Edmund De Waal

In his visual art and literary works, Edmund de Waal uses objects as vehicles for human narrative, emotion, and history. His installations of handmade porcelain vessels, often contained in minimalist structures, investigate themes of diaspora, memory, and materiality. Born in Nottingham, England, de Waal apprenticed with the renowned potter Geoffrey Whiting from 1981 to 1983, catalyzing his interest in bridging Chinese and Japanese ceramic traditions with medieval English techniques. Much of de Waal’s work is concerned with collecting and collections—how objects are kept together, lost, stolen, or dispersed. In contrast, during the 2020 Covid lockdown de Waal made single works that are not part of an installation, a first for him in sixteen years. These vessels are specifically designed to be touched and held in the hand. De Waal comments, “I made these pots in lockdown during the spring and early summer. I was alone in my studio and silent and I needed to make vessels to touch and hold, to pass on. I needed to return to what I know—the bowl, the open dish, the lidded jar. When you pick them up you will find the places where I have marked and moved the soft clay. Some of these pots are broken and patched on their rims with folded lead and gold; others are mended with gold lacquer. Some hold shards of porcelain.”

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