Week 7 Response – ACM Visit

What was your favorite object that you saw during our visit?

Pair of Mounted Blue Jars

Material(s): Porcelain and Gilded Bronze mounts

Origin(s): China (porcelain made around 1736 – 45) and France (mounts made around 1745 – 49)

Out of all the ceramics and porcelain wares found in the Trade Gallery in ACM, this pair of jars caught my attention. They commanded my attention due to its large size and highly embellished nature, emanating an aureate element to the jars. Although the jars were mainly made of porcelain, the intricately casted bronze mounts were gilded and attached, to accentuate the jars by complementing the vivid deep blue glaze. 

The jars fuses exemplary skills of the Asian and European components together. The vivid glaze was perfected in the Qianlong 乾隆 reign while the bronze mounts were casted as dragons and produced in Paris during the reign of Louis XV. Perhaps, due to the time period which was during the Rocaille era, this French style for ornamental aesthetics demanded for such exuberance. The Rocaille style was highly influenced by Chinoiserie and the incorporation of Chinese figures. Hence, even if the dragons’ appearances hails from European mythology with its lizard-like depiction with bat-like wings; The use of them seems more Chinese in nature as dragons were highly auspicious creature and used to represent imperial power in Chinese culture. This could reveal the deep appreciation for fine Chinese porcelain and culture in the European courts.

Other than the fusion of cultures that makes this jar so interesting, there is a subtle piece of art hidden within its deep blue glaze. At first it looks like cracks within the glaze but at certain angles of light, it reveals a traditional Chinese landscape painting of trees and mountains etc. It was so intriguing to look at and decipher what these “cracks” actually were and the subtlety of it makes this work of art even more endearing to look at.   


Week 5 Response – Engaging with the Past












Who are some other contemporary artists who use traditional materials, genres, or subject matter from the past? Why are they engaging with the premodern?

Matthew Simmonds has a Bachelor of Art History specialising in art and architecture of the medieval period and is trained as an architectural stone carver. He previously worked on the restoration of several major British national monuments, including Westminster Abbey and the cathedrals of Salisbury and Ely. Later, he developed his own classical ornamental carving style in marble in Pietrasanta, Italy, 

The thought of using marble or stone as a medium would immediately be directed to the Greek marble sculptors from the past. However, Simmonds specialty in marble updates this traditional medium and technique. Moreover, from his past work of restoring cathedrals, his work is mainly inspired by sacred buildings such as baroque basilicas and Ancient Roman temples. These scenes engages with the premodern works of art by adhering and capturing the specific art styles and medium of their time. Thus, by using traditional themes of the past, we understand what sacred buildings are about and what gives significance to a space. Moreover, his work features architecture on a small scale which reminds me of the Mughal miniatures as it depicts artistry and creativity on an intricate level yet in small area of space too. Due to his past work of restoration, his work is mainly inspired by sacred buildings such as baroque basilicas and Ancient Roman temples. 

Simmonds’ principle is to highlight how “Nature overpowers architecture, as if it encases or envelops it”. The beautifully carved interiors alludes to buildings as fossils, carved and trapped inside the rock, therefore, humbling the architecture we once revered as without nature, we would not have such works of art today. By enveloping these scenes with nature through the stone, it creates some sort of balance within nature and the man-made. 

Final Project Free Writing | Group 3 | Armorial Porcelain

Plate with the Arms of the Gyllenborg Family

Material(s): Porcelain 

Origin(s): China around 1755

From all the ceramics and porcelain wares found in the Trade Gallery in ACM, these Armorial porcelain plates caught my attention. Although small in size, the Gyllenborg coat of arms were painted with such attentiveness, capturing the intricate designs of the arms and borders. The elaborate border contrasts against the somewhat simple family crest yet the gold from the gilding accentuates and complements the vivid deep blue colour of the crest. Thus, the highly detailed painting emanates an aureate element to the plate.   

The gilt border uses vegetal forms such as flowers and leaves which come in many variations or perhaps different species native to Sweden. This border encircles an enamelled centre which features a family’s coat of arms. The crest features a golden crown resting atop a vivid deep blue oval suggesting nobility. Within the oval lies a miniature turret with a dark, winged creature posing on top of it. The creature has spikes on its back and claws arching outwards. Enveloping the blue oval, a dark greyish border along with some blue on the left are draped around it. Also, smoky greyish clouds are illustrated surrounding the crest’s bottom and left.

The floral inspired design of the gilt border can be seen in the form or shape of the plate whereby the edges of the plate is curved in an inconsistent yet symmetrical manner. The edges bend and curves in a specific pattern to create and ornate, attention to detail aesthetic.

Week 3 Response – Thoughts on Explorer

Apart from Zheng He and the Arab navigator in Malindi, who else is missing from these Eurocentric narratives?

The Spice Route is also known as the Maritime Silk Road which Vasco Da Gama was credited as being the first European to reach India by sea. Another explorer missing from this Eurocentric narratives are Jorge Álvares and Ferdinand Magellan. Both were Portuguese explorers and the first europeans to reach other parts of Asia by sea during the Age of Discovery.

Jorge Álvares was the first European to land in China near the historic city of Guangzhou in 1513. This connection allowed Portugal to establish trade relations with the Chinese when Afonso de Albuquerque, the Viceroy of the Estado da Índia sent his cousin over.

Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean and to reach the Marianas and then the island of Homonhon in the Philippines in 1521. His expedition was the first to reach the Philippine Archipelago where the native tribes were friendly to them. Magellan later baptised Rajah Humabon of Cebu and his queen which symbolises the Christianisation of the Philippines.