Ceramics - Episode One: A Fragile History

Lydia Dwight resurrected, John Dwight, 1674. Museum no. 1054-1871. © V&A Images

Lydia Dwight resurrected, John Dwight, 1674. Museum no. 1054-1871. © V&A Images

First broadcast: BBC Four 10 October 2011

Ceramics are some of the most beautiful and treasured objects taking pride of place in British palaces, churches, stately houses and even family homes. Whether for celebrating birth, marriage and death, eating and drinking, or showing social status, ceramics reveal much about our taste and habits as a nation. They become, in effect, snapshots in clay.

This first programme in the opening series looks at the history of domestic pottery in Britain from the Tudor period onwards. It traces the evolution of different techniques and styles involved in the art of pottery and examining in intimate detail what British pots can tell us about how generations before us lived and how they saw themselves.

Examining key figures, including 17th-century potters John Dwight and Thomas Toft as well as contemporary traditional potters such as Mary Wondrausch, and drawing on the expertise and comments of contributors including, David Attenborough, Edmund de Waal and Grayson Perry, this programme celebrates one of our oldest and most fundamental art forms.

For more information visit the BBC Four website

Click on a selection of objects featured in the programme to view more details

Dish, unknown maker, around 1657-1685. Museum no. 3868-1901
The Mermaid dish, Thomas Toft, 1670-1689. Museum no. 299-1869
Dish, unknown maker, 1697. Museum no. 3875-1901
Model cradle, unknown maker, 1700-1710. Museum no. C.305-1921
Dish, Thomas Toft, around 1680. Museum no. 471-1882
Posset pot, Robert Pool, around 1710. Museum no. C.24-1949
Jug, unknown maker, about 1500. Museum no. C.228-1939
Tyg, John Livermore, 1649. Museum no. C.118-1938

Handmade in Britain - a BBC & V&A partnership

Strawberry Thief Free iPad Game

Strawberry Thief by BAFTA award wining games designer Sophia George is a playful celebration of the work of Victorian designer William Morris. Uncover the famous Arts and Crafts design by drawing on your screen with your finger and watch your iPad transform from blank paper to an animated masterpiece.

Download now

Event - Gallery Talk Pursuit of Antiquity: Some highlights of Chinese ceramics in the Tsui Gallery

Thu 05 February 2015 13:00–14:00

GALLERY TALK: Find out more about some treasured pieces of imperial ceramics on display in the Tsui Gallery and why emperors in the eighteenth century were keen to collect wares made in an antique style.

Book online