Ceramics at the Geffrye Museum

Geffrye Museum

Have you ever been to the Geffrye Museum? It’s housed in a row of former almshouses on Kingsland Road in East London (Hoxton Station on the Overground is right next to it) and it’s the Museum of the Home. It has a series of room settings showing how the middle classes lived in different periods which are absolutely fascinating. But I didn’t linger over these on my most recent visit as I was there for Ceramics in the City.

The Grade 1 listed almshouses were built in 1714 by the Ironmongers’ Company, with a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye, twice master of the Company and former Lord Mayor of London. There’s a statue of him over the entrance to the chapel, looking imperious and rather well dressed, with a long curly wig and his sword by his side.

Geffrye Museum

The almshouses provided homes for around fifty poor pensioners for nearly two hundred years. There is a lovely shady space in front, laid out just as it was in the days the almshouses were occupied, with large areas of grass on either side of a central path leading to the chapel. The London plane trees bordering the grass were planted around 100 years ago. It’s a perfect place to doze on a late summer afternoon.

Geffrye Museum

A new circular extension was added to the almshouses in 1998 (carefully placed so it’s hardly visible from outside) with rooms for changing displays. Last weekend it staged its annual showcase of the work of over fifty potters from across the UK (including three UK-based Japanese ceramicists), Ceramics in the City, part of the London Design Festival.

Geffrye Museum

Luckily the stalls of the three Japanese potters were grouped together, and I was able to talk to some of to them.

Akiko Hirai trained in ceramic design at Central St Martin’s. Her ceramics have an intensely hand made, almost naive feel to them. She often chooses dark clay which has many impurities that produce strong chemical changes when heated so traces remains when it cools down.

Akiko Hirai

Even her white pots have hints of the underlying nature of the material on their surface.

Akiko Hirai

Chito Kuroda’s work is quite different. It’s porcelain, made on a wheel with three matt glazes on the exterior surface and a shiny coloured glaze on the interior.

Chito Kuroda

Her work is calm and quiet with simple and clean outlines.

Chito Kuroda

Imahiko Kawamura works with fine porcelain using the technique of casting and hand-building. She has developed her own crystalline and blue marbling glazes.

Imahiko Kawamura

She focuses on simplicity of form and naturally created tints.

Imahiko Kawamura

After the buzz of the ceramics rooms, I went outside to visit the gardens behind the almshouses which are laid out as a sequence of period gardens covering the past four centuries.

Geffrye Museum

They’re not extensive but they’re quite charming.

Geffrye Museum

Especially lovely is the walled herb garden, which contains over 170 different plants with medicinal, culinary, aromatic or dye uses. Even standing outside the garden door I could smell the herbs as the scent wafted out.

Geffrye Museum

Ceramics in the City is over now, but the Geffrye Museum and its garden is free to visit and is open Tuesday-Sunday 10-5. On certain days you can visit a restored almshouse – for this you need to book your ticket in advance on the Geffrye Museum website.

Geffrye Museum

12 thoughts on “Ceramics at the Geffrye Museum

  1. Despite living only just up the road from it, I’ve only been to the Geffrye Museum once. I agree it’s a lovely little museum, although I didn’t have such good weather on my visit. In fact, I think it was pouring with rain – far too wet to explore the garden.

    Like

  2. I love the Geffrye. So sad to miss C in the C this year as there were some great exhibitors. I used to work just down the road from the museum and spent many a happy lunchtime there. Thanks for posting, again!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s