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Portrait photograph by Michael Branthwaite

Zuleika Melluish

'A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to create a perennial garden from scratch in the foothills of the Cambrian mountains. Making a garden is a long, slow process, and that, combined with its distance from my home in London, means it is an unruly garden untended for long periods of time so that nature takes over: plants self seed and grow where they will, wildlife nests and burrows without bounds. Every visit to the garden has a surprise with something new and unplanned appearing in the beds or lawns or dell. Inevitably this makes me look closely at what is growing, often initially just to identify the plants that have appeared, and then to respond with my own planting by trying to combine with and compliment what is already there. Through these observations I became enchanted with the complexity and detail in the flowers and foliage and have sought to capture both in my ceramics.'

Zuleika Melluish is a London-based ceramic artist. Her work takes direct inspiration from the plants around her, from the Wisteria that covers the outdoors walls of her Kentish Town studio to a perennial garden in the foothills of the Cambrian mountains in Wales. 

Zuleika works between slab-built vessels, impressed with dried and fresh botanical materials gathered from her own garden, and her most recent series, botanical porcelain sculptures - 'moving from inscribing clay with the structure of plants to building their forms three dimensionally'.


Her work has been exhibited since 2018 including: Collect, London (2023 & 2024);  Edinburgh Art Fair; 1000 vases, Milan; and ‘Gatherers’ at OmVed Gardens, London; and featured in various publications including World of Interiors and House & Garden.

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'Hanging Wisteria', Porcelain, wire and abaca paper, h. 140 x dia. 100 cm, by Zuleika Melluish

Photograph by Michael Branthwaite

Zuleika on her botanical porcelain sculpture series:


'I am fascinated by the physical quality of plants: the textures and patterns of leaves, stems and flowers. I enjoy the challenge of replicating every detail of the plant: first observing and dissecting the living plant and then modelling each component by hand. I am awed by the complexity of a plant’s construction and, beyond its botany, how every petal or leaf has a subtle difference in the way it curls or ripples or curves. These aspects lend themselves well to hand-making, so although a repetitive process, each small piece is satisfyingly unique.’

‘This collection began with my trying to find a way to capture the tangled messiness of the Jasmine that I have growing in my garden and have seen tumbling over walls as I walk around London. I love the way the neat scented flowers and the precise pinnate leaves contrast with the plant’s undisciplined rambling nature. Similarly Wisteria has a delicacy in flower that belies its rampant strength. Acanthus leaves are an age-old architectural motif, but their incredible sculptural flowers, made up of a tissue-thin corolla encased by spiny sepals, are often overlooked. By juxtaposing the assumed fragility of porcelain with malleable wire attached and visually softened with tissue paper, I aim to capture this contradiction of strength and delicacy which is so often a characteristic of plants and flowers.’

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‘Living with these sculptures, I am startled to see how, in spite of the static nature of the material, they are constantly changing. As when looking up into the canopy of a tree or watching Wisteria flowers hanging in front of my studio window, these pieces are full of movement as they continually respond to the play of light. The absence of colour or glaze and the hardness of wire and porcelain allows the forms to take on a surprisingly organic life of their own, which is a very satisfying outcome considering the awesome vitality of the plants that are my inspiration.’

G A L L E R Y   C O L L E C T I O N

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