she makes it look so elegant as well,” says Johnson. “I have the joy of working with artists I consider geniuses; I want to celebrate all these people who have vivid imaginations, wild creativity, and a sense of escapism. It is nice to give them the chance to really let go in a medium that has, in terms of a factory environment, often been considered quite staid.”

“Lilyfoot is a little odd and a bit funny,” says Heath. “It is both cute and creepy, childish and sophisticated—there is an edge of ugly to it, which people will be unsure of, but I see this as a positive thing because I love it all the same.”

Cover: Works Max Lamb, Bruce McLearn, Amy J. Hughes, and Shona Heath at Collect.
Photo: Andrew F. Wood


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