Art in Clay 2012 – Tables of the Cape, centuries of decorative and functional porcelain ware


 

Exhibition dates: 26 October to 26 November 2013

With its rich French Huguenot and Cape Dutch history and close association with conservation of heritage, La Motte participated in the third annual Franschhoek Art in Clay Festival with an exhibition focusing on the history of 18th and early 19th century tableware used at the Cape, with specific reference to various types of imported (blue and white) porcelain brought to the Cape by the Dutch East India Company and used by the early settlers.

The exhibition included historical blue and white ceramics from the Social History Collection of Iziko Museums of South Africa, as well as a collection of contemporary porcelain vessels and tableware by some of South Africa’s top ceramic artists.

The contemporary side of the exhibition included bowls by Anthony Shapiro and vessels by Katherine Glenday, two of South Africa’s finest ceramic artists inspired by the blue and white ceramic tradition and working in porcelain, albeit in differently expressed genres. Ella-Lou O’Meara who is regarded for her Boerendelft-inspired designs and Delft ceramic traditions will exhibit examples of her blue and white tableware dishes.

The affinity for blue and white ceramics is an age-old phenomenon that started with finely decorated Chinese ceramics which impacted on Europe when first exposed to it. Eastern ceramics were very popular amongst European nobility who exhibited collections of Eastern ceramics in their castles.

In Europe, and specifically in the Netherlands, many attempted replicating the Eastern ceramics resulting in the famous blue and white Delft ceramics. The English were successful in creating fine porcelain that became known as bone china. The high quality European porcelain was manufactured and exported and became an industry in itself.

The tradition of blue and white ceramics (porcelain and earthenware) as well as fine bone china stayed popular, and today again, are fashionable on Cape tables.

A special thank you to Esther Esmyol from IZIKO Museums (as guest curator) and Anthony Shapiro, Katherine Glenday and Ella-Lou O’Meara for their collaboration with the Tables of the Cape exhibition.