This page contains a selection
of craft-related objects in the
'Cast, polished and glued glass'
'Clear and coloured glass, hand-blown cane-work, and wheel-cut (battuto technique)'
Height 78.5 cm x width 30 cm
'Lino Tagliapietra was born in Murano, an island in the Venetian lagoon, Italy, in 1934. He trained at the glassworks of Archimede Seguso and achieved the status of glass Maestro (master) by the early age of 22. In 1979 Benjamin Moore invited him to teach at the celebrated Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State in the USA. Since then Tagliapietra has made Seattle his second home. He has taught at Pilchuck and around the world. Many makers, including Dale Chihuly and Dante Marioni, acknowledge him as their master and role model. His skills are phenomenal, and he has shared them with generations of students. Bilbao shows him at his best, combining panels of different stripes (canes) with clear and plain glass.'
'Stoneware, with copper green glaze'
Height 56.2 cm x width 40.3 cm (with handle) x depth 23.3 cm (at base)
'This powerfully sculpted, bucket-shaped vessel by Takauchi Shugo (born 1937) is an example of contemporary work inspired by Oribe wares, an important variety of ceramics produced at the Mino kilns near Nagoya in central Japan during the Momoyama period (1568-1615). Takauchi lives and works in Mashiko, the pottery centre in Tochigi Prefecture to the north-east of Tokyo made famous by Hamada Shoji. Takauchi`s exploration of the Oribe aesthetic is a relatively rare instance of a contemporary artist from one region working in a style closely associated with another. The recent emergence of figures like Takauchi who ignore the barriers of regionalism is a reversion to the pattern found in the early days of Japanese studio ceramics in the first half of the 20th century.'
Lytton Strachey in Repose
Length 30.5 cm
The soft white surface of tin-glazed earthenware has long proved ideal for spirited painting. Here Duncan Grant (1885-1978) has grossly exaggerated the size of the tweed-clad legs of the languid Lytton Strachey in order to fill two square tiles exactly.
'Stoneware, with natural ash glaze'
Height 24.8 cm x diameter 12.8 cm (at base)
'This tea ceremony flower vase by Yamamoto Toshu (1906-1993) is a classic example of a piece of modern Bizen ware closely fashioned after examples of Bizen ceramics of the Momoyama period (1568-1615). The form is heavily sculpted, and the clay surface, which bears deposits of ash from the wood used to fuel the kiln in which the vase was fired, is dramatically scorched. Yamamoto was appointed a Living National Treasure (Important Intangible Cultural Property) in 1987 under the system established by the Japanese government in the mid-1950s.'
'Crêpe silk, with stencilled decoration'
Length 169 cm x width 131 cm
FE.10:1 to 30-1995
'The dazzling design of this kimono was created using the stencil-resist dyeing, or katazome, technique. Matsubara Yoshichi, the creator of this kimono, has developed a very individual method of working in which stencils of the same shape, but of diminishing size, are used in succession. Rice paste is applied through the largest stencil on to the fabric, which is then dipped in the indigo dye bath. The colour does not penetrate the area covered by the paste. The fabric dries, the paste is washed off and the whole process is repeated with the next stencil. Twenty-nine such stencils were used to create this particular design.'
'Earthenware, dust-pressed, with silk-screen printed decoration'
Width 15 cm approx.
'Also known as a studio potter, Ann Wynn Reeves has worked as a tile designer alongside her husband Kenneth Clark at their potteries in London and Sussex.'
Height 74.5 cm x width 50 cm x depth 55 cm
'This chair has been made out of high density polyethylene packaging discarded as rubbish and recycled. You can clearly see the cleaning product bottles and plastic containers that have been partially melted down and put to another use after their expected lifetime. Product packaging, such as the bottles used in this chair, make up 35 per cent of the plastic consumption in this country. Plastics are usually non-biodegradable and therefore pose environmental problems. Although there has been an increase in the number of recycling schemes across the country, land-fill sites are still the most popular form of waste management for most local councils, although sites for such dumping are rapidly being exhausted. It is thought that only 7 per cent of plastics are currently recycled. This chair was commissioned by the Furniture & Woodwork department here at the V&A and made up from plastic items donated by staff.'
