Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Ceramics Gallery at the V&A

I'm guessing that there are people like me who have been watching The Great Pottery Throw Down on BBC2 and thinking "must pay a bit more attention to ceramics"!

So last week I took the lift to the sixth floor of the Victoria & Albert Museum and walked the whole length of the V&A - from end to end and round the corner - because that's how big the galleries need to be that house the V&A's Ceramics Collection.  It's very very difficult to give you a sense of how the galleries just keep going one after the other.

View of part of Room 136
Since they were refurbished and reopened (do click the link - it's fascinating story of why it took 6 years) a lot of the ceramics from other galleries - such as the Japanese Gallery which reopened recently - have been making their way up to the 6th floor.

To say that the V&A collection of ceramics is monumental would be a gross understatement.

It's spectacular, it's staggering and it's stashed several pieces deep in very tall and very deep display cabinets which line the gallery walls - and the occupy the middle as well.

In fact, as the website says.....
The V&A houses the greatest and most comprehensive collection of Ceramics in the world.
Here are links to some of the explanations of what the Galleries (Rooms 133-145) have to offer
Below is a picture essay of some of the objects I photographed in the galleries.

I've been a big fan of Iznik pottery - particularly those with plant motifs (see
Plant Motifs and Art (#2) at the V&A)
and the green celadon ware of Japan, China and Korea for some time - but the programme made me think I needed to widen my horizons and find out more.

Iznik pottery
some celadon pieces
However colours can also be a lot more bold - these were from China I think

The colours cross the centuries. These are I think from the 20th century
It's somewhat overpowering to see lots of examples of some types of ceramic all together - particularly if they are highly decorated.

This is a small part of the Majolica Collection.

Majolica 1500-1575 (aka as 'maiolica')
This is Stoneware, Lead Glazed earthenware - French medieval ceramics - dating between 1300-1700.

Stoneware, Lead glazed earthenware - between 1300 and 1700
This is my favourite ceramic in the whole of the V&A - and I'm so sad to see it up at the top of a very tall cabinet

This is earthenware by Bernard Palisy - made between 1565 and 1585
Lead-glazed earthenware with cast, moulded and applied decoration and coloured lead glazes
My favourite is on the right - but I'd not seen the smaller one (with frogs) on the left before. This is 'probably made by Palisy or follower' status
In the middle of the Galleries is a room which explains all the different techniques - including demonstrating pieces in various stages of preparation.

This was from the section devoted to painting porcelain. I loved how the artists kept their equivalent of a set of colour charts for mixes and tonal values of different colours on a plate and cup

It was something of a surprise to get to the 20th century section and find that I recognised quite a few of the items in the display cases! (I'm that old!).

If you'd like to see more of the two judges of 'Pottery Bakeoff' as I like to call it - these are their websites - worth taking a look.
  • Kate Malone's work is sensational! I think the reason I like it a lot if that she and I are visually stimulated by the same sort of natural objects
  • Keith Brymer Jones's pieces are a lot nearer to the commercial end of potting - he's the man behind all those pottery mugs and plates with one word imprinted on to them

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