Sunday, October 3, 2010

The IAC Pre-tour continues in the Limoges region

The Limoges area is famous for its porcelain. In 1768, a source for high quality kaolin was discovered and set the gears in motion for world famous porcelain factories to settle in the region. Even today, the area supplies many other factories in Europe with high quality materials as well.

The first factory we visited was that of Royal Limoges. Production is slowly dwindling at this factory, which does not seem to be able to compete with more state of the art factories. The Bernardaud Porcelain factory was bustling in comparison, the quality of its product far superior. We had an excellent factory tour and their museum had an exciting show of contemporary work in porcelain. We had a lovely lunch at the factory restaurant.

Our next stop was the Cerlase Company who is making equipment for state of the art laser sintering (glazing). Yes, a laser is used to “fire” the china paint design on to the ceramic piece, eliminating a third firing. I have followed up on this technique and I am awaiting samples to try in the UF Fab Lab. Very exciting technology!

There was an academic side to the program when we went to the National Academy of Art in Limoges and listened to colleagues talk about the current state of ceramics education at their institutions. Tapio Yli Viikari from Finland is going through major curricular changes at his university that hold a good deal of promise. Torbjorn Kvasbo from Norway , Daphne Corregan, Monaco, Jim Romberg, USA and Bastiene Kramer, France all spoke to contemporary issues.

We visited the Musee National Adrien Doubouche with historical collection of ceramics, including porcelain produced in the Limoges region. The Director of the Museum, Chantal Meslin, then walked us over to an exhibition hall, which had a wonderful show she curated with an interesting theme. She partnered with 12 ceramics museum in ceramics cities around the world, many of which I have had the privilege of visiting such as Jingdezhen, China, Icheon, South Korea, Stoke-on-Trent, England and Faenza, Italy. The show connected these 12 cities with commonalities in technique, form and decoration. The show was beautifully displayed and made its point well. Her tour was most informative.

On the last day, with a stop at an old brick and tile factory now a residency center on the way, we traveled to Paris for the IAC Assembly that would start the next day.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jacques Kaufmann who was out “fearless” leader and besides organizing the trip and making sure things happened as they should, he made sure we were all on the bus when leaving!