Claire Luxton creates mural to launch Wedgwood’s new Wonderlust collection

The multidisciplinary artist speaks to Harpers Bazaar about creating art in lockdown, navigating social media, and the joys of being given access to a vast archive of fine china as part of her latest collaboration – HARPERS BAZAAR

“When I first saw it I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s me in a teacup!’” laughs the artist Claire Luxton, referencing the moment she first saw Wedgwood’s new Wonderlust collection, which acted as the inspiration for her extravagant new mural. “It had been so many months of studying the archives and researching, and then working on the 3D prints and layouts, so to finally see it in real life was amazing. Each piece felt like an art object – they’re just so precious.”

Creating work for Wedgwood, the beloved purveyors of heritage fine china, has become something of a rite of passage for contemporary artists. Founded in the mid-18th century, Wedgwood’s history is inextricably tied to the celebration of craftspeople, designers and artists, with recent collaborations spanning everyone from Hitomi Hosono to Lee Broom. In the 1930s the landscape painter Eric Ravilious became an ongoing collaborator with Wedgwood, while in the 1970s the Scottish sculptor and graphic artist Eduardo Paolozzi created a limited range of six plates using modern screen-printing techniques. For Luxton, a multidisciplinary artist whose large-scale printed works have been shown everywhere from the London Art Fair to Art Basel, joining that legacy was a high point in what was an often confusing and disorienting year.

“I’m such a history geek, so being able to work with a brand that has such a rich heritage was really thrilling to me,” Luxton tells Bazaar from her studio in Tunbridge Wells. “You’re building upon generations of craft that is already established. There’s so much history to discover in the archives, which was an amazing thing to do during lockdown.” Luxton says her approach to designing the mural was informed by the much-evoked but ever-relevant idiom from William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Having spent so much of the last year indoors, Luxton found a renewed appreciation for the everyday items that filled her home. “I think a lot about the way we engage with our environments, and that extends to the objects we populate our lives with,” she says. “For me, the objects in a room really influence my mood and how I feel within that space – they’re essential to my whole energy.”

Last August, Luxton penned an essay for Bazaar about the power of art during times of crisis. She cited Instagram as an unexpected source of community during the UK’s first lockdown. But, like so many other artists of her generation, Luxton has grappled with her relationship with social media. “I was never initially a fan of social media,” she admits. “But as the technology has evolved, I’ve come to realise that these communication tools are so powerful. It’s wonderful to have a community that allows you to have important conversations on a global scale.”

While Luxton boasts more than 130,000 followers on Instagram, she has found herself increasingly drawn to TikTok in the last few months, sharing immersive behind-the-scenes videos of her artistic process. “People are really interested in seeing how an artwork is created, so I wanted to offer a visual video diary that captured that process,” she says. “It’s a little bit more intuitive than sharing my finished, composed artworks on Instagram.”

Given Luxton’s changing views of social media, it should come as no surprise that her work often concerns itself with the tensions between nature and technology. Her work is deeply inspired by the natural world – flowers and butterflies are her most frequently recurring motifs – but they’re rendered in layered collages mixed with photography, or projected on to the side of buildings. “I’ve always been super-interested in nature and the environment, and how humans interact with nature and with the objects and materials of the physical world,” she says. “At its core, my practice is about exploring the balancing act between our relationships as humans with nature, and then our newfound reliance on and exploration of technology.”

Nature was, inevitably, playing heavily on Luxton’s mind while designing the mural for the Wedgwood collaboration. “When I was going through the archive, the Golden Parrot and the Wonderlust Sapphire Garden prints just popped out to me, and they became crucial in the artwork that I made,” she says. “I was adamant that I was going to involve the parrot in the final artwork, and have balance between the botanicals and the animals.”

Those botanical themes appear heavily in the mural Luxton created to mark the launch of the new 18-piece Wonderlust collection, which is available now. When we speak to Luxton, she’s putting the finishing touches to the 6 x 3 metre creation, which is being sold by the Scandinavian artisan wallpaper brand Feathr, who are renowned for working with contemporary artists to create digitally printed and bespoke murals. “Looking at the mural in my studio now, I’m just moved by the way these two worlds have been able to come together and reflect each other,” she says. “I think we’ve created something truly unique.”


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