Friday, 19 December 2008

Magic Gardens

I’m somewhat slow off the mark, I know, but I feel I ought to mention the publication of Magic Gardens: The Underwater Art of Susan Williams-Ellis, a book for which I wrote an introduction and, together with Thamasin Marsh, selected and shaped the images.

Susan was the daughter of Clough Williams-Ellis, the man who built Portmeirion, and in her own right she was a fine designer. Her best known designs came with Portmeirion Potteries (most famously with their Botanic Garden range), but she had a long and varied career with a fantastic body of work.

There was a particular interest in the world of the sea. Back in the 1940s she learnt how to scuba dive and developed the tools that enabled her to sketch underwater. On her return to land, she would then work these sketches up as paintings. The same technique was employed in later life as she and her husband, Euan, travelled around the tropical waters of the world (though by then she preferred snorkelling to scuba diving), and it this work that is represented in Magic Gardens.

The book is available from the Portmeirion online shop, and this is a selection of images from it (the music is Trepanning by loungecore gods, the Gentle People):

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