In-progress, to launch 2019-2020
In 1999 Robert Copeland described the myriad of Willow Pattern tableware produced in Britain over the past three centuries as ‘gentle misinterpretations’ of Chinese culture. However Blue Willow – unquestionably the world’s favourite china motif – was in fact Chinoiserie, aggressively marketed to undercut the Chinese domination of the global ceramics market.
As a marketing ploy, the design was accompanied by an ‘authentic’ legend capitalising on the European craze for the ‘far East’, while simultaneously portraying Chinese culture as mysogenistic and tyrannical; it was so effective that Asian ceramicists were soon forced to copy the design, further fuelling the myth of its authenticity. The pattern’s ongoing popularity reflects the extent to which ‘the West’ was and continues to be fascinated by – and appropriate - the aesthetic traditions of Asia.
Chinoiserie remains something of a guilty pleasure, via its undeniable aesthetic charm, but intensely-problematic and kitsch appropriation of Asian culture. It reflects the worst excesses of colonial imperialism, yet reflects a level of fascination for the Asian ‘other’ that could be seen as (albeit naively) cosmopolitan in spirit. This exhibition invites a number Western Australian artists to develop new works investigating this aesthetic legacy.
The core of the exhibition will be the outcomes of a series of residencies at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, and the adjoining Brighton Pavilion, England, and The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, between 2015-2016.
Image: Production still from Gulchenrouz by Andrew Nicholls. Image by Casey Ayres with thanks to the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton.
Tanija and Graham Carr
Image: Production still from work in progress by Casey Ayres, 2015. Image by Casey Ayres with thanks to the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton.