Jul 21st, '16, 12:51
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The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

by ethan » Jul 21st, '16, 12:51

Edmund de Wall, the potter & author came out w/ another book this Spring. It talks about his working porcelain & about the history of its production & processes in China etc.

I read the review of this in the March 10th New York Review of Books & await its delivery to my local library to read it.

Currently exhibits of de Waal's tiny white teapots are being featured in some galleries around the world as Installation Art. His pots may be functional but are meant to be seen in quantity on fancy wood behind glass etc. more than they are to be held & used.

de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes & his pottery are unique & this book sounds the same. Although he is obsessed w/ porcelain when he asks himself, "Who could not be obsessed?" He answers himself, "Most people."

I am not so interested in clay etc. (kaolin) or what rock is mixed in (petunse) but do love how a man writes about his interest. If anyone reads this, please share your thoughts etc.

Cheers

Jul 24th, '16, 08:39
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Re: The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

by Bok » Jul 24th, '16, 08:39

ethan wrote: Currently exhibits of de Waal's tiny white teapots are being featured in some galleries around the world as Installation Art. His pots may be functional but are meant to be seen in quantity on fancy wood behind glass etc. more than they are to be held & used.
I always find that sad and very pointless, if objects with a function are not used. That robs them of their reason of being.

If on the other hand they pretend to be a tool for a certain function, but do not perform well in it, then they are simply a bad design.

Countless teapots fit in that category, sadly. Supposedly art. But then again art is in my opinion reserved for things which do not have to fit a purpose. Teapots are still tools and a craft, no matter how artfully they might be created.

That said I personally do not fancy Mr De Waals teapots, from their esthetics nor functionally.

Jul 24th, '16, 10:55
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Re: The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

by ethan » Jul 24th, '16, 10:55

Bok,

I agree w/ you. I don't like teapots that are not meant to be used.

I like the writing of de Waal. When de Waal offers information, he lets me feel like I am involved. To me, installation art is the opposite of that. To me, it is cold. The work is there, untouchable while I am separated from it by ropes, glass, & being poor. For others it may be quite different.

Special exhibits at museums often require a hefty additional payment besides admission to the museum, have their run, & are gone. It is a master class for those w/ the time & $. "Today I was able to learn how to really appreciate porcelain," may be a viewers' bragging right, so to speak.

They may be inspired to look at tea sets at some shops. Later, they may buy some online. After the teaware is shipped to such people, 1/3 of the packages will be returned unopened, 1/3 after opened & repacked; &, I do not know what happens w/ the other 1/3 because I am not in homes of the rich enough for statistical analysis.

So Bok, How does a man write to bind the world together & also make teapots that we might look at only fleetingly? (He makes more $ that way than he would by making teapots we might buy to use may be the answer.)

I hope de Wall is unaware of the coldness of installation art. I hope de Waal's is trying to say w/ his installation, "Porcealain is beautiful to me. Is it beautiful to you also?"

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Jul 27th, '16, 09:54
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Re: The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

by Midwinter_Sun » Jul 27th, '16, 09:54

I looked through the book quickly at the store.
I would have definitely bought it years ago, right now I try to follow the rule "one in, one out".

For me, it had a heavy literary style and required commitment deeper than a casual glance.

Since there is very little contemporary prose on porcelain, this book might be a must read for other teaware lovers out there.

When I look at an image of his installations, I immediately notice the deliberate lack of usability of the cylinders for drinking ( not function friendly, made for show, not use)

For me, this is rather of-putting, as there is not much easily accessible porcelain clay left, producing it is a process requiring heavy labor and use of machines, and thus fossil fuels, and firing requires higher temperatures and thus again, more energy.

The display seems rather "conceptual" in the dead modern art sense of the word.

I wonder what kind of love for porcelain this gentleman has.
That said, he has written multiple works on ceramics and porcelain well regarded within the industry.
Image

On a tangent,

One of the older books that I enjoyed reading very much was the biography of Josiah Wedgwood, that covered his research into materials and business in detail, providing a very "close to home" feeling for me.

Josiah Wedgwood and his pottery

As it is out of copyright, you can get a free copy on Archive.

https://archive.org/details/josiahwedgwoodhi00burtuoft

As the digitized formats have multiple errors, go for the PDF or image scan ( raw files ).

Fave quote from the book

"Fine and delicate pottery of this order can have
been little less than a revelation to the natives of the
district, and a plentiful crop of legends has been handed
down as to how these " foreigners " were spied upon
in order to discover the secrets of such a superior manu-
facture. The old story goes that two local potters,
Astbury and Twyford, by an assumption of dense
stupidity, secured employment in their works and learnt
the methods they used."

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