Why Jingdezhen

When we mention Jingdezhen we directly think of the fine white kaolin, porcelain, and its history of making porcelain for thousands of years. But what made this porcelain city so unique of producing porcelain other than the natural sources. It is believed that owing to various historical reasons and the vigorously promoted of economy during the Yuan Dynasty (1271AD -1368AD).

After defeating the Song Dynasty, the Yuan Dynasty (Mongolia) inherited the virtuosity skills and techniques passed on from the Song which famous for producing monochrome glazes, such as celadon, crackled glaze, purple splashes glaze, and qing-bai glaze (white opaque glaze). The monochrome glazes were continue produced in the meantime copper red underglaze was developed. The people of Yuan were especially fond of qing-bai-ci, a porcelain ware usually decorated with low-relief from press mould and glazed in opaque white. The ware of this kind was highly valued since the Mongolians regarded white as pure and it was their lucky colour.

Years of war between the Mongolia and the Song Dynasty (960AD -1276AD) led to many artisans fleeing from the northern part of China to the south and many had put down their roots in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province in southern part of China. Jingdezhen has a long history of making ceramics and was named “the porcelain city” because of it produces a fine quality of kaolin, the main ingredient for producing white and translucent porcelain.

Up to Kublai Khan (1215AD – 1294AD), grandson of Genghis Khan and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, who defeated the Song Dynasty and developed the “Great Yuan” in 1272, he vigorously advocated for foreign trading and ceramics accounted for the highest profit from the commercial activities. He developed the “Fuliang Porcelain Bureau” in Jingdezhen to undertake the supervision and management of porcelain production. The extensive mining of kaolin was undertaken proceeded in Jingdezhen. The Yuan government also deployed the captured craftsmen to Jingdezhen to join in the production that led to exquisite techniques and skills from different regions that were brought to Jingdezhen. As a result, Chinese porcelain experienced a revolutionary innovation during this period and made the city a unique place for producing fine quality porcelain.

But the greatest contribution was the maturity of blue and white porcelain during the late Yuan Dynasty. It became one of the most dominant porcelain artifacts in Chinese ceramics history and is it highly acclaimed and valued not only in China but also throughout the world since it had been introduced to other nations.

Blue and white porcelain can be found as early as the Tang Dynasty (618AD – 907AD) but the use of materials and techniques for making this porcelain were not yet fully developed and tended to be coarse with very simple decoration.

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Porcelain dish with cobalt underglaze blue decoration, North China, Tang Dynasty, 9th Century

Corridor Exhibition

Doing research for the exhibition involves a certain degree of difficulty, it is supposed to be since part of the module is expecting students to call upon their skills of curation. The exhibitions I have come across have already been perfectly well-planned and designed by professional curators and designers. That provides less room for us to discuss and put in our less experienced thoughts. Due to this reason, I took examples of the ‘dry run’ corridor exhibition which was run by Natasha for the purpose of practicing.

The corridor area is not a particularly big space but good enough for three or four students to display their work. It is a very adequately sized yet little space with high ceiling and full height-glass panel running along one side of the building. That allows enough natural sunlight to come through and visually makes the space much more spacious as well as extending the potential to use it as a display window or for other purposes, which depends on the requirements of the exhibits.

The space also has no jagged area such as columns and bending corners which allows us to make use of the whole area.

The first exhibition

Place: The entrance area of CSAD main building

Date: Last year first term

Note:   Fig.1 – the first exhibition     Fig.2 – proposed idea

Artists Anne Frost Ellie Cooper Jennifer Hawthorne
Work for Exhibit
  • necklaces
  • terra cotta pieces
  • patch work
Miniature sculptures Large foot sculpture

In my opinion, the composition of exhibits in the exhibition is the relationship between size, scale and space through which to interact with the audiences and effectively guiding the audiences walk through the exhibition.

The picture [Fig.1] shown below is the overview of the first exhibition. The first impression of the general arrangement of the work in this exhibition was rather lost in focus.

I guess the intention of placing Anne and Ellie’s work on one side was related to the fact that both of their pieces of work were not large in scale. To enable to create the balance towards Jennifer’s large scale sculpture, their work was arranged on one side.

Ellie Cooper

I found that the location, placement and the plinth she used for showing her work may not be noticed by the viewers. Ellie’s miniature sculptures were arranged on a small low plinth then placed next to the entrance door. As a result of the small size of  both her pieces of work and the low plinth, this caused the issue of drawing the audience’s attention less.

