A very special arrangement for us in this afternoon was to visit “the secret backyard” of the National Museum of Cardiff. Mr. Andrew Renton, Head of Applied Art of the Museum, gave us a precious lesson. Mr Renton not only showed us some of the Mueseum valuable collection while he explaining the history and making techinques of the pieces and also we have an opportunity to have a real contact with all the objects.
In around 1790s after Napoleon successfully invaded Egypt. Egypt’s culture was brought to Europe and the European was fascinated by the Egyptian styles. This vessel was made by a local pottery, the Cambrian Pottery in Swansea. It was made around 1805 for pastille burner. Cobalt oxide was used as the under glaze and it is believed that the piece was originally covered with luster but unfortunately it was disappeared over time.
This vessel was made by Hans Coper, one of the leading potters in the 20th century. Coper’s work was inspired by the pottery of the ancient world. This vessel was a throwing piece and made in different sections then put together. A disk element is used to level the rim to give more volume to the whole piece. Vitreous slip and manganese oxide are used to decorate this vessel. I really like this piece, the manganese glaze has shown dimly behind the white vitreous slip. The dry glaze and deliberately made scratch marks create a ageing and metal like surface.
An ancient pottery “lekythos” was made around 450BC – 500B in Athens of Greece. The lekythos was specially made for storing oil, mostly essence oil. It was very often used in funerary or pouring oil as a gift for the gods. In the ancient time essence oil was very expensive therefore the neck of this kind of vessels were intended to be narrow so that to have a better control of the oil flow out. The piece was well preserved and undamaged. It was simply decorated by pale brown slip with black lines pattern and black terra sigillata at the bottom. In addition, it was throwing in different sections then combined together which is quite similar to Hans Coper’s work.
I was impressed by this ancient Greek lekythos. The technique we are using now was being used since 2500 years ago. The only difference is we have advance technology and materials, compare with the ancient world’s craftsmen creation were all by hand-power.
Another valuable object is a 1662 -1722 made Qing Dynasty porcelain plate. It is known as delftware in the West. Chinese porcelain is made from two things china clay and china stone which can produce delicate and very white and durable objects and could be translucent if it is thin enough. At the time, many pottery factories in Europe tried to imitate Chinese’s porcelain. In around 18th century bone china was created, by using china clay and bone ash (animal bones usually ox bones). These materials can create durable objects and gives whiteness to the vessels.