THE story of porcelain's journey from China to Devon is being celebrated in a new exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.
The Bovey Tracey-based arts venue is hosting Porcelain Complexion, which combines historical artefacts specially loaned from Plymouth Museum with the work of several contemporary makers, until Sunday, November 17,
Among the antique tea-ware is a group of hand-dipped porcelain dogs by Helen Felcey. Her porcelain combines both sharpness and softness and gives the familiar an other worldly quality.
Other exhibitors include Westcountry potter Tim Gee, and Takeshi Yasuda, whose pieces are held in the V&A London.
Phil de Burlet, curator and exhibitor, said: "We chose porcelain as a good subject for an exhibition as it's not much covered. This is a timely moment to celebrate and tell the story of this type of clay especially because of the local links." Porcelain, whether ancient or contemporary, is known for its glazed-white translucence. Although usually associated with its origins in the Kaolin Mountains of China, it is little known that the same clay type exists within the geology of Cornwall and it was in Plymouth that the first British patent was granted in 1768.
This was to William Cookworthy, who opened the first UK porcelain factory in the town, and is why some key pieces collected by Plymouth Museum feature in the exhibition. As well as the exhibits, education panels and notes in the gallery tell the story of porcelain through its origins.
Works by five international contemporary makers sit alongside other historical pieces. They all use porcelain, but in very different ways. For example, Prue Venables, one of Australia's leading contemporary ceramic artists, preserves the functionality of a tea-strainer within the serene stillness of porcelain.
Motivated by a particular interest in functional objects and a search for simplicity, quietness and an essential stillness, Prue makes objects that are pared back, serene and deceptively simple. Her work is in many significant collections including the National Gallery of Australia. Devon Guild member Taja presents a striking blue-gazed wall installation. Taja came to England 30 years ago from his native Japan, and has been working as a self-taught potter using many different clays such as earthenware, stoneware and even brick clay.
Five years ago he started to use porcelain clay and, with help from Arts Council England, began to develop his own blue glazes.
Most work is for sale, with prices ranging from £25 to several thousand pounds. The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm, and entry is free. To coincide, a porcelain demonstration and make day is being held on Saturday, October 19, from 10am to 4pm. Free to watch or £10 to stay, it will show how to make a badge/brooch.