A piece of red fabric was placed underneath each of her little sculptures, which I think drew audiences’ attention to the piece or may be part of the work. There was also two drawings, which I thought to reflect the narrative of her sculptures, which were placed behind her work. This I think should be arranged to reach the eye level of audiences. In addition, the drawing was stuck on the glass panel which means viewed from outside we will see two blank sheets of paper. That affects the overall aesthetic value of both her work and the exhibition.

I would suggest displaying her work by using a long tall plinth or three tall plinths which should be lower than the eye level. The plinths / plinth can be placed against the wall opposite the entrance door. I hope that it will directly attract the audiences’ attention to her work then gradually follow this arrangement to move on to the next artist’s work, Anne Frost.

Anne Frost

In this exhibition, Anne exhibited three or possibly four sets of work which were necklaces, patch work and terra cotta pieces. The three necklaces (highlighted in blue) were lined vertically on one of the glass panels. Underneath the necklaces were one or maybe two terra cotta works which were arranged next to each other. In terms of the use of materials and props of these pieces were similar but the inappropriate space left between these two sets of work, not too far or close to each other,  may have caused confusion for the audiences in terms of whether they belonged to one or two separated works. Next to the terra cotta pieces was her patch work. The general view of her works was confusing as I think she over mixed different elements in one corner.

I found that the way in which she showed her jewellery was hard to see. The background of the outside scene disturbed our vision and the glass panel is too large for such a small scale of work as small pieces in a large space will appear even smaller. I would suggest mounting the jewellery on a blank canvas or using a picture frame without a mat to highlight the pieces then hang it on the wall, as shown in my drawing below [Fig.2], next to Ellie’s pieces.

Regarding the terra cotta works which were placed underneath the jewellery. Although the use of materials and props were similar, the shapes, forms and composition of the pieces were quite different. I assumed they were two separate pieces of work. The first set of work was some small cylinder shaped terra cotta vessels which were threaded together to form a loop then placed on bricks. I think that it can remain in the same place. Since the jewellery has been removed from the wall that reduced the busyness at the spot, audiences should easily  see this piece then continue to be lead towards the next piece of work.

Another set of work from Anne was a larger scale of terra cotta floor installation which was placed next to the previous mentioned terra cotta work. I would recommend moving this larger terra cotta work to the corner of the glass panel and placing it diagonally.  It is to give an appropriated space between the two sets of work as well as carry on and continue the visual movement of the audiences from the previous work. In addition, this method takes up less actual space but still gives a good position for the audiences to perceive the objects and make the piece stand out better although this piece is not large in scale.

Regarding her patch work, I found it hard to incorporate into the exhibits. So, I made a decision to change the use of this object into a sign / entrance plaque for the exhibition.

Jennifer Hawthorne

Due to the time issues Jennie could not completely finish her sculpture but I can imagine the size of it. Allowing audiences to enjoy the whole piece of work at different angles, I think placing the piece in the corner against the wall may be not a good choice.

I would advise placing the piece right in the centre  which I think would give a sense of balance to the use of space and would give a focal point to the exhibition not only inside but also enabling it to get noticed by audiences from the outside through the large glass panel.

first exhibition
Fig.1

 

first exhibition after rearranged
Fig.2

 

Six Nature elements

“Emulsion”, a collaborative work between Amy Smith and Simon Levin. The composition of the works in this exhibition echo to each other, both in the display and in the content.

From my point of view, I felt the pieces shown in this exhibition have a strong sense of the Orient, especially Amy Smith’s bowls with stands which were much closer to the Japanese cha wan (tea bowl). The differences between Amy Smith’s bowls and the Japanese cha wan were the use of materials. Amy’s bowls were thrown by using porcelain and glazed with shinny glaze. The shininess of the glaze covered the delicate material while the throwing marks emerged on the surface suggested a sense of softness which contrasted with the Japanese cha wan which presents a natural, simple and genuine with a rustic texture. However, the stands had a strong contrast to the bowls whatever the colours or textures. The stands were made out of stoneware clay then woodfired and the stands were without the smoothness of the bowls. Trace marks were left on the stands surface during the wood firing process that echo the bowl’s throwing marks at the same time enhancing the delicateness of the bowls. These pieces can be standalone suggesting stillness while aligned on a long shelf to form a wavy movement indicated flowing water owing to the differences in height of the bowls and stands.