Height 25.5 cm
Many different effects can be achieved through the use of clay slips and variations in the salting process. It is now possible to control and predict these. The glazing of Walter Keeler`s pots perfectly harmonises with the precision of their forms.
Stoneware with brown and grey underlay
Height 32.0 cm x width 24.0 cm
'Born in Kwali, a northern Nigerian town of the Gwari Yamma people, Ladi Kwali gained international celebrity as a potter in the late 1950s. Like most women in the region, she learned to make traditional coiled pottery at an early age. Her work was much admired by the British potter Michael Cardew, and he invited her to work with him at the government-funded Pottery Training Centre in nearby Abuja. This she did from 1954. Her international reputation followed exhibitions and demonstrations in Britain, Germany, the USA and Canada from 1958 onwards. This pot was made in Abuja around 1957. Though its decoration and coiled construction derive from traditional Nigerian pottery, its stoneware body and glazed surface are the result of Cardew`s influence. It was purchased by the Museum from the first exhibition of her work in London, which was held at the Berkeley Galleries in 1958.'
'Plain-weave silk, with paste-resist decoration (yuzen)'
Length 169 cm x width 131 cm
'Like many of his contemporaries, Moriguchi Kunihiko uses traditional techniques to create striking, modern designs. He learned the skills of yuzen dyeing from his father, Moriguchi Kako, who is also a famous textile artist. In yuzen a cloth tube fitted with a metal tip is used to apply a thin ribbon of rice paste to the outlines of a drawing on the fabric. Dyes of various colours are brushed within the paste boundaries, which prevent bleeding of one colour into another. Moriguchi Kunihiko`s designs are inspired by the natural world, but are based on a process of abstraction which involves taking one stylized motif and subjecting it to a series of mathematically determined transformations.'
'Steel, copper and glass, cast and hand-finished'
'Mark-Brazier Jones was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1956 and emigrated to England in the mid 1960s. Along with British designer, Tom Dixon, Brazier-Jones formed the group ‘Creative Salvage’ in the 1980s, recycling materials to create new pieces of furniture.
Designed in 1986, this sconce has been in constant production ever since. This example was made in 2001. It is made of cast, moulded and hand-finished components. The laurel leaf motif is typical of the designer’s work, in its reference to ancient civilizations. Brazier-Jones also likes to experiment with light and here employs glass spheres and domed lenses to create different moods through colour and distortion.'
'Welded steel frame, with rush upholstery'
'In 1985 Tom Dixon joined designers Nick Jones and Mark Brazier-Jones to form Creative Salvage, a group dedicated to producing furniture and decorative objects made from scrap metals. Their work with recycled materials was very influential on a generation of designer-makers. Dixon`s favourite technique in the 1980s was welding and the frame of this chair is welded steel while the upholstery is made from rush. The rushwork here was done by a British basket-making firm. At this point in his career, Dixon did not use drawings, building the chair and altering and changing the design as it was developed in his studio. The name of the chair is a reference to its sinuous shape which is like the letter `S`.
The frame of this chair was the original pattern for about 60 chairs made in Dixon`s London workshop in the late 1980s. Subsequently, production was taken over by the Italian manufacturer Cappellini which introduced many variants of the S Chair.'
'Porcelain, thrown and glazed'
Height 56.5 cm x diameter 26 cm
Column of drawers
'Birch plywood, acrylic and stainless steel'
Height 130 cm x width 50 cm x depth 50 cm
'The ‘column of drawers’ is a free-standing storage unit. It consists of a stack of drawers that pivot from a central steel spine, which runs through the whole unit. Each drawer is made from thin and narrow veneers, which are bent and stacked on a coloured acrylic (plastic) drawer bottom. The acrylic contrasts with the natural colour of the wood and creates dashes of bright colour when the drawers are opened. Although the materials used are not particularly rare or valuable, each element of the unit was carefully chosen. The painstaking task of working it by hand into this novel form took many hours. John Makepeace (born 1939), who designed this column of drawers, started to produce expensive luxury furniture in the 1960s. The pieces were handmade and specially commissioned. The V&A purchased the column of drawers in 1978, at a time when John Makepeace was selling pieces to British museums. He was then celebrated as the leading British designer of craft furniture. Although identified as a furniture maker, Makepeace gave up working at the bench relatively early in his career in order to concentrate on design. Members of his studio probably made this column of drawers at Parnham House in Dorset, where he runs a furniture-making school.'
