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Led by artist Alice Andrea Ewing, Pomarius is an ongoing collaborative project that results in the creation of bronze sculptures that are direct casts of specimens such as nuts, fruit and leaves from gardens, historical locations and ancient trees across Britain. Cast using an adaptation of the Italian Lost Wax casting process in Alice’s Foundry in Suffolk, previous pieces and collections have been developed with walled gardens and estates in East Anglia, Soho Farmhouse and the Eden Project, casting tropical produce from the biomes.
Alice answered some of AUTHOR’s questions to give us insight into her work and inspiration.
How were you introduced to bronze casting?
After I finished my degree I was trying to find a way back to making. It had always been my intention to do so having taken History of Art to benefit my own practice as an artist. I began writing to various different artists, volunteering myself as a studio assistant. One of these artists was a bronze caster or founder-sculptor (a sculptor who actually casts their own work as well as modelling/developing it, a fairly uncommon situation). After several months loading skips, I was gradually entrusted with parts of the process, eventually being offered a sort of atelier style apprenticeship. Long before that moment, however, and much to my surprise, I had already succumbed to the ‘midas effect’ and was enchanted by both the medium and the process.
How did Pomarius start?
Pomarius as its own design studio originated from a residency I undertook at a walled garden in East Anglia a few years ago. I have a general practice which is grounded in bronze but have come to consider this work somewhat distinct since it often involves the collaboration of locations, gardeners and growers.
The etymology of the name ‘Pomarius’ comes from the latin word that means ‘fruit-seller’; however, I had also taken it from the meaning ‘from the walled warden’, linked to the goddess/nymph Pomona, deity of fruit trees, orchards and fruitful abundance.
What is it about bronze that makes it so special?
In part it’s the history, how long the material has been with us as a species and a civilisation. For me, it’s also the absurdity of the process – bronze pours are back to front, nonsensical events where solids are liquids; the humblest materials direct and command the process (plasters, hessian, bronze, molten metal). And it’s tempo, that of the whole process is so long and slow. It contrasts the tempo of contemporary life and our normal expectation of the materials around us.
There are also many different methods of casting bronze – sand casting, ceramic shell, Italian (my method), vacuum casting. The alloy itself has changed a great deal in recent decades, adapting and improving the fluidity of the metal with different chemical combinations and additions.
What are the properties of bronze that make it ideal for sculpture and why do you use it over other metals?
Where do you draw inspiration from for your bronze pieces?
The places they grown in; the colours and forms of the original produce. Not all vegetables or forms are as pleasing, there are certain qualities I look for when I’m in the garden. It may be the form, the connotations of that particular variety or the gardener’s personal preference. I like archetypal fruits to be mixed in with those that are rotten or ‘on the turn’. It reminds me of the vanitas genre in painting.
You’ve cast some beautiful bronzes of Conference Pears that were grown in the grounds of AUTHOR Interiors, making them truly unique which we absolutely adore. How do your collections come about?
Many of Pomarius’ collections have developed from personal relations between people and their homes, specific or ancient trees, and shared memories within these places. In every case, the translation into bronze is understood as a making explicit of the inherent value already held by the organic specimens – a value understood by the gardeners and carers of these locations.
What is your favourite part of the making process? Is it a specific part or the whole journey?
The whole journey in casting is very long, I think you have to enjoy all of it. I enjoy having the ability to move between different methods and processes over the course of creating a collection.
I love patination as it has such a dramatic effect on the final works. It lifts the whole experience of a piece from the mentality of the metal bench to an object you want to touch and hold. I’m always nervous during a bronze pour but I enjoy the adrenaline and the relief at the end of a casting day.
Do you have any particular design heroes or other makers your work has been influenced by?
No one place or person – I enjoy seeing and being in very well curated and considered spaces, be that an interior or a garden. There are so many potentially influences these days, with a variety of aesthetics to get behind. Naturally, I would have to mention the artist Anya Gallacio, albeit her work inhabits a very different mindset to this.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working with a walled garden in Suffolk to produce a new collection of works from the grounds for this Spring. It’s been a year long residency for Pomarius, collecting different varieties of produce over the seasons.
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