26 June 2011

Ceramic Cities Exhibition


Spode coverdish, pattern 2954 c1814
When looking at the history of the Spode and the company's early production in the late 1700s and early 1800s you will find that many designs and shapes were influenced by Chinese porcelain. A large part of the Spode business was producing high quality 'matchings' - pieces to complete or extend existing Chinese porcelain services and whole 'new' designs in the Chinese style to fulfil customers' requirements.

Many of Spode's designs retained oriental influences right up to 2009 and the closure of the factory when, ironically, they were manufactured in China.

Spode pattern 3143 c1820
Ceramic Cities: dialogues in design at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-in-Trent was a wonderful exhibition telling the story of two countries and two cities: Jingdezhan and Stoke-on-Trent.

The exhibition contained a feast of pots of both Chinese and English from the earliest times to contemporary ceramics. There were of course Spode pieces there and these were shown alongside their Chinese porcelain design source. There were items from private collections showing how individuals were enthused by oriental ceramics and some of these collections have been given to the museum.The contemporary pots were quirky and fun.

My favourites? Apart from the Spode, of course, and the film of manufacturing Chinese porcelain, I think the three pots used for the promotion of the exhibition as above. I have an interest in studio pottery and here are three pots perfectly displayed but amazingly dating from the 10th century to mid-20th century. This shows the oriental influence on the 20th century studio potters but also shows how hard it is to learn these different types - thank goodness there are highly knowledgeable museum experts out there to help us.

One of my favourite studio potters? Chris Prindl in Devon - have a look at his website showing his contemporary work influenced by Japanese designs: 
Porcelain teapot, c2008 by Chris Prindl