Making London Porcelain

Investigating London’s first porcelain makers at Bow and Chelsea Factories

About the Project

With the Ashmolean Museum and Newham Borough of London, the V&A is investigating London’s first porcelain manufacturers in Bow and Chelsea. Our scientific analysis will inform activities with local sixth-form students and provide inspiration for the next generation of makers.

Context

This AHRC-funded project explores how English porcelain was developed in the 18th century Chelsea and Bow factories. Created to replicate the highly coveted Chinese and Japanese export porcelain, these two manufacturers were the first in Britain to produce soft-paste porcelain to compete with European counterparts such as Meissen. The project will make use of the V&A Science Lab to trace London porcelain experimentation and manufacturing, highlighting lesser-known objects from the Ashmolean Museum, Newham Borough of London and the V&A, stimulating new ways of engaging with ceramics collections

Aim

By bringing together three porcelain collections, the project aims to demonstrate how science can inform and promote heritage and cultural history research. By showcasing the V&A Science Lab as a national hub for heritage science, the project intends to provide the opportunity to focus on the process of experimenting with, designing and making of much-desired white body porcelain. It aims to explore how the creativity and ingenuity of 18th-century ceramics pioneers may provide inspiration for current and future makers and artists.

Outcomes

The project will shine light on the composition of early English porcelain and will help to clarify the technical experimentation that took place in these early London porcelain factories. Students from Newham and Chelsea will conduct a series of experiments to deepen our understanding on the craft and innovation of soft-paste porcelain manufacture. An exhibition at Stratford Library and workshops for Newham Heritage Month will also explore how heritage science and re-making practices can help us better understand the places we live in today and inspire us to innovate and experiment tomorrow.

The Team
Principal Investigator

Dr Lucia Burgio is Senior Conservation Scientist at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where she manages the V&A Science Lab, leading the analysis and technical examination of museum objects. She assists the Museum’s curators and conservators in ... see more

Co-Investigator

Dr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth is the Curator of 17th- and 18th-Century Ceramics and Glass in the Department of Decorative Art and Sculpture at the V&A and Tutor in History of Design with the V&A/Royal College of Art. She holds a PhD in Art History fro ... see more

Georgia Haseldine
Researcher (Public Engagement)

Dr Georgia Haseldine is V&A East and VARI Public Engagement Fellow. She is leading the V&A’s The Question of Clay research project in collaboration with renowned Chicago-based artist and VARI Emeritus Fellow, Theaster Gates. The Question of Clay explo ... see more

Researcher (Scientific Analysis)

Dr Kelly Domoney is Conservation Manager (Preventive, Science and Technical) at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Her research and publications centre on the application of non-destructive analytical techniques to the study of archaeological ... see more

External Partner
Jess Conway
- Borough Archivist, London Borough of Newham
Jan Cullen
- Creative Producer Newham Heritage Month
Sue Gosling
- Museum Collections Officer, London Borough of Newham
V&A Team
Dr Valentina Risdonne
- Laboratory Coordinator, Collections Care and Access
Dr Lucia Noor Melita
- Conservation Scientist (Modern Materials), Collections Care and Access
Christopher Foster
- PhD student, Open University and V&A
Alice Conibere
- MA student, History of Design MA V&A/RCA
Cate Mccowin
- MA student, History of Design MA V&A/RCA
Grace Santry
- MA student, History of Design MA V&A/RCA
Events

Join us for an object-handling workshop with local artists as we celebrate the launch of our exhibition Making East London Porcelain.

Background image: by Valentina Risdonne