Big Beautiful Vase II (M83)

Catalogue Record



Lucian Taylor


Big Beautiful Vase II

Made in





Silver vessel with a four-sided body shape opening up to a wide lip, with a matt body and shiny top.

Materials and techniques

CAD (Rhino) to create templates for pattern; TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding to join seams together; hydroforming (pressurised water)


height:  35.5cm
width:  16cm
length:  16cm

Object number



  • Big Beautiful Vase II, Lucian Taylor, 2010, Crafts Council Collection: M83. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography.

Maker's statement

What place does this work have in the context of your career and development of practice? Big Beautiful Vase II is part of the Superabundant series which I have been developing since 2004/5. It represents reinvigoration of the series, revisiting the ideas that first sparked of the body of work and benefits from a maturation of ideas and processes. What are your sources of inspiration/reference for this piece? The Superabundant series in general revolves around themes of abundance, excess, consumption and luxury. The title Big Beautiful Vase II directly references BBW Magazine (a fashion and lifestyle magazine of large women). Any additional comments on the making of the object? A voluptuously curvaceous vase made from panels TIG welded together and then hydroformed to give it a plump fullness. Big Beautiful Vase II is part of the Superabundant series. The series began prior to the credit crunch and to an extent anticipated it. Back in those boom days it seemed we were all suppose to consume with verve: both to enhance our own happiness for the general good of society and the economy. If we didn't have the money at hand - no problem, we could take out a loan, perhaps using the increased value of your home to secure it. The distinctions between needs and wants/luxury and necessity were increasingly blurred (aided by the efforts of the manufacturers and the advertising industry). Superabundant was an attempt to examine the aesthetics of excess, both to celebrate it and question it, for plenitude brings both benefits and pitfalls. To take the example of food production and eating: industrial methods of food production has brought high-calorific food to such a low price that even the poor can over-eat. This surfeit of cheap food combined with increasingly sedentary lifestyles had a profound effect on the bodies of Western people. So whilst the economy continued to grow, seemly without limit, so did our bodies. The first European society to experience the challenges of over-abundance was the Netherlands in 17th Century. The societal and ethical tensions that this sudden excess of wealth brings are evident in the still-life painting of that period. In paintings such as Breakfast Piece by Willem Claesz Heda, a table is depicted with fine metal and glass wares, but in a state of terrible disorder, a flagon is tipped on its side and one plate hangs precariously over the edge of the table. As Norman Bryson writes in his essay 'Abundance in Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting', "it is as if production were thought of as intelligent, purposive, culture-building and consumption as stupid, anarchic and blind. Silverware features prominently in many of these pictures, particularly vanitas, and in a way Superabundant is still life made three-dimensional, engaging in a similar questioning of abundance as the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age. A vase is a sedentary object. It has no active utilitarian function. Its purpose is to display itself and what it might contain. To anthropomorphise, being sedentary it might like all of us expand a little around its girth. The title Big Beautiful Vase II pays reference to the lifestyle and fashion magazine for large women BBW Magazine. The voluptuous forms echo those of the women depicted by Rubens and Beryl Cook. The form is ripe (or overripe?) and sensuous. As with other pieces in the Superabundant series, BBV II explores the terrain between enough and too much. The piece appears to be solid and heavy, but is in fact surprisingly light. It is but a thin skin, like the membrane of a balloon. In short, it is a sham of a vase; an embodiment of unsustainable hubris; a bubble about to burst. Meaning can be carried as much by the processes of manipulating materials as much as in the resultant form. The initial design is created using CAD software - at this stage it is a simple geometrical shape. A flat pattern is made from this which is used to cut the panels out. TIG welding is used to fuse the edges of adjacent panels together. I prefer the directness of TIG welding over soldering - the welded seams I leave untouched after joining. The bulbous form of BBV II is not modelled - it is made by directly 'blowing up' (using high pressure water rather than air). Using this method of forming, I absent myself from entirely controlling the process, relying instead on the way the metal reacts to the forces it endures and constraints the form places on it. There is a tension between inflating the piece to ripe fullness and over-inflating so that they fail and burst. In BBV II the wavy curves down the side force the metal to contort, accentuating the inflated nature of the piece. Additionally the curving inwards of the form causes the base to change from flat to synclastic. In these post crunch days the Superabundant series remains pertinent, perhaps more so than when the bubble was inflating. Big Beautiful Vase II is a key piece in this series, representing both a mature exemplar and a stepping stone to future works.