Finding the works of Juan Sanches Cotan born, on the 25th of June 1560 coincidentally sharing the same birth date with Clay, although some 340 years earlier, inspired Clay’s still life photographs for his recent book of “Heritage Fruits & Vegetables.” This being a collaboration with Thames & Hudson and The Royal Horticultural Society, with text by Toby Musgrave.
Cotan reproduced a ‘contorero’ a pantry in which fruit and vegetables were traditionally suspended to prolong freshness, to create his still lives. Traders in the hot and dusty streets of Marrakech still use this method to display their produce. A carpenter friend constructed one for Clay making it possible to capture the beauty of these important foods, working closely with Tim and Candy Smit , and all at the’ Lost Gardens of Heligan’.
The book was an amazing wonderful collaboration, freshly plucked produce changed hands at Reading, Paddington and Earls Court stations and was photographed in the corner of Clay’s studio in Ladbroke Grove. it was extraordinarily successful resulting in a glorious record of these important heirloom fruits and vegetables that we must fight to preserve.
Some of the photographs have been exhibited at WIsley Gardens, the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan and the RHS autumn exhibition 2012 where they received a gold medal.