The Fitzwilliam has entered into an exciting new partnership with the internationally renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal, winner of the 2010 Costa prize for Biography with The Hare with Amber Eyes.
This project, entitled Material Response, will see de Waal travel to China later this year to make and commission pots in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province as part of the Museum's involvement with Stories of the World, a programme of the London 2012 Olympiad. To prepare for this work, de Waal has been working with curators at the Fitzwilliam to explore the Museum's world-class collection of ceramics.
De Waal was apprenticed as a potter in England, studied in Japan and read English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. His works are included in thirty international museum collections and he has made major installations for the V&A, Chatsworth and Kettles' Yard.
"Porcelain is the material that connects the East and West," says de Waal. "It has been the subject of dreams and desire, of trade, travel and story-telling for centuries. It is a huge privilege to work with the great Chinese collections at the Fitzwilliam and the potters of Jingdezhen to tell a different porcelain story in 2012."
Dr. Timothy Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum says,
"We are delighted that Edmund has seen in our exhibitions and artist exchanges with China scope to pursue his interests as a potter while adding an exciting contemporary relevance to our projects. The story of porcelain - like those of tea and silk - is also the story of the West's fascination with the East and above all, with China. Edmund's work will encourage people to view our collections in new ways, and appreciate better the extraordinary tradition of ceramic activity that China has witnessed over millennia of history - and which flourishes still today."
About Stories of the World: Stories of the World is a programme of the London 2012 Olympiad. It presents exciting new museum exhibitions across the UK, created by young people. The project is led by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), in partnership with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). The East of England will present Eastern Exchanges, an official part of Stories of the World that is a major festival celebrating the culture and colour of the east to mark the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Throughout 2010–13 museums and partner organisations across the region are delivering an inspiring programme of exhibitions, events, artist residencies and community projects which will unlock the secrets and stories of China, India and Pakistan. At the heart of Eastern Exchanges are the region’s young people, creating new ways for visitors to experience culture.