We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

From Pottery to Porcelain

Pocket Exhibition by Yin Cao

Utensils and vessels used for cooking, consuming and storing food are essential to human life. We use them and throw them away as ordinary commodities, but we also collect and admire them as treasures.

In a new Pocket Exhibition 'From Pottery to Porcelain', curator Yin Cao highlights pieces from the Art Gallery collection that show the extraordinary evolution of Chinese ceramics over thousands of years.

Curator text: Utensils and vessels used for cooking, consuming and storing food are essential to human life. We use them and throw them away as ordinary commodities, but we also collect and admire them as treasures.

China, Qing dynasty, Yongzhen–Qianlong periods (c1725–50) Chicken cup porcelain with underglaze blue and doucai overglaze enamelsArt Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Mr J.H. Myrtle 1992 

From Pottery to Porcelain pocket exhibition curated by Yin Cao
'Newly glazed in an auspiciousja de-like colour The finished bowl was first offered to my lord Skilf ully moulded like a full moon dyed with spring water Deftly turned like a swirl of thin ice holding green clouds Like a moss-covered ancient bronze mirror pr esent at this occasion A tender dew-soaked lotus leaf par ted from the river 's edge With Zhongshan bamboo-leaf tea freshly brewed How can one as weak as I withstand such intoxication?'  –Xu Yin (c869-938) The secret-coloured tea bowl tribute to the Emperor
Curator text: Ceramics became the most common material used for food consumption as early as the Palaeolithic Age.The earliest known pottery in the world has been found in southern China where people started to make ceramics about 20,000 years ago and never stopped.

China, Neolithic period, Majiayao culture (c2350–2050 BCE) Jar with painted decoration earthenware, Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Elisabeth M. Smith 2002 

Curator text: The evolution of Chinese ceramics down the millennia demonstrates innovation and the desire for perfection in modelling, decorating,glazing and firing.

China, Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) Food storage ‘bu’ jar 100s–200s, stoneware with olive green glazeArt Gallery of New South Wales, gift of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1962 

Curator text: From hand-building using pads or coils of clay,to wheel-throwing and the use of moulds,ceramic manufacturing has developed to meet market demands.

China, Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) Ding ware dish early 1100s, porcelain with underglaze carved design, rim bound with copper, Art Gallery of New South Wales, bequest of Kenneth Myer 1993 

Curator text: Over time, the forms of vessels have become more versatile and refined,with methods of decorating including painting, incising, glazing and moulding.

China, Jin dynasty (1115–1234) Yaozhou ware bowl with floral design porcelain with celadon glaze; carving, moulding, Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1984 

Curator text: The last major process in ceramic production is firing, which sets the colours, the shapes and the strength of the objects.

China, Ming dynasty, Yongle period (1403–24) Jingdezhen ware dish with floral scroll design porcelain with underglaze blue decoration, Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1988 

Curator text: Designs on ceramic vessels contain rich information on many aspects of the culture of the day, including literature, folklore, values and religious beliefs.

China, Ming dynasty, Zhengde period (1506–21) Jingdezhen ware stem bowl with dragon and cloud design porcelain with yellow and green enamel, Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1965 

From Pottery to Porcelain pocket exhibition image credits: China, Qing dynasty, Yongzhen–Qianlong periods (c1725–50) Chicken cup porcelain with underglaze blue and doucai overglaze enamels, Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Mr J.H. Myrtle 1992   China, Neolithic period, Majiayao culture (c2350–2050 BCE) Jar with painted decoration earthenware, Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Elisabeth M. Smith 2002   China, Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) Food storage ‘bu’ jar 100s–200s, stoneware with olive green glaze, Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1962   China, Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) Ding ware dish early 1100s, porcelain with underglaze carved design, rim bound with copper, Art Gallery of New South Wales, bequest of Kenneth Myer 1993   China, Jin dynasty (1115–1234) Yaozhou ware bowl with floral design porcelain with celadon glaze; carving, moulding, Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1984   China, Ming dynasty, Yongle period (1403–24) Jingdezhen ware dish with floral scroll design porcelain with underglaze blue decoration, Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1988   China, Ming dynasty, Zhengde period (1506–21) Jingdezhen ware stem bowl with dragon and cloud design porcelain with yellow and green enamel, Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1965