It is fascinating that almost every human culture in the history of the world has developed its own style of ceramics; and that it is in large part their ceramics that are the archeological remnants of ancient cultures. These historical fragments are the starting point of the works in this exhibition, whose title comes from the dictionary definition of archaeology. Made from the very earth of the land of their origin, primordially transformed by fire, they are partly the ceramics of China (a country synonymous with ceramics) and partly archeologi- cally recovered Dutch white Delftware.
My works often start with these two: the Chinese because of their place in ceramics history and the variety of materials; and the Delftware as it has such an important place in my native Dutch history and culture.
The Chinese works here cover the Han, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties. Some items were grave goods, intended to help the deceased in the afterlife. So many cultures do this – not least Egypt – it almost seems to be a universal approach to death in ancient cultures. Other items are from marine archeology – ships laden with ceramics, lost and lying undisturbed on the sea floor for hundreds of years before being found again in recent decades.
The Dutch works focus on 17th- and 18th-century fragments of white Delftware, itself
a material originally conceived to mimic Chinese porcelain. Unadorned with the usual cobalt-blue decoration, it was a material of everyday use, domestic or commercial, and when damaged was thrown away into cesspits, again lying undisturbed for hundreds of years until it was unearthed recently, often by amateur archeologists.
In these works the archeological remnants are the jumping-off point for a new narrative, telling new stories. Perhaps one day they too will disappear back into the earth and will again be found in some unimagined future. What stories will they tell then?