“Blott Kerr-Wilson is the most innovative shell artist working today.”
(Ingrid Thomas, author of The Shell, Thames & Hudson)
Blott Kerr-Wilson grew up in North Wales. Her shelling career began when she created her first shell interior in her small council flat bathroom in south east London. The prestigious magazine, The World of Interiors ran a worldwide completion to ‘Design a Room’. The bathroom was entered and it won. Since that time she has not looked back, and now travels the world creating huge bespoke shell installations and individual artworks.
Her individual art pieces are informed by the mathematical nature of shells, their movement and colour. It was a commission in the Caribbean that initially freed Blott from the tradition of using many different types of shell in one piece of work. For the first time she began using two shells exclusively: the common blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and the abalone (Haliotis). The careful setting of hundreds of these shells in the resulting compositions gives an illusion of movement. Her work brings to mind the fluid movements and iridescence of the sea; an idea perfectly distilled in the use of perhaps her favourite shell, the mussel. The appeal of this particular shell is not just the fact that it is a bi-valve, but its iridescent strong blue, purple, black and white colours. The light, catching the surface of the shells, emphasizes texture and form and Blott plays with this to create pieces that bring shell work to a mesmerizing art form. These extraordinary works break the boundaries of her chosen medium. Each of her interior installations come together by working closely with the clients, with each creation different to the last.
Blott gained some of her shell education from visiting many of the great shell houses and grottoes that still exist today. However, early on in her shell career she decided that this form of decoration needed to be pushed forward. Apart from a few wonders of the world such as Goodwood House in the UK, many shell-decorated places are dusty, cobwebby and dank. Blott has brought shell decoration into the light and the now.
Blott talks about ‘shelling’ when describing what she does I think it is surely time for her own verb.