The story behind Hammershøi Summer's illustrations
'I’ve really tried to get close to the essence of summer.'
Chirping birds and sun-ripened berries. Butterflies fluttering from flower to flower. A touch of the sun's rays and the warm summer wind. With Kähler’s new Hammershøi Summer range, artist Rikke Jacobsen has once again created a blossoming watercolour universe on the iconic Hammershøi series designed by Hans-Christian Bauer. Once again, flora and fauna play a consistent role. As always, the motifs are vibrant, dynamic and evocative. Many of you may recognise her signature lines from her decorations on Kähler's Hammershøi Christmas, Hammershøi Spring, and Hammershøi Poppy series.
Shapes, colours, and feelings of a lush summer
According to Rikke Jacobsen, it is precisely the sense of nature’s presence and the authenticity of the season in each individual element, combined with modern watercolour art, that allows the overall design of the Hammershøi Summer range to eternally represent the epitome of summer.
"Strawberries. Blackberries. Blueberries. The peacock butterfly. The forget-me-not and the blue tit. These are part of the essence of summer, and the motifs are the result of a long process where I've really tried to get close to the essence of summer. To how summer looks and feels. What elements should I include in my illustrations? What illustrates summer without saying it in words – something that, without interpretation, tells us in a split second that something is about summer and gives us the feeling of summer. I discovered that the anticipation of summer is one of the most important things about summer. We look forward to it. We look forward to the light and time spent outside – not to mention socialising. Everything blossoms, including love. During the summer, we have these fantastic long hours of daylight that allow us to be more active. We spend time in nature with all its flora and fauna. So yes, for Hammershøi Summer, my inspiration has also largely been to illustrate this period of anticipation," explains Rikke Jacobsen, who points out that the forget-me-not has been particularly important for her to include as a central motif in illustrating this joy of anticipation.
"The forget-me-not is one of a kind. Known as the flower of poetry, it stands out as one of the first clear markers in botany, as we slowly slip into the lighter season and feel the summer getting closer and closer. So the forget-me-not is definitely the symbol of that early harbinger of spring, signalling that summer is just around the corner. And as it all progresses, we get to the berries. Berries are so important to us. Yes, we eat berries all year round now. But there’s something special about eating seasonal berries. Freshly picked. So, of course, they are also important to include in the storytelling of our shared summer,"
says Rikke Jacobsen, who with Hammershøi Summer also wants to extend summer and give us the opportunity to enjoy summer all year round.
& fresh berries
"I want to add extra meaning to the white porcelain and help to push the idea that summer is coming – even when you sit on your sofa under a wool blanket, clutching your coffee cup on a frozen winter's day, and the light and warmth of summer are a long way off," says Rikke Jacobsen, explaining that this is also why Hammershøi Summer watercolours are deliberately painted in brighter colours than the other Hammershøi series featuring her art.
"During my creative process with Hammershøi Summer, I focused on lushness and succulence, as well as our surrounding botanical nature and wildlife, as the warmer season approaches and unfolds. There should be plenty of dynamism and life. Symbols. By adding, for example, tiny animals, I've tried to encourage you to create your own individual interpretation and narrative about what summer is to you. Birdsong or fresh berries. What are you most looking forward to? It is therefore also important that I have a high level of familiarity in my illustrations, with very immediate associations to summer, so that everyone can recognise their particular joy of summer," explains Rikke Jacobsen and elaborates on the importance of creating motifs that can be seen, both as something very universal and useful – something the whole world can feel part of, while also keeping the design balanced.
"It should also be clear that an artist has sat behind the scenes and made an effort"
"Of course, it should be as natural as possible to just take your mug or bowl with you, and use parts of the range morning, noon, and night. I have based my work on some of the more historic decorations on classic porcelain, and then given them a modern twist of summer. In addition to harbouring summer memories, Hammershøi Summer may also be a little different from the other series in terms of its design. With Hammershøi Summer, I've tried to mix current and existing summer memories and, at the same time, draw our attention to something we remember from our childhood, thereby creating new and future memories," says Rikke Jacobsen, elaborating on how she builds up her watercolours layer by layer, with great respect for the heritage and authenticity of porcelain painting, and attempting to carry Kähler’s diverse universe of handmade design traditions from the old pottery workshop in Kindhestegade in Næstved into the present.
"When I paint, I feel like I am unifying the porcelain painting that everyone recognises from Kähler, with my own modern narratives and techniques. I work within a familiar framework, in which my artistic craftsmanship is recognisable. It also needs to be very detailed. In muted tones. And naturalistic. And there should be no doubt that it is painted. It mustn't look like a photograph. Therefore, the motifs must be balanced so that they do not become too real. And as an artist, I am very conscious of the fact that I have a great obligation – a great responsibility. I have to come up with an artistic contribution that will exist in harmony with the ceramic design. I am therefore very focused on the fact that, just like several hundred years ago, it should also be clear today that an artist has sat behind the scenes and made an effort," says Rikke Jacobsen, who takes pride in helping to shape and characterise the current Kähler brand.
"I am humble and proud that I am part of the modern art collective at Kähler. And I am also very aware of working in the spirit of Kähler. When you sit down with your mug or bowl bearing a Rikke Jacobsen motif, you should immediately recognise that this is a Kähler product. Because, just as there is a distinctive style or soul to my work, Kähler also has a very unique style and soul that I must both cherish and develop through my art. It is a fine balance between being multifaceted and, at the same time, daring to combine old craft traditions with a contemporary hand-painted watercolour art that fits into modern everyday life,"
- Rikke Jacobsen
All series illustrated by Rikke Jacobsen
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