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This publication examines the creative development of ceramic transferwares, evaluating the nature and scope of their international impact. It illustrates how their successful appropriation by contemporary artists draws on an unexpected cultural longevity.
In the early nineteenth century, printed tablewares formed part of the new media of the age. Together with patterned textiles and wallpapers they assimilated, then disseminated the constructs of landscape imagery making the previously exclusive available to many. Printed tablewares played a significant role in the democratization of artistic imagery as well as the development of cultural and national identities. Eventually, as newer media forms began to supersede the vitrified print, meaning became diluted, so that the genre eventually reached obsolescence and kitsch.
Today there is a growing interest in this undervalued material – from collectors, curators, museologists and contemporary artists who reference and celebrate the genre. The new artwork is international in nature, reflecting the significant cultural impact printed transferwares had as they were produced and exported around the world.
Horizon: Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics explores and illustrates the complex journey of ideas, landscapes and images, through different media to their realization in blue and white, then multicoloured tablewares. Melding historical enquiry with contemporary practice, the book illustrates how artists re-appropriate this historical genre to observe, record, comment and re-animate. Text and visual essay explore unexpected political and cultural themes in the apparently banal, ensuring that the reader will never see these familiar objects in quite same way again.