EARTH + FIRE = VESSEL.

The summer exhibition at the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution, 2 July-10 September 2011, 10am – 4pm.
In association with the Museum of East Asian Art.
Entrance free.

Who does not love the feeling of squeezing a lump of clay between their fingers? There is a magic in the way it begins to take a shape as we handle it. It can become any object we desire.
From earliest times people have made pots, shaping clay, the most accessible raw material on earth, with their hands, then baking it in a fire to see it transformed into a new substance – ceramic – strong, hard and not dissolved by water.
Useful things could now be made—vessels for cooking and storing food. However this new achievement required some technical understanding to control and manipulate the elements of earth and fire. From the simple bonfire, the kiln developed, and glazes were created to make the surfaces of pots more hygienic and attractive. With the discovery of the potter’s wheel, people could make lots of pots in easily repeatable forms.
For millennia, potters have been engaged in understanding the chemistry of ceramics and tinkering with the technology to improve their craft and industry.
We explore this long tradition in the exhibition with examples from the pottery collections of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution and the Museum of East Asian Art, including a pot from the earliest known pottery in the world – the Jomon culture of Japan.
A roof tile from the Imperial city of Peking, an Etruscan jug found in the ruins of Pompeii, a Neolithic loom weight, and a 12th century tea pot in the shape of a melon, among others, show how pots have been made for the last 5000 years of human history.

For information about the Museum of East Asian Art, please contact Michel Lee, curator, Museum of East Asian Art, 12 Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QJ, T: 01225 464640 or visit their web site.

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