Christine-Ann Richards, Guided Tour to China

20 May 2003

Press release: Christine-Ann Richards, Guided Tour to China. Celebrate: 25th Anniversary of 1st Craft Potters Association Trip to China & 1,000 years of Porcelain Production in Jingdezhen Spring 2003

20 May - 14 June 2003

Join us in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Craft Potters Association first visit to China in 1978.

The visit will include:
Workshops, Participation, Demonstrations and Visits to Contemporary potters, museums and kiln sites

Travelling overland through central China to:
Jingdezhen (porcelain), Xian (northern celadons & the terracotta army),
The centres of Jun and Cizhou ware production
Beijing, The Forbidden City and the Great Wall

Jingdezhen, the home of porcelain, is itself celebrating more than 1,000 years of porcelain production. Known throughout the world not only for its blue and white wares but also for the beautiful ch'ing-pai (ying-ching) porcelains of the Song Dynasty.

Although I have visited Jingdezhen several times since then, most of my trips have had a greater emphasis on archaeology as little appeared to be happening on the contemporary front. I was very excited on my last visit there four years ago to see an exhibition of students from the local ceramic art college and hear about the beginnings of the Jingdezhen Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute which is now host, not only to local students, but also international potters as well.

It is there that we shall spend our first week visiting studios, participating in demonstrations and workshops and sharing in the life of the local potters. One of the high points of an earlier visit of mine, and scheduled for this trip, was a visit to the ancient town of Yao Li, walking past the rice fields and climbing up into the hills to visit the old clay mine of Gaoling (kaolin) Mountain.

An early departure from Jingdezhen, half-way through our journey, will take us westwards through ever changing scenery towards Jiujiang where we cross Poyang Hu, one of the largest inland lakes in China, and where it flows into the Chang Jiang (Yangtse River) which we then follow all the way to Wuhan. An overnight train will take us to Xian, home of the terracotta warriors and visits to the Yaozhou kilns and museum, where the northern celadons also of the Song/Jin/Yuan Dynasties, were produced. A visit to Chenlu in 1985, was the first by a foreign group and it is still extremely difficult to visit. At that time they were producing some celadons but mainly a blue and white folk decorated ware on a under-glaze white slip.

Travelling eastwards along the Huang He (Yellow River) valley emphasises the change in scenery from the lush rice fields and green vegetation of the south to the sandy loess plateau which stretches north from Xian towards Mongolia. Windswept brush and trees somehow manage to cling to the soil. Terraces are chiselled out of the soil for cultivation and many houses are cut out of the surrounding loess, which provide for coolness and shade in the summer and a warm, sheltered home in winter.

Both Wuhan and Zhengzhou are maritime crossroads, being situated on the two major rivers, which from earliest times were the main method of transportation from the interior of China to its coastal regions. The Grand Canal linked these with other subsidiary canals and rivers as at Jingdezhen. Zhengzhou today is the crossroads for the rail network linking the northern capital, Beijing with the southern capital, Guangzhou (Canton).

Here three and half thousand years ago was a capital of the Shang Dynasty. A walled city with some houses cut out, as they still are today, from the loess. Excavation from settlements outside the walled area have shown that pottery, metalwork, textiles as well as wine were produced. The Provincial Museum has an important bronze and ceramic collection, including if I remember rightly the most stunning collection of Han Dynasty houses.

South-west of Zhengzhou lies the village of Sheng Ho, where chun wares are still produced today. Chun wares were produced over a wide area and are closely linked to the Northern Celadon and the Ru kilns.

On my first visit to Handan with Rose Kerr, from the Victoria and Albert Museum, we discovered that some of the early kilns lie close by those still in production today. The various styles of Cizhou wares produced today still illustrate the techniques used by the early potters including scraffiato, painted, painted and incised, rouletted and cut- glazed type as well as the polychrome lead glazed wares.

A morning train draws us towards the end of our journey to Beijing. In visiting the Forbidden City do not miss the side halls with their collection of ceramics and paintings. The Great Wall, the antique market full of pots and paintings both contemporary and old - sometimes difficult to distinguish, the Beijing Opera and Beijing Duck Farewell Party will bring to an end - perhaps new beginnings - an incredible journey of shared experiences and knowledge exchanged.

Facts:
DATE: 20 May - 14 June 2003
COST: Approx. 2,800
LAND PRICE: (not including international flights) 2,200
Note: A few under-graduated scholarships of US$1,000 (Approx.700) are available.

Contacts:
See Christine-Ann Richards contact details on this site. Click Here
email: mail@christineannrichards.co.uk
Web-site: www.christineannrichards.co.uk/china/jingdezhen (for more information and booking)

Please say that you saw the information on Studiopottery.co.uk website, when asking for more information.