Polish Porcelain Revival: Deconstructing Dinner Sets
Not so long ago the word ‘porcelain’ brought to mind delicate antique or contemporary china in traditional design. Well-established manufacturers, like Cmielów, churned out their tea and coffee, dinner and breakfast sets to be bought by solid middle class families in china shops.
On the other hand, when you heard the word ‘pottery’ it evoked a wilder image of colourful, somewhat heavier objects the use of which could often be hard to determine. To buy them, you would go to an art gallery. The artsy thing was to dabble in crude clay.
‘Porcelain’ and ‘pottery’ used to refer to two different worlds. Not anymore. Nowadays it is bone china that the artsy crowd dabble in. And they are having a great time deconstructing traditional tableware.
An unfinished bowl with holes in it, a saucer that resembles spilled milk, porous vases holding light in striking ways, instead of the water for the flowers. Rough surfaces of Monika Patuszyńska’s works are a challenge to our expectation of how smooth and glossy china can be. Textures are often played with to bring out the contrasts. The artist herself talks about porcelain as completely detached from its traditional useful role at our tables.
A porcelain doll head, supplied with a handle, becomes a coffee mug. Natalia Gruszecka put old doll castings from Ćmielów factory to this original use in her Tête à Tête collection. She also likes it when a raw porcelain dish is transformed by the gesture of the artist - squeezed, flattened, crushed or skewed. This, in her view, is a priceless contribution in our times of mass produced objects.
Striking forms designed by Bartek Mejor mimic organic growth and erosion of rocks, crystals. They assume the fluidity of water and the twirls of cyclones, they repeat the rhythms of nature as observed by the artist. It’s a paradox that those organic forms are computer-designed. Bartek prints his designs in 3D in order to make a plaster mould which he continues to tweak with before casting.
Marek Cecuła’s Beauty of Imperfection confronts us with a richly ornamented coffee set seemingly cast in the original mould destroyed by time or perhaps human intervention. Cups are chipped, there are holes in the pot and the sugar bowl. The white glossy surface of china gives in to roughness here and there. The imperfect coffee set is narrating its own mysterious story. As are his Random Cups, perfect, identical and white, with three figure numbers in black that distinguish them from each other.
Another marked departure from the world of our grandmothers’ tea sets are works of Mopsdesign. Ornaments on their porcelain suddenly fade, only to reappear in unexpected places, like the inside of a cup.
The new approach to porcelain and artistic experiments with its potential have inevitably found their way to industrial production design. Long acclaimed Polish traditional porcelain factories in Ćmielów and Chodzież now boast a young brand Ćmielów Design Studio, headed by Marek Cecuła.
Written by Agnieszka Mitraszewska, Spring 2015