Plain-weave tsumugi silk
Length 167.5 cm x width 138 cm
'Shimura Fukumi, the designer of this kimono, weaves with tsumugi, a type of silk drawn from wild cocoons or the spoiled leftovers of cultivated silk production. Apart from indigo, which she obtains from a specialist supplier, Shimura makes all her dyes from plants grown in her own garden. This kimono is woven with yarns of indigo blue, yellow derived from eulalia, brown from onion skins and green produced by dyeing with eulalia over indigo. The name of the kimono, ‘Ise’, is inspired by the 10th century Tales of Ise, one of the most famous works of Japanese literature. In 1990 Shimura was awarded the title of Living National Treasure, Japan`s highest accolade for those working in the field of traditional crafts.'
Purple glass with silver and gold leaf and splashes of red and white glass
Height 25 cm
'This pickle jar was made in Rongchang, a city in south-western China`s Sichuan province, in 1965. The body was made of stoneware covered with a coat of ochre slip, cut and incised to form a decoration of floral scrolling and peonies; it was then glazed with the exception of the interior, the lid and the underside of the cover.
The jar shows an important aesthetic orientation in modern Chinese design: the search for an `authentic` decorative language derived from the folk-life of the `masses` rather than the tastes of the imperial court or the scholar bureaucrats. This type of Sichuan ceramic ware can be considered one of the most successful attempts to create a traditional style.'
'Triple-weave silk, polyamide and polyurethane'
Length 195 cm x width 32 cm
Miyamoto Eiji works both independently and in collaboration with leading designers such as Issey Miyake. ‘Seaweed Scarf’ is made of triple weave fabric. The inner layer has an elastic weft that catches the sheer fabric of the outer layers at intervals to create the pleats and shirring. The dramatically textured surface and evocative colours give the impression of seaweed undulating in water.
Vase with stand
Wood; Lacquer on a fabric core
Height 46 cm
'This baluster vase is an exquisite example of the ‘bodiless’ lacquer technique particularly associated with southern China`s Fujian province. The lacquer was applied to a fabric core and then painted. Its decoration depicts a sunrise over the sea, a popular scene in the iconography adopted at the rise of the Chinese Communist Party`s power in 1949. Despite the imagery`s associations, this object was produced in a privately owned factory before the collectivization of craft production was introduced in the 1950s.'
Jar and cover
'Stoneware, with crackled celadon glaze'
Height 18.3 cm
Height 24.8 cm
Red and black lacquer on a wood core
Width 25.5 cm
'This lacquer dish dates from the period of the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976). It was made in Sichuan, a province famous in the 1960s for producing a particular style of woodblock print in the style of romantic Socialist Realism. The image on the dish, in both its subject-matter and the flat style of relief, alludes to this genre, and indicates that it may originally have been produced in graphic form. It depicts the People`s Liberation Army fighter, Cai Yongxiang, who was raised to hero status when he lost his life saving a train of Red Guards by removing an obstacle from the track.'
Eight layers of carved black and red lacquer on a wood core
Diameter 35 cm
'This modern dish displays a lacquer technique that is centuries old: alternate layers of red and black lacquer are slowly built up on a wood core, and then carved through to reveal a design of hills, water and a half-moon, all done in a stylised, simple graphic style that is quite daring in Chinese terms. It is possible that this piece was executed either by Qiao Shiguang, a leading lacquer artist from Xinjiang, or by one of his students.'
'Lacquered wood, inlaid with crushed eggshell'
Height 43 cm
'Shen Fuwen, a native of Fuzhou, is the leading figure in 20th-century Chinese lacquer. In 1935 he studied lacquering under Matsuda Gonroku (1896-1986) in Tokyo, and he shows use of typical Gonroku techniques in his art, most notably crushed eggshell. This vase, a pre-liberation piece, reveals Shen`s attempts to revitalise 20th-century Chinese decoration by moving beyond the Ming⁄Qing repertory to the motifs and techniques of earlier dynasties. The olive and brown streaks on the body of the vase recall the streaked glazes of Tang earthenware, a possible source of inspiration.'
