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 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’.
Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882)
Charles Darwin was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist. We know him best for his contributions to the science of evolution, where he proposed the idea that all species of life have descended over time from a common ancestry. Accordingly, New Scientist stated that Darwin is "one of the most influential figures in human history".
Darwin published his theory of evolution and natural selection in his 1859 book "On the Origin of Species". Somewhat ahead of his time, his theories weren't generally accepted by science for nearly a century. Darwin, rather ironically, came from quite a religious family. He first trained as a Doctor, but supposedly found lectures rather dull and surgery quite unsightly. He instead discovered his love and curiosity with nature through extensive taxidermy lessons from John Edmonstone.
John Edmonstone (unknown)
John Edmonstone was born into slavery in British Guiana, sometime in the late 1700s. Edmonstone was put to work on a plantation owned by Scottish politician Charles Edmonstone, whose future son-in-law Charles Waterton, who would go on to become a renowned naturalist and explorer himself, would often visit. Waterton took to John, having him accompany him on expeditions, teaching him skills like taxidermy, which he would later use himself to educate the young Charles Darwin.
In 1817 John travelled to Scotland with his master, whose name he adopted, and earned his freedom. He moved to Edinburgh to work at the Natural Museum and teach taxidermy to students at the University.
Darwin and Edmonstone spent so long in each other’s company it is widely considered that John inspired Charles' interest in naturalism and desire to travel the world. Indeed, it was his lessons on bird taxidermy that taught Darwin how to detect the difference in species across islands.
It is also supposed that the time spent with Edmonstone influenced Darwin's theories on evolution. Mainstream theory during the period was that black and white people came from different origins, with whites descending from a ‘superior race’. Darwin vehemently despised slavery. He rejected all such notions of split origin. He was challenged to prove that all races traced back to a common ancestor and that together, humankind is entirely related.
John overcame slavery and extreme prejudice to earn his freedom and inspire some of the most important scientific thinking in history.
Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018)
Stephen Hawking was a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his passing. Prior to that, he was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.
Hawking began his University education at University College, Oxford in October 1959 at the age of just 17, where he received a first-class degree in Physics. He began his graduate work at Trinity Hall, Cambridge in October 1962, where he obtained his PhD in applied Mathematics and theoretical Physics, specialising in general relativity and Cosmology in March 1966.
Hawking was especially notable for his theories on black holes, contributions to theoretical physics and his proposals on the union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
His book ‘A Brief History of Time’ brought his complex ideas to a wider public audience and appeared on the Sunday Times bestseller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. A Fellow of the Royal Society, lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He achieved his unrivalled feats whilst living with motor neurone disease for more than 50 years.