4 February 2014
Ceramic Paint Collection Cornwall
Words: Xandra van der Eijk
Photography: Kirstie van Noort
More than a finalized product, the original idea and research is what will make a project stand out. It always shows immediately when there is more to it. And thus we are extremely proud to present Collection Cornwall.
Ceramist Kirstie van Noort started a project a couple of years ago with an interest in the porcelain industry. She visited Cornwall, an area in the UK, dedicated to mining industry. The porcelain industry is the only industry that is currently still active. The rest of the area is filled with closed mines. Up until the nineties these mines profited from the Industrial Revolution, but eventually prices dropped and left the workers unemployed. The waste completely redefined the landscape. It is a ghost-area, but one of the most beautiful in its kind.
Kirstie spoke with a lot of people while she was there. Where there used to be lively villages, there is now not much more than hills of waste and the occasional farmer. The waste is just sitting there, nobody is responsible, some areas are cultural heritage and can’t even be touched. As for the porcelain industry, Kirstie discovered that producing one ton of pure clay will leave no less than six tons of waste. Some of the components within the waste get repurposed, but the hills are evidently filled with the remains of the production process.
Boots on and shuffle in hand, Kirstie searched for samples in the area. It brought her to soils filled with the original component of porcelain ‘kaolin’, as well as quartz and mica, but also remains of the forlorn copper and tin industry were present in her samples. She brought a total of twelve raw materials home and transformed them in to paint suitable for application to porcelain and earthenware. First she dried the samples, then she ground them into solid pigments. By diluting them in water, she was able to transfer the pigments onto small sample tiles. She made a chart of no less than 108 different shades, each raw material its own quirks and response to heat and glaze.
In order to truly measure the effect and quality of the pigments, as well as to be able to communicate the endless possibilities of this new found method of coloring, Kirstie designed some basic shapes that refer back to the heritage of the mining industry. The three objects Bugle, Geevor and Nanpean have been named after the places where the raw materials were found, and reflect the three most important industries in this area, namely tin, copper and porcelain clay. ‘Bugle’ is a porcelain jug and refers to the original shape of the tin jug. It has a colored coating that was developed from the tin mines. Saucepan ‘Geevor’ shows the intense shine of the copper mine. ‘Nanpean’ is a porcelain cup and saucer and is colored with the pigments extracted from waste. Besides these three items, Kirstie made numerous cones and cups to test the pigments and the way they behave under different circumstances.
In collaboration with I Wait Here, Kirstie is researching further possibilities. We will keep you updated about this amazing project and the developments on the production of a ceramic collection based on this concept.