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Paul Cummins: Florian In Detail Paul Cummins: Florian In Detail
24 June 2024

Paul Cummins: Florian

In Detail
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P站色情片's present exhibition, In Plain Sight, showcases new artworks by ceramicist and artist Paul Cummins MBE. Taking inspiration from the individuality of flora, Cummins explores the beauty in the everyday through both the medium of painting and sculpture. Discover more about the British artist's practice and hand-sculpted ceramic sculpture Florian below.
 
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Paul Cummins MBE (b. 1977) is a British artist and ceramicist whose practice engages with varying flora via dynamic compositions...
Paul Cummins MBE
Florian (White), 2020-2021
Powder coated stainless steel and unglazed porcelain
150 x 150 x 25 cm

Paul Cummins MBE (b. 1977) is a British artist and ceramicist whose practice engages with varying flora via dynamic compositions and large-scale installations. Using a combination of metal wire, clays, and vibrant glazes, his works communicate the heterogeneity of his subject matter. Known for his studio practice, Cummins centres the artisan who assists in creating the flower as a unique entity; with each hand-sculpted petal, the creator makes their mark. To this end, Cummins says that he views each flower as an individual, whether via creation or iconographically; upon close inspection, his seemingly uniform floral amalgamations present idiosyncrasies that fashion this narrative.


Cummins is widely regarded for his vast public commissions, but his more recent practice has developed on a smaller scale. The current P站色情片 Gallery exhibition: In Plain Sight proudly presents one of his ceramic wall works: Florian, in addition to several of his mixed media on paper florals. The conversation forged between these two types of works speaks to Cummins’ duality as an artist, both in his appreciation of flora’s tactility and in his sensitive observation of tone and colour.

Cummins is best known for his 2014 collaboration with the Tower of London entitled: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of...
The poppies surrounding the Tower of London on the 8th November 2014 漏 BBA Photography

Cummins is best known for his 2014 collaboration with the Tower of London entitled: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, that assumed the entire moat surrounding the Tower. This installation was created to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and comprised 888,246 individual ceramic red poppies in a tidal configuration around the grounds; each laid flower was intended to commemorate the life of a fallen soldier killed on the frontline during the war.

From the 17th of July, Cummins and several thousand volunteers ‘planted’ the poppies. Different heights were accorded to each stem, making the scape emulate pastoral rolling hills. The work was unveiled on the 5th of August. Thereafter, the deinstallation began, and members of the public were given the opportunity to purchase a ceramic poppy for the price of £25, with proceeds being shared across six service charities.

The poppy – a commonly regarded symbol of remembrance and peace – though ephemeral in its being, is rendered permanent via its clay fabrication. The piece hinges on the sensitivity of temporality, with the poppies living on as memento in peoples’ homes. So evocative was this installation that more than five million people are estimated to have visited over the course of its tenure. Edwin Heathcote, journalist for the Financial Times, lauded it as ‘the most popular art installation as well as arguably the most effective expression of commemoration in British history.’

 

Thereafter, Cummins has proliferated the floral motif, creating visually gratifying displays that emulate transience and beauty. Candy (2015) was unveiled...
Paul Cummins holding a hand-sculpted ceramic rose.

Thereafter, Cummins has proliferated the floral motif, creating visually gratifying displays that emulate transience and beauty. Candy (2015) was unveiled at the Chelsea Flower Show and constituted an eight-metre-high sculpture adorned with 2,300 hand-painted ceramic tulips.

In an interview about this commission, the artist addressed its narrative as one harking toward our consumption of commodities. This totem, stood amidst abundant stallholders at the world-famous flower show, evoked conversation surrounding the human impulse to consume, consolidate and preserve natural beauty.

In the present exhibition, Cummins has adapted to a smaller scale. Florian (2020-2021) comprises almost 70 hand-sculpted white roses made...
Florian (detail) white flowers on stainless steel armature, 150 x 150 cm, 2020 - 2021


In the present exhibition, Cummins has adapted to a smaller scale. Florian (2020-2021) comprises almost 70 hand-sculpted white roses made with paper clay. Each flower is made up of six to eight layers of carefully assembled petals to assume its form. Unlike his previous works, the flowers are left unglazed. This decision, coupled with their high-heat firing to around 1300 degrees has led to the effect of stone transparency while maintaining its tensile strength.

The transparency enables shadows to be cast through the petals; this imbues the flowers with the same weightlessness their natural counterparts possess. Speaking about the process, Cummins ‘commemorates’ the flowers lost to the firing process. ‘The Roses are made with paper clay; it makes them strong - like a porcelain, but they're still fragile. They're still a flower. If you wanted to, you could crush it in your hands, so it still has the fragility of the original thing I was trying to make.’ - Paul Cummins MBE

 

On its opposite wall, brand new works on paper by Cummins adorn the gallery. These are never-before seen works that...
Paul Cummins MBE
Florals Blue II, 2024
Mixed media on paper
100 x 70cm

On its opposite wall, brand new works on paper by Cummins adorn the gallery. These are never-before seen works that focus on the materiality, tone, colour and texture of the flower. These pieces abstract the floral motif by homing in on different parts of the bloom. Though disparate in intention, these works are akin to Georgia O’Keefe’s cropping practices that engender celebration of form and tone over comprehensive study.

Picking and growing his own flowers, Cummins undergoes a process of distilling the flowers down to create a powder pigment. He then mixes this with a bonding agent to create a liquified, paintable medium. These works therefore capture the ephemerality of the florals in their literal binding to the canvas.

While Cummins has used flowers throughout his career, his appreciation has developed and grown in each of his outcomes. From large public commissions to sensitive studies, the human element remains central to his philosophy.

 

If you are interested in adding to your collection, speak to an art consultant today info@halycongallery.com

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