Saturday, 15 October 2011

Sunderland Museum - Part II

Continuing our tour of Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens...

There were quite a few examples of embroidery around, mainly from Greece and Turkey, of all places.  Vivien and I worried about the extreme amount of work that Turkish women apparently put into tea towels, but later we saw a display that showed a woman wearing a large rectangular piece of embroidered linen as a head covering.  That made better sense!  But you've seen embroidery, right?


I want to talk about pottery.  You might recall that Sandra took us to a museum of ceramic art in California earlier this year.  Not long after we got back I found a biography of one of Britain's most famous pottery designers during the interwar years.  Having just been to that museum - not to mention being interested in that time span - I couldn't put it down; but that is another post.  

I really liked this blue and white striped pattern.

Sunderland apparently has a history of pottery making in addition to glass.   There was much described in the ceramic designer's biography for which my mind couldn't create a picture, never having seen a 'sagger' or a 'bottle oven.'  This display gave me a better idea of what a village might have looked like when potting clay was discovered in the area and the industry developed. 

Don't forget to mentally add the smoke and soot - everything in pottery
villages was grey.  I'm sure there is a colour chart somwhere that
includes English Industrial Grey; or even English Weather Grey...

I can't say I get that excited about dishware.  Still,  we have about eight sets that belonged to various members of Bill's family.  I have my (first) wedding set and a few bits that belonged to Grandma's set of 'good' dishes.  When I was growing up melamine was popular and so 'good' dishes became anything (a) ceramic and (b) in a set where everything matched.  Maybe that's why we've hung on to so many sets of dishes.

Vivien pointed out the black and white plate at the back.  Most pottery was
actually painted by hand, but surely not those intricately detailed plates?  Must
look that up sometime.

Some of the more interesting bits in this large exhibit room were these lustre ware 'pictures'. 

They were called 'poor man's art'.  I'm not a fan of lustre ware.  The metallic irridescent finish just looks gaudy to me.  On the other hand, my evening lighting isn't provided by candles and I understand that these might have been quite lovely to people back then when they did rely on candles.  That is a significant point that is raised elsewhere (another post to come) in the museum.

In the 1800's people had a rather childish sense of humour, to my thinking. 

These ceramic mugs were made with frogs in them to startle the drinker as they neared the end of the beverage.  Apparently they may be a specialty of Sunderland, as Google only finds them if one includes 'Sunderland', 'frog' and 'mug' in the search.

I don't suppose you ever particularly wondered where the term 'decal' came from, but you're about to find out.  I certainly never associated the peel-and-stick jobbies with ceramics.

This glass ball has been decorated on the inside with paper cut-outs or scraps and the whole thing filled with plaster.  This technique is called 'decalcomania'.  Objects such as this were made as curiosities, souvenirs or commemoratives.  The decoration on this ball includes a picture of Edward VII.  Other odd shapes like rolling pins were also given the 'decalcomania' treatment.  This ball was made in Seaham bottleworks in 1912.
And finally, this is a Bachelor's dining set.  If you study it long enough you'll find a plate, a bowl, a drinking cup, some serving dishes and a candle stick on top.  I'm not really sure what all the pieces are in the set and I've not been able to find this on the internet, aside from a mention at the wonderful V&A:  they call it a Bachelor's Nightcap.

This dinnerware set probably makes more sense if you've read Amanda Vickery's book, Behind Closed Doors:  At Home in Georgian England.  Not that I have, I've only seen the BBC television series about this, which was excellent.   Of course, I took loads of notes when we watched.  It's been a while and I'm not sure I'll still understand my notes,  but  I may break them out and give them a go.   I'm guessing the book will be much like the series:  a mix of social history, architecture and interior design.    I've added this book to my Christmas wishlist and perhaps should put it on yours, too!

1 comment:

Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

I've never seen the "bachelor"s dining set before"...interesting! The mugs with the frogs are something we've looked for and never found to purchase; frogs and the grandkids in our house have a bit of a "family joke" link. We tried on a couple of occasions to find them for the grands. This is a very interesting post today!