Beginning on the 24 October and ended on 6 November 2018, China Design Centre has successfully organised the first Porcelain Tour of China for ceramic lovers from the UK. It has been a wonderful adventure for all, and thanks to our expert guide Wenying Li from Sanbao International Ceramic Village who arranged the tour in Jingdezhen. We have witnessed the history of porcelain from the original sites, museums and antique markets, watched craftsmen working live, met some internationally renowned artists, national masters as well as rising talents of contemporary ceramic art, and even bumped into the kiln-opening ritual of a family dragon kiln that only happens three times a year.
As the guests commented:
“The trip was everything I hoped it would be and I had a brilliant time. I very much appreciate your listening to the things we loved to do and making it possible to meet some of the masters and gain such a lovely insight into the world of Chinese porcelain.”
“Thank you very much for being such a lovely travelling companion and looking after us so well. It was a fantastic tour, we met some wonderful people, and I am delighted to report that my husband was quite impressed with the small collection of pottery and teas that I brought home.”
Here are some highlights of the 2018 Tour.
* The 2020 Porcelain Tour of China programme is out, click here to view.
· The History
Jingdezhen Heritage of Ceramic Industry Museum, Tao Xi Chuan Art District, Jingdezhen
We covered a wide range of angles on the history of porcelain in the journey. Starting with Shanghai Museum’s extensive collection, we moved on to Jingdezhen China Ceramics Museum, and Jingdezhen Heritage of Ceramic Industry Museum renovated from the original Yuzhoucichang Factory to learn more about the rise and fall of the ceramic production at ‘porcelain capital’ of the world from ancient times to the 1990s.
Relic site of dun-making mills and dragon kiln, Rao Nan, Jingdezhen
The visit to Rao Nan Scenic Area with relic sites dated back to Song dynasty gained a clear insight into the old ways of Jingdezhen porcelain making, dun-making and the dragon kiln firing. The antique market that opened every early Monday mornings enabled us to get hold of old pieces of porcelain, whether they were 1000-year-old for real or not.
Outside of Jingdezhen, we also visited Longquan Celadon Museum and the ‘Palace - Coming Home’ exhibition where 102 pieces of celadon from the Palace Museum in Beijing returned to Longquan for the first time since they were made a long time ago; Southern Song Dynasty Guan Kiln Museum in Hangzhou, guided by expert Yuan Wang.
· Watching and Making
Workshop experience, Sanbao International Ceramic Art Institute, Jingdezhen
Apart from the half-day hands-on workshop at Sanbao, we watched many skilful artisans working on different stages of porcelain along the tour.
Men working on making giant porcelain pot, Jingdezhen
A craftsman mending a porcelain bowl using the ancient technique ‘stapling porcelain’ (锯瓷), Yi Shan Men, Sanbao, Jingdezhen
· Meeting the People
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Tour is that we got to meet so many interesting people. From famous artists like Caroline Cheng and Takeshi Yasuda, master makers like Aimin Chen, Jianbo Pan and Kun Zhao, to emerging talents and designers like Xiaodong Bian, Zhenpeng Fang, Zhiwei Xu and Chunming Pan, not just seeing their works, we often sat down and had nice conversation with them over some good tea or coffee in their studios.
Meeting Caroline Cheng at the Pottery Workshop, Jingdezhen
Visiting Takeshi Yasuda at the RedHouse, Jingdezhen
Contemporary artist Xiaodong Bian’s studio, Jingdezhen
Visiting celadon master Aimin Chen’s private exhibition space, Longquan
· Special Events
The most special event we have encountered was probably the kiln-opening of Chen Family Kiln in Baoxi, Longquan, right next to the Bamboo Architecture Village we were staying. The kiln was one of the traditional dragon kilns that are still in use today. It fired celadon ware that were made by Xianming Chen’s studio three times a year, and the opening was a prominent local event that came with a ceremony and an auction.
Chen Family Kiln-opening ceremony, Baoxi, Longquan
· Tea and More
Besides the discovering porcelain in-depth on this Tour, we have also experienced a lot of tea on the way. We visited the Tea Museum in Hangzhou for a throughout lesson on Chinese tea culture, the tea factory and rock tea (a particular type of Oolong) roasting process in Wuyi Mountains, had several tea ceremonies, in the Pusu Art Space in Shanghai, Jiaye Shanshe Hotel in Wuyi Mountains, Qing Teng Tea House in Hangzhou, or at nearly every artists and makers’ studios.
Watching rock tea roasting process and having tea ceremony at Jiaye Shanshe Hotel, Wuyi Mountains
As well as experiencing the modern cities, we have enjoyed some magnificent landscape of rural area and nature reserve.
Sunrise at Sanbao Mountain, Jingdezhen
From the classic 5-star Jin Jiang Hotel in Shanghai, tea manor resort Jiaye Shanshe in Wuyi and Landison Longjing Resort in Hangzhou, to the bamboo architecture in Baoxi, Longquan, we stayed in some interesting and special accommodation on the tour. In Jingdezhen, we were immersed in the ceramic culture by staying at the private rooms of Sanbao International Ceramic Art Institute with our brilliant expert guide Wenying Li, the sister of artist Jackson Li who founded the Institute, and not to mention that there was the most famous Sanbao restaurant just next door.
The International Cultural and Creative Bamboo Village, Baoxi, Longquan
Last but not least, we have enjoyed some remarkable meals during the Tour, from authentic food locally, to fusion, vegetarian or fancy Chinese cuisine.
28 Hubin Restaurant, Hyatt, Hangzhou
So, if you would like to join our Porcelain Tour of China next time, we are planning one in April 2020. Check out our new programme here.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Porcelain Tour.