Break the Mould – the heroes behind the design
When we kicked off our collaboration with Hatch we had a very specific idea in mind. We wanted to celebrate and pay homage to a group of homegrown British people that broke the mould – creative, brilliant people that dared to stand out among their peers, who did things differently to the people before them, who changed the course of history through their ideas, imagination, creativity, will, hard work and contributions to society. It’s not exhaustive, of course, but it’s a pretty good start. And we knew Hatch’s completely unique style was the only way to bring this to life.
So here we thought we’d tell you a little more about the unique characters that feature on the Venus & the Cat indoor pot ‘Break the Mould’.
Tim Berners Lee (born 8 June 1955)
You're reading this right now on the Internet. Without Tim Berners-Lee, that simply wouldn't be possible. You see, Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA FBCS, Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, invented the World Wide Web. That's significant mould breaking.
Back in 1989, Berners-Lee implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet. The first ever Internet upload.
Berners-Lee is still a fundamental voice on the ongoing development of the internet. He is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which oversees the continued development of the Web, the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and is also a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com founders chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He is a director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. In 2004, Berners-Lee was knighted for his pioneering work. In April 2009, he was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences. He received the 2016 Turing Award "for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale" and was named in Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century.
Arguably, his invention brought literature to a broader audience than perhaps ever before, so on the Venus & the Cat indoor pot we thought it might be fun to have him showing the Internet to…
William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616)
Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest ever writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. "The Bard" wrote some 39 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems, all of which have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. They also continue to be studied and reinterpreted around the world. Not a lot is factually known about the young Shakespeare, such is the record keeping of its age. His birthdate, schooling, childhood home and so on are all up for some debate. His marriage to Anne Hathaway was documented, telling us it was somewhat rushed through, seemingly because she had fallen pregnant with the teenage Bill's first of three children. But thereafter his story is sketchy, with many a historian taking a good imaginative guess at what the Bard was up to (Stratford legend has it that Shakespeare fled the town for London to escape prosecution for deer poaching in the estate of local squire Thomas Lucy. Shakespeare is also supposed to have taken his revenge on Lucy by writing a scurrilous ballad about him!). What we do have on record is that by 1592 his plays were being performed on stage in London, the earliest mention of which is actually a stinging rebuke of his work by playwright Robert Greene, who considered the young upstart Shakespeare rather below him and his peers. Shakespeare, acting in plays himself, didn’t relent, though, co-founding a group of players known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Once the company was awarded a royal patent by the new King James I, it changed its name to the King's Men and built their own theatre on the south bank of the River Thames, which they named the Globe. The expansion gradually made Shakespeare a very wealthy man, switching his time between London and Stratford, where he bought in to land and large property.
During his lifetime Shakespeare was well appreciated and much critiqued. Not until after his death and across the centuries that followed was his work more widely distributed, appreciated by a growing audience and translated across borders. Voltaire, Goethe, Stendhal, and Victor Hugo, for example, were huge advocates that brought new eyes and appreciation upon Shakespeare’s work.
Not a great deal is known for certain about Shakespeare’s death, although half a century later, John Ward, the vicar of Stratford, wrote in his notebook: "Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and, it seems, drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted”. So he went out in style, it seems.