National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

On a recent trip to Cardiff we had an hour or so at the National Museum. It is not a huge building and currently most of the interest in it is as a set for Doctor Who filming but there are one or two gems to be found there.

Quentin Blake

The Museum takes many touring exhibitions and we were lucky enough to see the House of Illustrations’ Quentin Blake – Inside Stories.

This is not a retrospective of Blakes work but more details the different sorts of work he produces but also how he achieves that. There are details of the materials and method he uses alongside some well-know illustrations from his career. A long-time illustrator for Roald Dahl books it was a real treat to see Mr and Mrs Twit and Matilda up close.

I have always admired his apparently slap-dash style. It turns out that this in fact a very thought through and complex method, where several copies of each illustration are made and a light box used to almost trace a new copy over the top of an old illustration, amending details as necessary. There is a lot of tippex used though to mask out unwanted lines and details on even the final pieces.

 

Edmund de Waal

Porcelain Wall, 2005

The Museum has a large collection of porcelain, the de Winton collection. de Waal used this resource to produce the pots on the porcelain wall. Each pot is glazed in one of seventeen white or cream glazes. Each pot carries a different makers mark. These were all found in the museums de Winton collection and this piece serves as a record of these glazes and marks.

The presentation of the pots is very interesting, they have all been grouped together, on curved shelves behind a sheet of glass. A parody of how ceramics are normally displayed in a museum setting? Also they have not been evenly spaced out along the shelves, a contrast to the often uniform presentation seen in museum ceramic collections.

This is an intriguing way to record data from a collection.

Lucy Rie

While snapping some pictures of pieces I liked, we were short for time so thought this was the best way to record what I had seen, I came across a set of cups and saucers and a small vase. I didn’t realise it at the time but they were made by the same maker, Lucie Rie.

I particularly liked the simple shape of the pieces but mostly the linear decoration on the cups. Here the decoration has been painted on to the pieces to create the pattern, but in one case has also involved removing colour to create a pattern. The area left unpainted at the lip of each cup and the edge of each saucer forms a sort of barrier to the decoration that the lines almost hang off.

While looking at other Rie work I discovered that she made ceramic buttons. I love buttons so was intrigued to see how these had been made. The V&A have a large collection of, not only the buttons, but also the moulds that were used to create them. Rie also made umbrella handles, many of which survive in the V&A archive.

All the items I have included were very simple in appearance but I like that their shapes have been augmented by very simple decoration.

While at the museum I also picked up some postcards and took a few more photos, these are below.

 

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