Mary Philpott is far more than just a highly talented tile maker. It is perhaps best to describe her as the complete ceramic artisan because, in addition to custom-made and limited production art tiles, Philpott also produces exquisite vessels and sculptures.
Mary Philpott’s Verdant Tile Studio offers a broad portfolio of contemporary art tile designs, but her work should be seen as continuing a long and distinguished historical tradition.
Most notably, Philpott’s work embraces the spirit and philosophy of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Her tiles are also inspired by the landscape, flora and fauna of England and France; think of the colours of Provence combined with the aesthetics of William Morris.
All the tiles hand-made using traditional methods, being hand-drawn, carved and hand-pressed with unique imagery and subject matter. Layer upon layer of hand-applied transparent jewel tone glazes, and multiple firings, give the tiles a rich opulence and rare depth.
The tiles are designed for installation in fireplaces and hearths, or in kitchens and bathrooms. Verdant Tile Studio produces both short run and fully bespoke tiles. All these tiles have such a rich painterly quality that some clients choose to hang them on the wall in a frame, or install them on their own as features.
Philpott produces everything from 2in tiles up to 12in by 20in and 8in by 30in decorative panels. The larger tryptychs, such as the Garden of Poppies, are particularly striking: a glorious throwback to the golden age of the craftsman potter.
Philpott graduated from Sheridan College School of Craft and Design in 1995 with a degree in ceramics, having previously taken an Honours degree in Art history and Archeology at the University of Guelph. As well as her studio work, she has taught at various institutions; while her work has been exhibited in galleries and exhibitions across Canada, the USA and France.
Consistent subjects appear across the tiles. These include animals such as hares and hounds; insects including bees and dragonflies; tress such as oaks, rowans and pines; and flowers like poppies, hollyhocks, daffodils and columbine. Crows, fish and roosters also feature, alongside ravens and peacocks.
There are also a particular portfolio of work inspired by the father of the Arts & Crafts Movement in Britain, William Morris. These tiles are Philpott’s personal interpretation of some of the imagery from Morris’s tapestries, wallpapers and paintings.
Philpott also produces tiles inspired by William DeMorgan, Alphonse Mucha and Maurice Verneuille.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, May 2017.