'The artist Cho Young Kook successfully combines traditional Korean ceramic traditions with a modern individual style. In this sculpture the artist has covered the stoneware form in white slip and a transparent glaze which has crackled during firing. After firing black ink was brushed over the entire surface and then washed off, leaving ink residue in the cracks in the glaze. Cho Young Kook`s sculpture can be compared to the celadon wares of the Koryo dynasty (AD 918-1392), which in part are characterised by their splendid crackled glazes.'
'High-fired earthenware, opacified glaze with blue and red mottling'
'During the 1890s Reginald Wells trained as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art, and later studied ceramics at Camberwell School of Art (both in London). Around 1900 he set up his own pottery at Coldrum, near Wrotham in Kent, before later moving it to London. Wells was one of the first true studio potters (i.e., a non-factory potter), working on an entirely independent basis. His interests lay in exactly those areas that were to preoccupy studio potters in later decades, namely English slipwares and Chinese stonewares. Wells`s work has a somewhat amateur and experimental look when compared to that of the next generation (B. J. Leach, Michael Cardew, William Staite Murray) who were to follow in his path.'
Myriad Green Leaves
'Figured silk, with tie-dyeing (shibori) and hand-painted decoration'
Length 161 cm x width 121 cm
'The lyrical design of this kimono was created using a complicated and time-consuming process. Various areas of the cloth were protected by being stitched around, gathered up, wrapped in plastic and then tightly bound with thread before each dye was applied. Chinese ink, called sumi, was then used to paint in the flower petals and veins of the brown leaves and to accentuate other parts of the design. Furusawa derives her inspiration from tsujigahana, a Japanese textile form that was highly popular between the 14th and early 17th century.'
Jug and Mug
'Charles Vyse occupies an important position in the history of British studio pottery as one of the pioneers experimenting with high-fired stonewares based on medieval Chinese prototypes. His work in this manner is technically highly accomplished, although his shapes and decoration look somewhat timid and over-refined when compared to wares by some of his contemporaries, such as Bernard Leach, William Staite Murray, Norah Braden or Katherine Pledell-Bouverie. Perhaps more artistically successful were his stonewares brush-decorated in a non-Chinese style, such as this jug.'
'Porcelain, hand-built, with grey-brown glaze'
Depth 18.40 cm x height 15.00 cm
'Peter Simpson`s early work, such as this example, is inspired by organic forms: pomegranates, mushrooms, poppy seedpods and more enigmatic, less easily identifiable items.'
'Earthenware, unglazed burnished surface, reduced black in the firing'
Depth 23.80 cm x height 28.60 cm
'Magdalene Odundo produces exceptionally finely made pottery, often with complex sculptural characteristics. Born in Nairobi in Kenya, Odundo travelled to Britain in 1971 to train as a graphic artist. However, two years later she turned her attention to ceramics. Since then she has developed an individual and highly expressive artistic language. This is underpinned by her conscious use of traditional African techniques and forms.'
'Japanese oak frame, back filled with oat straw, and seat upholstered in sea-grass'
Height 106.2 cm x width 63.2 cm x depth 48 cm
'This chair is a traditional type that has been made in the Orkney Islands since the early 1700s. (The Orkneys lie off the north-east coast of Scotland.) During the 1900s there was a revival of the craft of making such chairs. The tall backs were made of oat straw or bent grass, bound together in small bundles and attached to the wooden frame. Often the back was finished with a semi-circular hood. Such ‘heided stüls’, as Orkney islanders called them, gave even more protection from draughts. Orkney was not the only place where straw was used for furniture. The tradition of ‘lip-work’ continued well into the 1900s in south Wales, the Welsh borders and Gloucestershire.'
Stoneware with speckled yellowish glazed interior and grey glazed exterior
Depth 44.00 cm x height 26.50 cm
'Heber Mathews studied pottery under William Staite Murray at the Royal College of Art in London during the late 1920s. Following Mathews`s death in 1959, Staite Murray wrote that he had been one of the ‘few students who sensed the inner meaning of potting’, someone who saw that pots, ‘when infused with vitality could be an articulating art’.'
Steel rod with rush upholstery
'Tom Dixon emerged as one of Britain`s most innovative designers through his work in the eighties with Creative Salvage, a group dedicated to producing furniture and decorative objects made from scrap metal.
