Pots in Milan and Delft

14th Sep 2016

Over the last couple of weeks, the day job took me first to Delft, and then to Milan, and on both occasions I had time to find some pots.

First I looked at some of the traditional Delftware, both in the antique shops and a couple of the small studios in this small, picturesque Dutch town. The original technique of covering the grey clay with a white tin glaze to paint on, and then covering with a clear glaze, is no longer practiced, instead they paint or use transfers onto a bisque fired white clay, before applying the clear glaze. The white on the old tiles is more of a very pale blue-grey, quite warm and smoothing, whereas the newer pieces are a cold, harsh refrigerator white, and quite stark by comparison. Then on to things new, calling in at Terra Keramiek , an excellent gallery for modern ceramics. Of the potters not often seen in the UK, I like the paper thin porcelain of Guy van Leemput, the strong sculptural pieces by Martin McWilliam, and the plainer works by Daphné Corrigan.

In Milan I'd hoped to visit the Museo delle Arti Decorative to look at their ceramics, and in particular their Majolica, but it is closed for refurbishment until at least the new year. The curator suggested the Poldi Pezzoli museum, which just had some early European porcelain and an excess of Italian religious paintings and portraits, but its unexpected treasure was a collection of portable sundials and early watches, all masters of engineering and craftsmanship. The museum itself was built up by Pezzoli in his house, and left to the city on his death. There are 3 other similar "house museums" in Milan, and as the Museo Boschi de Stefano was round the corner from where I was staying, I called in there to find a large apartment full of Italian paintings and some 3D work from the 1920s to the 1950s. Interesting to see a wide range of work not often seen in the UK, especially Lucio Fontana's sculptural ceramics as I had previously only known him for his slashed canvasses.

This Saturday I'm exhibiting and demonstrating hand building at the Test Valley Arts Showcase, from 10 to 3 at Broughton Village Hall. Then the next weekend my work's at the Wallop Artists annual exhibition - I'll be there at Friday's preview and Saturday morning.

Back to making now, with a last batch of earthenware pieces being finished off this weekend, and then switching over to stoneware to do some functional pieces and also to further develop the oil spot glazes, both technically and in producing attractive pieces with their strong black colouring. In particular, I want to recreate the Chines Partridge Feather glaze, where large brown spots form from adding a surface glaze high in phosphorous, and also to tweak the base glaze to get a hare's fur effect. I was also going to make some for inclusion in the Oxford Anagama's kiln firing this autumn, but that has now been postponed to next spring, so I can bring forward my tests with Uranium glazes - the cliff hanger for the next edition!