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17 Feb 2016
When I told some fellow shopping-loving friends that I was writing a blog about Vessel, the general and universal response was a sound that spoke a thousand words... ‘Ooooooooo!’ I knew from their approving noises that this was going to be a shop that I would rather like. And in spite of the anticipation and high expectations, it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Vessel, on Victoria Street, is a haven of ceramic loveliness. I had never realised that ceramics could be so diverse and beautiful whist being so simultaneously functional. Each item is unique and if it could talk, would almost certainly tell a most engaging and interesting story of how it came to be such a thing of beauty. The fact that Vessel has exclusive relationships with many notable artists, says a lot about their dedication to ceramic art. Paul Melser, for example, has supplied Vessel from the beginning. He has had a resurgence in popularity since the use of his functional, no fuss pottery at Loretta on Cuba St.
Much like when visiting an art gallery, as I stepped off Victoria Street on a sweltering Saturday afternoon and entered ‘Vessel’, I felt my inner rhythm slow down and my shoulders drop. It was fun to ponder upon how each item came to fruition. These ceramicists are not just artists; what they create is also the epitome of form and function. As I took a leisurely gaze at a small, unassuming ceramic beaker, I noticed that each one had a slight thumb indentation, designed to make the everyday act of drinking just that little bit more ergonomically-friendly. I started to wonder what the weather outside might have been whilst the artist, Jill Bagnall, was gently pushing her thumb into the clay, or what music she might have been listening to. Each item has a history and has been made with talented hands and undeniable passion.
And the ceramics are in great company, sitting alongside other items which are certain to make your abode a more stylish place to be. Fabulous felts, beautiful blankets, stylish stationery and magnificent mats (there are truly not enough alliterative adjectives!). And I always know I’ve visited a shop of great worth when I go home and spend the next week coveting an item that I never even knew I wanted.
For days following my Vessel experience, I literally did not stop bending my husband’s ear about a mixing bowl. It was a ‘lightbulb moment’ where I suddenly realized that for all these years, humankind have been making mixing bowls all wrong. It was also insanely stylist and the artist Paul Maseyk, has created modern ceramic artistry which is adorned with haunting skulls, whimsical spots and toothy grins. Some of it is grotesque, but in the most delicious and refreshingly functional way.
The pastel tea-party inspiring pieces will transport you off to a happy place where cucumber sandwiches and sugar lumps are in abundance. The silky sleek white vases by Rachel Carter would make even the most perfect peonies look more perfect and the Chundi trophy heads… well, it’s not often I say this, but there simply aren’t any words.
What you’ll find in Vessel are not throwaway items to be used and replaced in a matter of years - they're things of merit and quality, designed to last the test of time. The price tags reflect this but they also reflect the individuality of each piece and the joy and care that has (sometimes quite literally) been poured into them.
The store showcases items by artists in varying stages in their careers. From Lyall Bay’s established artist, Kathryn Smyth to Masan Chidgey, a burgeoning artist from Wellington. A lot of it is made by Wellingtonians, much of the rest it is from New Zealand. It’s beautiful stuff from our beautiful place. And I think that’s rather special.
Let me know if you find (or have previously found) something special at Vessel.