His London workshop produced limited editions of furniture, while some of his designs were produced commercially by the Italian manufacturer Cappellini. This chair was bought by the V&A as an example of Dixon`s furniture in mass production, as opposed to the hand finished products from his own workshop (see W.6-1993). In 1998 Dixon was appointed Head of Design at Habitat, the furniture store chain started by Terence Conran in 1964.
Dixon had no formal training except lessons in welding. Hand crafting furniture from welded steel was central to Tom Dixon`s work. This chair was originally designed as part of a small, made to order series. Working alongside the manufacturer, Dixon adapted this design for a wider market.
The hand-made ethos of Dixon`s furniture remains in the continued use of rush upholstery. On this model, the rush work is produced by machine, rather than by hand as can be seen on his ‘S-Chair’.'
Standing Bottle with Sternum
'Stoneware, hand-built, with matt black glaze'
Depth 16.80 cm x height 30.70 cm
'This pot is from a series of bottle forms made by Donald Locke in either low-fired smoked earthenware or high-fired stoneware with a matt black glaze. These works were essentially biomorphic in character. As its title suggests, the bottle is reminiscent of the chest of an animal, its central ridge taking the place of the sternum (or breast-bone). Locke was born in Guyana in South America. He trained at Bath and Edinburgh, and later became resident in the UK, between 1971 and 1980. As well as ceramics, Locke also made mixed-media sculptures.'
'Stainless steel, beaten and welded'
Height 75 cm x width 59 cm x depth 72 cm
'Designer-makers' working in metal made their mark in British design in the 1980s. While it was not unusual for hand-crafted wooden furniture to be made in limited editions, much metal furniture was designed to be mass-produced mechanically for use in offices and institutions.
Ron Arad has produced welded metal furniture since the early 1980s, often from salvaged materials. His sculptural furniture is not intended for the mass market. His designs are made in limited editions with pieces named and priced like works of art. The ‘Little Heavy’ chair is one of an edition of 20. Ten, like this example, were made in highly reflective stainless steel, and ten in a dark matt-finish mild steel. The metalworker has created a deliberately imperfect and unfinished appearance by using a rubber hammer to beat the chair`s seat and back from sheet steel.'
'Stoneware, with painted decoration in brown in a grey glaze'
Depth 22.30 cm x height 11.30 cm
'Henry Hammond studied at the Royal College of Art in London from 1934 to 1938, where he was a student of William Staite Murray. Like Staite Murray, Hammond adopted a painterly approach to surface decoration, which he applied to stoneware pots. After the end of the Second World War he made slipware exclusively for a several years, but returned to the production of stoneware in the 1950s.'
'Earthenware, unglazed burnished clay, incised decoration'
Depth 20.50 cm x height 22.40 cm
'The work of Siddig El Nigoumi is infused with African, Arabic and British influences. Born in The Sudan in 1931, Siddig followed a two-year period as a calligrapher by enrolling at the School of Art in Khartoum. It was there that he began to specialise in pottery. In 1957 he travelled to London to study ceramics at the Central School of Art. In 1967 he settled permanently in England. Siddig popularised the use of traditional African pottery techniques within British studio ceramics. His pots were handbuilt, their surfaces burnished by polishing with a stone or similar tool, and left unglazed. This vessel was purchased from an exhibition of jugs organised by the Craftsmen Potters Association (now the Craft Potters Association) in 1980. `Ibreeq` is an Arabic word for jug.'
'Butter Dish, Mug and Jug'
'After studying textiles design at the Royal College of Art in London, Marianne de Trey married the potter Sam Haile, from whom she learned to make pottery. The two took over the Shinner`s Bridge Pottery at Dartington in Devon, southwest England, in 1947. The following year Haile died in a car accident, leaving de Trey to continue alone. Her earlier productions were domestic wares, either in slip-decorated or tin-glazed earthenware. These were produced in a production pottery that employed several people and established a regular apprentice scheme.'
Grey of Dawn
'Crêpe silk, with paste-resist decoration (yuzen)'
Length 167 cm x width 128 cm
'Like many of his contemporaries, Moriguchi Kunihiko uses traditional techniques to create striking, modern designs. He learned the skills of yuzen dyeing from his father, Moriguchi Kako, who is also a famous textile artist. In yuzen a cloth tube fitted with a metal tip is used to apply a thin ribbon of rice paste to the outlines of a drawing on the fabric. Dyes of various colours are brushed within the paste boundaries, which prevent bleeding of one colour into another. An additional technique unique to the Moriguchis, and used to great effect on this kimono, is the sprinkling on of small particles of rice paste prior to and between applications of the background colours. This process, known as makinori, creates a mottled effect.'
