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  • Writer's pictureART HISTORY

Grand Narrative(s) of Blue and White

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Thursday 10 February, 12-1pm AEDT (online)

This webinar is an associated event for Sydney Lunar Festival 2022, organised by the China Studies Centre and the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney.

Catch up on Dr Burchmore's talk here:

Among the countless types of ceramic art that have gained popularity over the centuries, there are perhaps none more widely known and enjoyed than blue and white ware.

For some, this iconic palette immediately recalls the high point of the global trade in Ming- and Qing-dynasty Chinese porcelain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For others, it is tied indelibly to the city of Delft in the Netherlands and the Dutch Golden Age of the seventeenth century, when this bustling port became one of the wealthiest trading hubs in the world. Then again, yet others might think of the glazed ceramic tiles favoured by the architects of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia, or perhaps of the ubiquitous Willow Pattern mass-produced in England and elsewhere from the early nineteenth century.

With reference to pieces in the collection of the Chau Chak Wing Museum, this talk will introduce these settings for the creation of blue and white ware, noting the connections between them and the extent to which they have each contributed to a broader ‘grand narrative’ of ceramic invention and innovation.

Dr Alex Burchmore is an art historian specialising in the study of Chinese and Southeast Asian art, past and present, with a particular focus on ceramics, trade and exchange, and the interweaving of the personal and material. Alex received his PhD from the Australian National University in 2019 and joined the University of Sydney’s Museum & Heritage Studies department in 2021. His first book, New Export China: Translations Across Time and Place in Contemporary Chinese Porcelain Art (University of California Press, forthcoming in 2023), traces the extent to which artists in China have used porcelain to shape their personal, historical, and cultural identities, from the 1990s to the present.

Dr Shuxia Chen (discussant) is an art historian and curator of Asian art. Her research concerns the relationship between visual art, society and politics in China, particularly the role of photography in forming new understandings of the transversal space between the state and the cultural-intellectual classes in the socialist and post-socialist era. She joined the Chau Chak Wing Museum as its inaugural curator for the China Gallery in 2019, bringing rich inter-disciplinary knowledge and strong industry experience in the GLAM sector. Shuxia is working on three book projects, including edited volume A Home for Photography Learning: the Friday Salon, 1977-1980 (Shanghai Fine Arts Publishing House, forthcoming 2022). She is also Lecturer of Curating and Cultural Leadership at UNSW Art & Design and the David Scott Mitchell Memorial Fellow of the State Library of NSW (2022)

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