Saturday, 16 July 2011

Ceramic Art

Ceramics aren't really my thing, that is to say I've never given them much thought.  Except for dishware and the odd vase or knick-knack, I wouldn't say I have much of it around.  [Pause, while I get up and go around my house.  Clay-based items are actually quite ubiquitous, I just never noticed.  I'm such a dozy person.]  Then again, looking up the term, "ceramic" is about the process (heating and cooling) rather than the material. 

So, when Sandra waxed enthusiastically about this museum in Pomona, I wasn't too sure about it.  However, one follows the hostess's lead in these things (sort of like eating what's put in front of you) and if 50-some years has shown me anything, it is that keeping an open mind is paramount to having an interesting life. 

Sandra is a volunteer at AMOCA and she's taken some classes, so it's clearly her thing.  Also, in one of our rambles around Claremont we dropped in on a friend of hers, Marjorie, who was kind enough to give us some tea and a tour of her house.  I'm quickly warming to the idea that a smaller house is a blessing, particularly if it's in the right location.  Marjorie and her late husband, both artists, lived in Mexico for over 20 years.  The house tour was more to show us her husband's works, paintings built up with layers of shellac, I think it was, resulting in an almost tile-like effect.  They were very striking and I could see why she wanted to keep them.

She also showed us some of her work.  One piece had tiny little people occupying some of the spaces in a printer's box; you know, like these.  Another piece involved small faces, caricatures perhaps, mounted in groups onto a rectangular background.  The faces are all on hinges that allow one to alter the directions they face, so that one can almost create relationships or a story line between the faces by which way they are turned.  I was really tempted to snap a photo, but wasn't sure of the artistic etiquette of that, never mind invading a complete stranger's house with a camera!  I'd never make a good journalist, would I?

So, we went to this museum.  And you know what?  It was lovely.  I looked at everything - except the coffee table books - and found several things I thought were really beautiful.  Even better, photographs were allowed, so I could share them with you.  So I was a really happy bunny. 

Eva Zeisel made these primary-coloured, geometric design dishes,pictured below, in the 1930s. 

She is originally from Hungary and is still living!  Even more, she is a presence on the internet.  If you love looking at beautiful things, you definitely need to check out some of these websites.  And of course, if you are in the area, you could always visit the American Museum of Ceramic Arts.  

I don't know if Sandra has converted me into a ceramics enthusiast, but I'm definitely joining the Eva Zeisel "a maker of useful things" fan club.  Her biography, by Lucy Young, is now on my book wishlist (Amazon, if you won't let me put the link+image where I want it, I won't put it on here at all).

Thank you, Sandra, for introducing me to Eva!


Terri said...

These are some beautiful ceramics! Like you, I associate them with a hobby that women of my mother's age had when I was growing up. Often they were pre-made forms that the women simply painted and then waited for them to return from the kiln. often the glazes were horrendous...possibly, I need to rethink.

Shelley said...

I did a few of those 'pottery' projects myself - what a nightmare! I suppose it should tell us just how challenging the medium can be...

Josephus said...

Dear Shelley.
I am a research student in Aberdeen. My name's Yang.
Actually, your photos at Edinburgh are so fantastic!!! Among them, your photo of the writer's museum is very relevant for my article.
May I copy your photo of the writer's museum? Unless, I'll give up copying and have a long journey to Edinburgh from Aberdeen.
I look forward to your permission.
My email address is

Best regards,

Shelley said...

Josephus/Yang - You are welcome to use the photos of Edinburgh, if you will credit when you do so. I was a bit confused at your having commented about the photos on two posts which are not relevant to those photos and at your having given me two different email addresses, so I decided not to email you. Sorry we live in a world that makes people suspicious. I hope you find this message and that I am able to help you with your school project and save you the journey down to Edinburgh (though you really should visit someday!).

Best wishes,