'Stoneware, with black matt glaze'
Depth 8.10 cm x height 27.50 cm
'Hans Coper was one of the most celebrated ceramicists working in Britain in the 20th century. He revolutionised studio pottery through his inventive forms. This pot is a hollow vessel constructed from thrown sections. The shape is unlike Coper`s earlier work. It reflects both his study of ancient Cycladic art (about 3500-1050 BC) and his interest in modernist sculpture, such as the work of the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi.'
'Stoneware, with white and black matt glazes'
Depth 14.90 cm x height 19.20 cm
'Hans Coper was one of the most celebrated ceramicists working in Britain in the 20th century. He revolutionised studio pottery through his inventive use of form. This vessel was included in an exhibition held in 1969 at the V&A, where Coper`s work was shown alongside that of the weaver, Peter Collingwood. Coper made all the pots for the exhibition at his new studio in Frome, Somerset, during the 12 months before the show opened in January 1969.'
'Stoneware, with `finger-wiped` decoration in a milky glaze over black slip'
Depth 39.80 cm x height 5.50 cm
'This dish was made by Michael Cardew at the Abuja Pottery in Nigeria. Cardew had been employed by the colonial government in order to explore ways of improving the quality of locally produced pottery. However, Cardew himself believed that the traditional pottery had achieved a refined state of beauty, was well-suited to local needs, and could not be improved on. Instead, he proposed the foundation of a centre where potters could be trained to produce glazed wares to supply the demands of the new middle class, and helped to establish small local potteries for this purpose. In practice, this scheme was not entirely successful, and over time the emphasis shifted to the production of high-quality wares for the local and developing overseas market, made at Abuja by a core group of the most successful trainees. This jar was bought from an exhibition of Abuja pottery held at the Berkeley Galleries in London in 1958.'
'Earthenware, with `wiped` decoration in dark over light slip under an amber glaze'
Depth 15.30 cm x height 28.00 cm
'Paul Barron was a colleague and friend of the more widely known potter Henry Hammond. He is best remembered for his role as a teacher at West Surrey College of Art and Design, Farnham, Hampshire. Like many potters of his generation, Barron was interested in traditional English pottery forms and techniques. This slipware jug is a fine example, with its satisfyingly simple and elegant form and unfussy decoration. The decorative effect is achieved by ‘wiping’ slip (liquid clay) with a finger.'
'Earthenware, hand-built, with a black shiny glaze'
Depth 60.30 cm x height 64.30 cm
'Gordon Baldwin is one of the major figures of late 20th-century ceramics. He has also been an influential teacher, both at Eton College, where he taught pottery and sculpture, and as a lecturer at Camberwell and the Central School of Art (both in London). His early works were a pure exploration of abstract sculptural form, and would typically be finished with shiny dark glazes, as is the case here. From the 1970s, however, Baldwin has shown an increasing interest in ceramic vessel forms, and the interplay between shape and painted surface.'
Bowl and Pot
'Stoneware, coil built, with thick pitted grey glaze'
'Dan Arbeid is an important pioneer of post-war British ceramics. He explored handbuilding techniques and surface textures in a style that strongly opposed the East Asian forms and glazes used by Bernard Leach and his followers. In the 1960s Arbeid was making daring new pots, experimenting with imaginative and inventive forms and extremes of texture. He later worked primarily as a teacher. Arbeid built up this bowl from coils of clay, which can be clearly seen in the finished pot.'
Porcelain with decoration in underglaze blue and overglaze enamels
Diameter 41.2 cm
'This large octagonal dish with stylised chrysanthemum design was made by Imaizumi Imaemon XIII. He was from an important family of ceramic decorators who, during the Edo period (1615-1868), had been employed as official decorators by the Nabeshima clan of southern Japan. Early Nabeshima wares are characterized by an extremely high standard of both potting and decoration. Because they were reserved for private use, they were virtually unknown in the West before the late 19th century. The maker of this dish may be credited with the introduction of artistic and technical innovations that took the Nabeshima tradition forward into the late 20th century. The piece combines classical Nabeshima features, such as the precise shading of the underglaze blue and the particular hue of the turquoise enamel, with a shape and patterning whose geometric formality has been inspired by Islamic models.'
