Installation | Molly Hatch’s ‘Physic Garden’ at the High Museum

Posted in museums, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on March 15, 2014

Warm thanks to Courtney Barnes of Style Court for noting this one. More information and photos are available at her website. -CH

Press release (5 February 2014) from Atlanta’s High Museum of Art:

Two-story tall installation of 450 hand-painted plates were inspired by works in the High Museum’s Frances and Emory Cocke Collection of English Ceramics


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The High Museum of Art has commissioned contemporary ceramicist Molly Hatch to present Physic Garden, a two-story tall, hand-painted ‘plate painting’, which reinterprets works from its renowned decorative arts and design collection. On view starting March 12, the ‘plate painting’ will be installed in the High’s Margaretta Taylor Lobby and will be comprised of 456 plates featuring an original design inspired by two ca. 1755 Chelsea Factory plates from the Museum’s Frances and Emory Cocke Collection of English Ceramics, which totals more than 300 works.

Molly-HatchFinal_1194The historic source plates depict realistic flora and fauna in the Chelsea ‘Hans Sloane’ style of the early 1750s. The influential Chelsea Physic Garden, a botanical garden founded by the Society of Apothecaries in London in 1673, was leased by collector Hans Sloane and likely inspired neighboring factory porcelain decorators.

The High’s installation will be the largest ever produced by Hatch. She has created other works based on source material from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Hatch also designs her own line of products for national retailers such as Anthropologie.

“I am thrilled to work with such a talented contemporary artist as Molly and to have the outcome be such a dynamic and monumental acquisition for the High. One of the most exciting aspects of ‘Physic Garden’ is seeing the historic decorative arts and design collection through the lens of a creative young artist. We can’t wait for our visitors to experience this new work as well as revisit our important and beloved collection of English ceramics,” says Sarah Schleuning, curator of decorative arts and design at the High.

Hatch often sources historic works to make a contemporary counterpart, however this project marks the first time she is sourcing historic decorative arts from a museum collection to create a site-specific ‘plate painting’. To create the ‘plate painting’, Hatch digitally altered high-resolution images of the surface decoration of the source material to draft a new composition. She altered the original color, scale and composition of the Chelsea designs and then projected the new images onto 456 dinner plates (each 9.5 inches in diameter). She then hand-painted each plate using the projected image as a guide.

The complete installation will measure approximately 20 feet high by 17 feet wide. The Chelsea source plates are also on view in the High’s permanent collection Gallery 200, which patrons may visit to view the historic material. The High is acquiring the piece, which can re-installed by the Museum at future dates in smaller incarnations or in other locations.

“I encourage the viewer to see ceramics as a part of the fine art continuum—viewing plates as one would view a painting,” said Hatch. “For this installation, I’ve re-worked the surface imagery to create a new composition that reflects the historic. The artwork becomes an exploration of the relationship between the historic and the contemporary – crossing over categories of decorative art, design and fine art.”

Molly Hatch
Born in 1978, the daughter of a painter and a dairy farmer, Molly Hatch divided her childhood between physical labor, play, and creating art. She studied drawing, painting, printmaking, and ceramics and receiving her bachelor’s degree of fine arts from the Museum School in Boston in 2000. After several ceramic residencies and apprenticeships in the U.S. and abroad, she received her master’s degree of fine arts degree in ceramics at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 2008. In 2009, she was awarded the Arts/Industry Residency in Pottery at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin, which laid the foundation for her career as an artist designer. Hatch works from her home studio in Northampton, Mass., on everything from designing and illustration to one-of-a-kind pieces. Her work has been widely collected and commissioned and is exhibited nationally and internationally at art fairs and museums. Hatch’s work has also been widely licensed in partnership with Anthropologie, Galison, Chronicle, and other companies for homeware and stationery products. Her work has been featured in numerous publications from House Beautiful magazine to online publications such as Design*Sponge and Apartment Therapy. For the last two years, Hatch has been teaching a tableware course at Rhode Island School of Design. She also teaches ceramic and illustration workshops across the country as well as online courses through Creativebug. Her first book will be released in 2015.

3 Responses

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  1. Celia Wilson said, on March 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Dear Enfilade – the image of the two Chelsea Factory plates appears to be upside down, making the decoration appear to have been placed on the underside of the plate. When the image is rotated 180 degrees, the plates appear concave in shape.

  2. Editor said, on March 15, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks, Celia, for the interesting observation. The image, as it originally appeared, came from Molly Hatch’s website. Per your suggestion, I’ve taken the liberty of rotating it 180 degrees.


    • Celia Wilson said, on March 18, 2014 at 8:26 am

      I’ve noticed this phenomenon before, with some of my photographs! I will leave Molly’s image alone… Her installation is a delightful homage to the art of ceramics.

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