Beijing, 6 September 2012

I intimated in my last post, on the exhibition “Passion for Porcelain”, that the exhibition’s coda reduced the rest of the exhibition to nothing. In the main, the final pieces were from earlier periods.  I was especially entranced by two pieces, made during the Northern Song dynasty, 960-1127 AD.


Look at them: such pure shapes, so simple, so harmonious, … so modern! And look at the glazing, one colour but with subtly different shadings, and in the case of the flask with craquelure enhancing the overall effect.

I was so taken by these pieces that I was moved to work my way through my copy of the book “Chinese Ceramics” by He Li (ed. Thames & Hudson, 2006)  and study all the pieces from this period. Here is a sampling, in no particular order




Now look at those dates again: 960-1127 AD.  These pieces were made when William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson were fighting it out in the Battle of Hastings!

And this is the pottery they were making …

Truly, Chinese ceramics are awesome.

Bayeux tapestry picture:
Norman pottery picture:
The V&A and British Museum pictures are from the website of the National Museum of China

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I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg


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