Stencil-resist-dyeing on cream silk; brown silk ground; wooden frame with metal corner reinforcements; backed with hand-made paper
Height 81.5 cm x width 214.0 cm
'This six-panel screen depicts stages in the manufacture of traditional Japanese paper at the village of Ogawa in Saitama Prefecture, where Serizawa taught in the mid-1930s. The six stages shown are: boiling the branches of the paper mulberry tree; washing the boiled mulberry fibres in running water; softening the fibres by beating them with mallets; moulding the paper in a frame; removing excess water in a press; and drying the sheets of paper on boards in the sun. Handmade paper created in this way is used to back the screen.
Serizawa was one of Japan's foremost textile artists. He became an active member of the Japanese Folk Craft (Mingei) Movement after meeting its founder, Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961), in 1927. He decided to become a textile artist after seeing a group of wrapping cloths from Okinawa at an exhibition in Tokyo the following year. These cloths had been dyed by the bingata method, historically practised in Okinawa using stencil resist and bright mineral pigments. Although Serizawa did not travel to Okinawa until 1939, the vibrant colours and bold designs of bingata textiles inspired his work from the outset.'
Porcelain with celadon glaze
Height 20.0 cm x width 15.7 cm x diameter 29.1 cm
'This bowl represents the modern aspect of the long-standing interest of the Japanese in Chinese ceramics. Its maker is the third generation of a distinguished family of potters who live and work near Tokyo and have long been known for their ceramics in Chinese styles. Since the early 1970s Shinobu has specialised in celadon wares, which have a green, blue or grey-green glaze. This is achieved by firing a glaze mixture containing a small proportion of iron oxide in a reducing atmosphere - one in which the kiln is starved of oxygen so that the burning fuel draws chemically bonded oxygen from the reactive parts of the ceramic material, leaving them in a reduced state and changing their colour. Shinobu draws much of his inspiration from Chinese Southern Song dynasty (1128-1279) celadons of the type traditionally admired in Japan. This bowl reflects the potter's departure from small and rather delicate shapes into larger and bolder forms. He has purposely used a smooth rather than a crackled glaze to add tension to a highly wrought shape, which draws its principal effect from two small cusps to the thin everted rim.'
Stoneware with underglaze iron painting over rope-impressed and slip-filled ground
Diameter 57.4 cm
'This large dish demonstrates to good effect the remarkable skill in rope-impressed decoration that Shimaoka has developed over the years. He has combined three different kinds of patterning with the use of white slip - which fills the rope indentations - and boldly calligraphic underglaze iron painting. As the leading student of Hamada Shoji (1894-1978), Shimaoka is widely regarded as Japan`s foremost potter of the Folk Craft (Mingei) Movement. His fascination with rope-impressed decoration is partly due to the fact that his father was a rope-maker. It can also be explained by the proximity to Mashiko, where he lives and works, of numerous archaeological sites dating from the Jomon period (10,500-300 BC), where earthenwares decorated with a rich variety of rope-impressed designs have been found.'
'Tin-glazed earthenware, painted'
Height 46 cm x Length 46 cm
'Vanessa Bell first became involved with the decoration of ceramics while at the Omega workshops (1913-1919). This was a pioneering enterprise that made and sold a variety of domestic items conceived and decorated in a modern style by young artists. The scene on this later panel is influenced by Continental art, and reminiscent of the work of Matisse.'
Overlay with coloured inclusions
Height 24.4 cm x width 17.0 cm
This piece appeared in the exhibition of Dominick Labino`s work at the V&A in 1974-1975. From the 1940s Dominick Labino (1910-1987) built small furnaces and experimented with glassblowing. From 1962 he began blowing his own glass and in 1965 he devoted himself full-time to his own work. He owned over 60 patents and invented many devices for the effective use of materials and fuel. Labino provided invaluable technical advice to the emerging studio-glass movement in America.
Monte Alban II
'Bone china, made from cast elements'
Depth 43.50 cm x height 33.40 cm
C.115 to D-1979
'Glenys Barton is one of a remarkable group of women ceramicists who emerged from the Royal College of Art in London during the 1970s. The group includes Jill Crowley, Alison Britton, Jacqui Poncelet, Carol McNicoll and Elizabeth Fritsch. Barton is the most purely sculptural of any in this group, and was among the first potters of her generation to be solely represented by a `fine art` gallery.'
