The National Gallery of Victoria has really been WOW-ing us of late. So many excellent exhibitions we’ve hardly been able to keep up with – Gaultier, Shrigley, Romance was Born and all the amazing kids programmes… SO MUCH AWESOME.
It must be said though, curated programs aside, the other area NGV consistently deliver on is in the GIFT shop stakes. Their excellent design store (also online) is always full of incredible finds, and beyond their impressive range of art books and exhibition merchandise, the retail team have recently begun collaborating with local makers, commissioning exclusive handcrafted items inspired by the NGV’s various exhibitions. It is so fantastic to see the NGV supporting local creatives in this way!
The most recent of these collaborations is a series of exquisite handcrafted ceramics vessels by Daylesford based ceramicist Bridget Bodenham, inspired by the current exhibition ‘A Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor, 1736-1795′.
‘The NGV design store got in touch six weeks before the opening of the Golden Age of China, it is a real honour to be asked to collaborate with them’ says Bridget. ‘I talked with the lovely retail team about creating a white porcelain and gold collection. From sketches to samples and suggested patterns the series was born!’
It wasn’t hard for Bridget to find inspiration for her range within the exhibition archive. Between 1736–1795, China was the wealthiest and most populous nation in the world. This exhibition brings together an incredible collection of artefacts which have never been seen outside of China, making it a very special show, full of precious objets d’art and palace treasures.
‘I learnt that the emperor Qianlong was a great art collector and connoisseur and had a love of decorative arts, including porcelain, from all around the world’ says Bridget. ‘Historically Chinese porcelain was more valuable than gold. It is still a relatively expensive material unlike any other clay due to its whiteness, super fine properties and translucency’.
The artefacts Bridget has referenced are not ceramic, however. Instead, her creative response draws on the detailed golden patterns in the Emperor’s beautiful, embroidered silk robes, and a precious solid gold winged cup (so valuable it was used only on birthday celebrations!).
The resulting collection includes a large vase, winged tea and espresso cups, lotus flower shaped bowls, spoons and brooches. This work is all handcrafted entirely by Bridget in her Daylesford studio, and fired three times up to 1300 degrees celsius, with 8 carat metal gold lustre adding a beautiful finish to each vessel.
‘I hope it is the first of one of many collaborations with the NGV design store as I have really enjoyed making the series, and it is great to see them collaborating with Melbourne artists and makers’ Bridget says. We concur!
Bridget Bodenham for NGV is available at NGV Design Store at NGV International and their online shop.
A Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor, 1736-1795 runs at NGV International until June 21.