Edmund de Waal will unveil his largest and most complex installation to date, a thousand hours, as the focal point of a new solo exhibition of the same name at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London. Eleven major new works will be showcased across both of the gallery's spaces at 31 & 34 Cork Street, W1, from 6 October until 10 November, including a total of 2202 hand-thrown vessels.
"I first visited Edmund de Waal's studio in 2009 and, after 20 minutes of looking and talking, I offered him a solo exhibition which took place less than a year later. This sell-out show represented a transitional moment in his career." says Alan Cristea. "He is an artist who has never believed in the arbitrary delineations so beloved of the art world, and our exhibition put paid to any notion that you have to be either a ‘fine' artist or a potter, but cannot be both. This second exhibition is truly extraordinary in both its scale and ambition and without a doubt firmly places de Waal as one of the most original artists working internationally in any medium today."
a thousand hours, 2012, is an installation comprising a pair of identical, free-standing vitrines (each measuring 240cm high x 210cm wide x 75cm deep) together containing 1,000 pots, which will dominate the gallery at 34 Cork Street. It is described by de Waal as being "anti-monumental, a work with real architectural presence and scale but that isn't a monument since the viewer can move through and around the work". a thousand hours explores the notion of ‘holding' a large amount of time in one space. Every pot takes a particular amount of time to wedge, throw, turn, fire, glaze and re-fire; in a way, each one represents the unit of time invested in its creation, a quantity of time contained, held still in a timeless moment.
In the gallery space at 31 Cork Street, de Waal will exhibit a number of major new works including on the middle watch, a white aluminium cabinet containing over 600 pots, and sculpture for a large wall, a 6-foot tall vitrine behind opaque glass. in praise of shadows, a Donald Judd-inspired stack of twelve aluminium shelves interspersed with porcelain dishes, is titled after the essay, In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki on Japanese aesthetics, first published 1933 in Japan. The book has had a profound influence on de Waal, particularly with reference to the importance of shadows, how some things should be brought into the light but other things can remain in darkness, and Tanizaki's reflections on the layered tones of various kinds of shadows and their power to reflect low sheen materials (like ceramics) and the values of gleam and shine.
a thousand hours is the second solo show by de Waal to have been staged by the Alan Cristea Gallery; their inaugural exhibition From Zero (18 March - 17 April 2010) took a line from Kasimir Malevich's manifesto The Non-Objective World as its starting point, and marked the first time that de Waal publicly exhibited a ‘vitrine' piece.
Edmund de Waal was apprenticed as a potter in Canterbury, studied ceramics in Japan and then read English at Cambridge. His porcelain is in over forty international museum collections and his installation signs and wonders is permanently on view in the dome of the ceramics galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum. He is currently working on exhibitions for museums in the UK and America. Twelve site-specific pieces are on public display at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, until the 28 October 2012, and de Waal's work will also be on display at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition from 4 June until 12 August 2012. De Waal is an award-winning writer, whose publications include the bestselling The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, published by Chatto & Windus, which received immense critical acclaim and won the Costa Book Award (Biography 2010) and the Ondaatje Prize (2011). He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours List for services to art.