'Bone china, slip-cast, with silk-screened decoration'
Depth 5.30 cm x height 5.30 cm
CIRC.277 to C-1973
'Glenys Barton is one of a remarkable group of women ceramicists who emerged from the Royal College of Art in London during the 1970s. The group includes Jill Crowley, Alison Britton, Jacqui Poncelet, Carol McNicoll and Elizabeth Fritsch. Barton is the most purely sculptural of any in this group, and was among the first potters of her generation to be solely represented by a ‘fine art’ gallery. These cubes, which were made in sets of four, were exhibited in the International Ceramics exhibition in 1972 at the V&A, and were awarded a Diploma of Merit by the International Jury. They are cast in bone china (porcelain with added bone ash) and are ground to the required degree of accuracy after the biscuit (initial) firing.'
Set of three bowls
'Stoneware, with cut decoration through an oatmeal glaze'
Depth 12.60 cm x height 9.90 cm
CIRC.255 to B-1961
'After studying textiles design at the Royal College of Art in London, Marianne de Trey married the potter Sam Haile, from whom she learned to make pottery. The two took over the Shinner`s Bridge Pottery at Dartington in Devon, southwest England, in 1947. The following year Haile died in a car accident, leaving de Trey to continue alone. Her earlier productions were domestic wares, either in slip-decorated or tin-glazed earthenware. These were produced in a production pottery that employed several people and established a regular apprentice scheme. Stoneware was produced at the pottery from the mid-1950s.'
'Engraved optical glass, wood and velvet'
Height 25 cm x width 36 cm x depth 4.5 cm
C.335:1 to 6-1993
'Triptych explores the iconography of the icon. The three sections represent Man, Woman and Child as Past, Present and Future. Man, the Past, is attempting to free himself, but his feet are caught in the Web of Time. Woman, the Present, is shown as a shell within a shell, as flawed Venus (the classical goddess of love) and flawless Virgin. The future is the Bird Child, a symbol of the young soul, bearing the burden of the untouched future. Kinnaird uses her very personal interests in family, the natural world and Celtic and classical imagery in this complex work.'
A Moment in Time
'Vertical strips of starphire plate glass, and `prisms` of dichroic-coated glass, set into a slotted steel base plate covered with a slotted polished aluminium finishing plate'
Height 3 m
C.112:1 to 22-1998
'Peter Aldridge works with light in much the same way that a musician works with sound. He has said:
‘The underlying mathematical progression of individual notes, the multiplicity of overlaying rhythms, tonal range and chromatic intervals all have their parallels when composing with light.
The objects I make have an inherent mathematical progression, just as a musical instrument has proportion in its fingerboard and precision in its construction, both critical to the sound it produces.’'
Deep Blue and Bronze Gold Persian Set; Persians
'Glass, with threading and twisted canes (filigree of various types), blown into an optic mould, free-blown and hand-worked'
Width 89 cm
C.108:1 to 8-2001
'The Persians series evolved from the Seaforms series in 1985, when the glassblower Martin Blanwith carried out experimental sessions under Dale Chihuly's direction. The first examples were reminiscent of the tiny core-formed bottles of ancient Egypt and Persia. The series then developed into a range of widely differing shapes. The outer container forms were often of enormous size.
These pieces are each decorated with lines of thin, trailed glass. The piece was then blown into a ribbed mould leaving the ‘spines’ of thicker glass and then fully blown to shape. The outer form was spun out into a huge disk before finally being shaped by gravity and manipulated by hand.'
Jug and two beakers
'Stoneware, with white and black glazes'
Depth 27.30 cm x height 26.50 cm
C.57 to B-1982
'Lucie Rie and Hans Coper collaborated on this set of jug and beakers. They made them during the period that Rie shared her London studio with Coper. Coper had no previous experience of making pots when he joined the workshop in 1946. However, he was naturally talented and soon shared the Albion Street studio on an equal footing. This set has the impressed seal marks of both potters. Rie designed the pieces, but Coper apparently glazed them, as Rie has stated that she would have applied a narrower band of cream glaze.'