In Praise of Kiku Rosa Nguyen

10 Apr 2019 – 5 May 2019

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White Conduit Projects

London, United Kingdom


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Through the medium of clay, she explores the natural world using ephemeral organic material and abstract ceramic vessels. On 1 May, Japan will enter a new imperial era of the ‘Chrysanthemum Throne’. To commemorate this historic event, Nguyen created a new work on this theme.


A mound of dried chrysanthemum flowers, stems and leaves is dipped in liquid porcelain clay and fired in a kiln. In this process, the soft organic material is burnt away, its form petrified into hard ceramic. A preserved memory of what once existed is left, the piece engaging with themes of absence and presence, while the complex surfaces and textures of the work recall wild landscapes.

The work also makes us consider the role that plants take in rituals of offering in other cultures. Rosa’s own background is a mixture of French, Vietnamese and British. In Britain, white chrysanthemums are perhaps most associated with funeral wreaths. In Vietnam, yellow chrysanthemums are symbolic of serenity and a humble lifestyle. Their dried petals are also used for tea, as they are claimed to have soothing properties, enabling the body to cool down during the summer heat. The East and the West, Yin and Yang always seem to coexist in her works.

Alongside this commission, Rosa is exhibiting works on paper made at her home in France. Every morning, she composed a work using dried flowers and weeds from the garden combined with ink, clay and pencil. It became a daily ritual or meditative activity for her. Each work is her visual diary of a single day and a reflection of the inner-world of her own mind.

These drawings seek to celebrate and preserve the ephemeral and transient. Rosa speaks of an affinity with the environment of rural France, which allows her to connect with the ‘cosmic forces’ that power her drawings. Beneath the starry summer skies, she feels connected to her surroundings and able to tune herself into the natural world.

Rosa believes that the natural elements she uses for her work such as plants, clay, fire and water have healing powers. Reincarnating them as an artistic practice is not only a creative but also a healing process. It is perhaps the presence of this eternal dimension that makes Rosa’s works so captivating.

Text by Megumi Yamashita

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Exhibiting artists

Rosa Nguyen


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