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Tamsin van Essen

MA work

Vanitas Vanitatum: A garniture of beauty and decay


This collection explores the transience of beauty and the futility of excess. Inspired by the melancholy opulence of seventeenth-century Dutch vanitas paintings, and the tragic allure of Dickens’ Satis House, I aim to capture the fragile moment when abundance turns to decay.


An exuberance of decoration disrupts the vases’ forms, implying deterioration and ruin. Frozen in time just at the point of disintegration, the vases represent an ornamental memento mori, hinting at the impermanence of material existence and the inevitable decline of beauty.


Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA Ceramics & Glass, 2012

  • Vanitas Vanitatum: A garniture of beauty and decay


    This collection explores the transience of beauty and the futility of excess. Inspired by the melancholy opulence of seventeenth-century Dutch vanitas paintings, and the tragic allure of Dickens’ Satis House, I aim to capture the fragile moment when abundance turns to decay.


    An exuberance of decoration disrupts the vases’ forms, implying deterioration and ruin. Frozen in time just at the point of disintegration, the vases represent an ornamental memento mori, hinting at the impermanence of material existence and the inevitable decline of beauty.


  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons), Ceramic Design, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, 2007; BA (Hons), Physics & Philosophy, University of Oxford, 1998
  • Experience

  • Freelance ceramic designer, 2007 to present
  • Exhibitions

  • Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2012; Le Décor est Planté, Fondation Bernardaud, Limoges, France, 2011; Skin, Wellcome Collection, London, 2010; Small Show Huge Talent, Sotheby's, London, 2009
  • Awards

  • Second prize, Wellcome Trust Design for Science Award, 2007; Winner, Chartered Society of Designers Award, 2006; Winner, William Atkinson Scholarship, 2006