I will be launching a new collection of work at the Other Art Fair in London and New York and Roy’s People Art Fair, London this Autumn. This Cobalt Collection started with research into the South London potters and the development of British Delft Ware. This involved the use of cobalt blue in the form of smalt on white porcelain, a style and technique which originated in China. Prior to its introduction British made ceramics were largely coloured using green copper glaze or slip ware which was earth tones. The “new “ 16th century technology was a result of the expertise coming into Holland from China through the Dutch East India Company. Then that expertise coming into Britain as the result of Dutch and French refugees bringin the expertise with them and then settling in what was then the outskirts of London. At the time “foreigners” , and that meant anyone born outside of London were not allowed to settle in the City of London, so the potteries grew up in Southwark, Vauxhall, and other neighbouring areas close to the City and the Thames, and the refugees and migrants brought the expertise and coloured glazes with them.
After a lovely conversation with a potter and British Museum Educator in my friends garden it grew into research into cobalt pigments all together and the colour traces they have left as evidence of trade which goes as far back as the late Bronze Age in the form of glass beads, probably Mediterranean, found in a UK burial pit which may have been as a result of the trade in Cornish tin or copper with the Iberian Peninsular and then in turn with Phoenician traders there or alternatively possibly from French Mediterranean bronze age blue glass makers.
British Museum Collection selected evidence of Production and Trade in Cobalt pigmented objects: glass and ceramics for more information and a sneak preview of some of the collection please follow this link to the gallery page Cobalt Collection, from the Vauxhall Potters to the British Museum
I have produced a series of works which using cobalt painting pigments (and to a limited degree smalt which I have used in acrylic rather than my usual oil as it is fugitive in oil), and red earth pigments in reference to my London ceramics starting point, the titles come from places where cobalt blue pigments were made and found as detailed in the British Museum collection. So there is physical colourful evidence of trade from thousands of years ago, the stories of those people engaged in that trade can only be imagined. But evidence there is of sharing ideas and technologies across boundaries of culture, language and geography. A human exchange of material goods and ideas. A selection will be at the Other Art Fair in London, a further selection in New York and a final selection in Roy’s People Art Fair on the South Bank near where those refugee potters worked.
Each abstract piece is invitation to fall in get a little lost and remember.
If you would like tickets to the Other Art Fair, London please click on the link below and use the code NEEDHAMCOMP for your free ticket
Saxony and London Clay
hand mixed oil on canvas