Hitomi Hosono’s Leaves Bowl (2014) is a creation of pure white porcelain on display in The Sainsbury Centre in Norwich. Delicate individual leaves layer on top of each other to build depth and form the shape of the bowl. At the base of the bowl, these white leaves are contained within a single plane but towards the apex of the bowl they furl outwards generating a sense of motion within the piece. The artist is inspired by nature and this can be clearly seen in Leaves Bowl – it instantly evokes scenes of plants swaying in the wind. Born in Japan but currently living in the UK, Hosono’s pieces deliberately combine Japanese and European traditions to form exquisite, unique ceramics. Examples of her work can be found on display all over the world including in the British Museum, the Smithsonian Design Museum, the Musée Guimet and the Utadatsuyama Craft Gallery.
The majority of the Sainsbury Centre’s permanent collection is displayed in “The Living Area”. The unconventional style in which artworks are displayed in The Living Area was conceived by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury to mirror how they had displayed and enjoyed them in their own home. The permanent collection shows ethnographic pieces, some of which are thousands of years old, alongside modern works of art. Apart from the smallest objects, pieces are displayed individually and the visitor is free to wander between them. Leaves Bowl can be found in a glass case, just outside The Living Area, grouped with other modern and contemporary ceramics.
Directly adjacent to Leaves Bowl is Janice Tchalenko’s Bowl (1990) which on first glance seems completely different to Leaves Bowl with its bold colourful pattern and smooth, rounded sides but on studying the two bowls together their overall size and underlying shape are remarkably similar. The placement of Leaves Bowl invites the viewer to compare it to the other pieces in the display case and consider it in the context of modern ceramics – an exercise that is simultaneously stimulating and limiting. The location of this case in the commercial space, between the shop and cafe, means that it is easy to overlook or confuse with works for sale (displayed in exactly the same way).
Finally, the experience of seeing the Leaves Bowl in person compared with viewing it online is strikingly different – up close the true detail and intricacy of the sculpture can be appreciated and how this continues on the inside of the bowl noted. However, the current display does not do justice to the object. Rather than grouping Leaves Bowl with other objects in a glass case, displaying it individually against a monochromatic background would allow Leaves Bowl to be admired as a standalone work of art and the colour choice to have maximum impact. The current display makes it difficult to see the inside of Leaves Bowl, this could easily be rectified by placing it lower which would allow the detailed inside of the bowl to be on full display and would enrich the viewing experience. Despite its unfortunate placement, Leaves Bowl is still a stunning ceramic that is well worth seeing.