Ceramic fruit created in the heart of Walsall has been chosen to form part of a high profile display at the National Gallery in London.
The “heritage apples” are the work of local entrepreneurs Nicky Smart and Lorraine Taylor and will be displayed in conjunction with a painting entitled Adam and Eve by Flemish artist Jan Gossaert.
The commission comes after the duo’s Penkridge Ceramics was supported by innovation project Winning Opportunities in Walsall (WOW) to responded to the challenges of the recession by streamlining their range and proactively targeting new commissions in galleries in both the UK and overseas.
Ms Smart said: “The Adam and Eve picture is owned by the Queen so to have our work featured is a tremendous honour and one that will boost our reputation with purchasers and commissioners even further.
“This particular project was one of the most prestigious we’ve undertaken during the last twenty-five years, with the choice of ‘heritage apple’ reflecting our ongoing interest and exploration of traditional British varieties of fruits.”
The firm showcased its collection of still life studies at this week’s Spring Fair International and will be doing the same at The Chelsea Flower Show in May. On display will be the recently developed collection of ceramic horse chestnut leaves and shells, apples, pears, exotic, orchard fruits and ceramic vegetables.
Ms Smart added: “Everything is done in the studio. We make Plaster of Paris moulds of the original model (which would be a real fruit) before casting in clay and firing it in the kiln. We then devise our own glazes and apply them to achieve the ‘super real’ effect.”
Penkridge Ceramics was established in 1984 by the pair after the two attained BA and MA qualifications in the field of ceramics.
After starting life in a small studio in the Staffordshire village that gave it its name, the company moved to Walsall in 1993 in a bid to expand its range of products that are now stocked in numerous independent retailers and bought by buyers from Australia, Europe and the United States.
The still life pieces start from £30 and sell for up to £1,500.