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  • Writer's pictureMUSEUM STUDIES

Object Matters: Chinese Willow Pattern Dish

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Willow Pattern Dish, 19th century, China, porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue decoration, 39.7 x 31.4 cm; Collection of the Chau Chak Wing Museum.

For Lunar New Year 2022, GLAM@Sydney founding co-editor and Lecturer of Museum & Heritage Studies Dr Alex Burchmore spoke with Dr Craig Barker, Manager of Education and Public Programs at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, for a special episode of the Object Matters podcast series. Catch up on the conversation here.

They discuss a 19th century Chinese Willow Pattern dish in the Museum's collection, exploring how it represents a complex series of cultural interchanges and cross-pollinations between China and England, tracing the origins of the principal design elements in the Willow Pattern and how a 19th-century audience would have responded to these, and reflecting on the extent to which such pieces may have offered their owners an opportunity to indulge in escapist fantasy by introducing a note of the exotic into the domestic.

Object Matters is the Chau Chak Wing Museum's monthly podcast series. Host Dr Craig Barker asks guests to choose any one item to discuss from the museum’s collections of art, archaeology, natural history, science and culture.

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 Craig Barker is Manager of Education and Public Programs at the Chau Chak Wing Museum. He has extensive experience in K-12 and adult museum education and has published and presented on museum education in teaching and academic conferences and publications. Craig has a PhD in classical archaeology from the University of Sydney and has considerable archaeological fieldwork experience in Australia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. He is the director of the Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project excavating at the World Heritage listed site of Nea Paphos in Cyprus.

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