About Simon Levin’s work, which was placed opposite to Amy Smith’s, a sense of the Orient was also given. A lot of contrasting elements were going on this piece. First, the use of shape – a rectangular shaped tray where a round vessel was placed in the corner. The two individual objects were visually connected by a white horizontal line on one side of the tray. Secondly, the material used was similar to Smith’s, that was a round nicely thrown vessel glazed in shinny glaze. The shiny white glaze on the outside and a contrasting bright orange glaze on the inside. This white shallow dish sits steadily and calmly on the wood fired stoneware tray. Again marks were left on its surface as the fire flew around inside the kiln.

The horizontal line across the surface of the stoneware tray divided the surface into two sections which seems to suggest the horizon between the sky and earth while the white round vessel sits right on the line suggesting the sunrise or sunset.

A work of art which combined with elements of – Wood, Water, Wind, Earth, Fire and Human.

Exhibition

 

Proposal

Field Level 6 : Exhibition

Module Leaders : Claire Curneen and Natasha Mayo

Module Number : ADZ 6888

Student : Tsz Ying Fung (Florence) Ceramics Level 6

The following proposal is regarding the above-mentioned module. Preparation of this proposal is based on the current progress of my graduation work.

Due to my graduation work which is in the course of development and not yet reached a stage of completion, it may be changed later on. Though two ideas of how to exhibit my work have been generated through my research for the time being.

As mentioned in my presentation in the Formative Assessment, my work is related to heritage and innovation. In this regard, I have done research about Chinese ceramics in certain areas and in particular blue and white porcelain.

Other than my previous research on Chinese ceramics I have now started to conduct research about traditional settings on displaying porcelain work in China as well as the last centuries in Europe. Within my research area traditional skills, settings and compositions will be looked into. The reason I am conducting my research on traditional European settings is because the frequent trading activities between China and European Countries led to abundant porcelain to be imported into Europe. The intense desire of Europeans for Chinese porcelain can be seen through the ways of how they were displayed.

I hope the final work which I am going to present in May, as well as a new aesthetic reason, will also reflect the relationship of its history in which western or eastern styles or both could possibly be included.

First Idea

This idea came from the traditional style of displaying porcelain in China. Wooden stands and multi-level panels [Fig.1-2] were commonly used to display the porcelain. Vessels of different sizes with decorations will be placed on the stands and due to the different heights of the vessels which causes a wave-like effect or movement to the whole arrangement at the same time creating a unique narrative between the vessels.

I adapted this idea of using wooden stands in my work. Whereas traditionally the movement comes from the different heights of the vessels in my case I will keep the vessels a uniform height and the wooden stands will create the wave movement. [Fig.3]

A long narrow plinth is required in order to show a row of five or may be nine wooden stands which delivers a sense of movement and also enhances the contemporary look to the actual work. Regarding to the empty space between the stands suggest a missed continual lines which entirely up to the audiences’ imagination to fill in these invisible spaces. Through the viewing, I would like to visually lead the audiences along this wavy movement and at the same time for them to enjoy the pure form and the decoration of the vessels.

object_opt_1
Fig.3

Second Idea

This idea has just come up from doing my research regarding porcelain. It was mostly owned by the upper classes or royals during the 17th to 19th Centuries in Europe and was displayed in various ways. The Europeans had a very good sense of using space, such as – in hallways, on ceilings, above fire places, panelling on the walls and sometimes tailor made chambers where the porcelain was kept alongside other luxury items. The display of the porcelain usually echoed the environment of the room, such as the lighting, furniture and fixtures or to brighten up the paintings which were placed beside the porcelain, since oil paintings during that time tended to be sombre colours. Wood was also the main material used to display ceramic vessels, for example, wooden shelves, brackets, cupboards and cabinets.

The following illustration was created by Photoshop. Using this software allows me to move the objects around to a desirable position [Fig.4]. This idea imitates the composition from a display of late Ming Dynasty (China, around 1620-1644) porcelain in the dining room of a Belgian castle [Fig.5]. Decorated vessels of different sizes are placed on various sizes of brackets then mounted onto the wall.  Creating a harmonious co-existence of these groups of objects is essential.

ps_proposal_opt.1
Fig.4
ming vase mounted on wall
Fig.5

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