Boijmans TV Episode 12. Episode Without Name
Jump to excerpt...Duration: 14:56
Mary Servaes Fanclub
In this episode, Bregje guides a group of fans of Mary Servaes (1919-1998) through the museum. She was better known as the Zangeres Zonder Naam and her best known numbers are: Ach vaderlief, toe drink niet meer (1959), and Mexico (1969, 1986).
Hella Jongerius designs everything from tableware and vases to fabrics, chairs and sofas. This is the first time that Jongerius’s entire oeuvre is being exhibited in the Netherlands. ‘Hella Jongerius – Misfit’ offers a unique insight into her working methods, experiments, and innovative products.
Hella Jongerius (1963) is a contemporary industrial designer who is extremely interested in the pre-industrial history of design. She thinks of this history as a field of research and wonders whether what appear to be contradictions are always that in practice. For example, functionality and decoration. Jongerius asks whether it is possible to decorate a vase with embroidery. In the contradiction between products produced in a series and a unique item, she is researching how you can create a handwork imperfection in a dinner service manufactured industrially. The questions themselves are just as important for Hella Jongerius as the answers. What’s more, her research always leads to something. Whether that is a beautiful china stool that you can’t sit on; a table-cloth with china sewn to it; or a dining-table with a frog as uninvited guest, perhaps hoping to be turned into a prince with a kiss.
Hella Jongerius has designed vases in rubber and china vases embroidered with rubber thread. For the home department store Ikea, she designed the PS Jonsberg, a moonstone porcelain vase in three different colours with unusual decorations reminiscent of the East.
This unusual wardrobe was specially designed in 2008 for the new entrance area of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen by Wieki Somers.
The vases by the British ceramist Ken Eastman (1960), which Bregje shows to the Mary Servaes fans, were donated to the museum by a private collector, Petra Verberne. They can be seen until 21 November 2010 in the exhibition Gebrande Aarde [Burned Earth].
The porcelain cabinet in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen is made of black polished wood and a veneer of walnut. It was donated to the collection in 1996. The porcelain that it now contains is from various bequests. On the top shelf there are 7 porcelain figures, representing (from left to right): 1. a seated shepherdess, leaning with her left arm against a tree trunk, with a basket of flowers at her feet. 2. A boy feeding geese. 3. A shepherdess with a green hat and a basket of flowers. She is sitting on a large overturned basket with flowers. 4. A couple drinking; the man (right) is missing his lower left arm. The girl is wearing a hat with a flower and her pinafore is full of flowers. 5. A shepherdess, with a barrel of fish at her feet. She is stirring the barrel with a stick. 6. A boy in a blue, three-quarter length pair of trousers, with a basket of lemons. 7. A girl feeding chickens. The middle shelf has a symmetric arrangement with (from outside in): a round basket made from porcelain, a porcelain jug, and (in the middle) an oval porcelain basket. The lowest shelf has three plates decorated with fruit and flowers; they belong with the porcelain baskets on the middle shelf.
Porcelain was made in China as early as the 8th and 9th centuries. After 1500, Chinese porcelain was imported in Western Europe. Owning porcelain meant prosperity, power, and was an indication of a refined taste. But people in Europe didn’t know how to make porcelain and didn’t have the proper raw materials either. In 1709, however, clay known as kaolin or china clay was discovered near the German city of Meissen. This is a type of earth of fine granite that has been exposed underground to hot volcanic gasses and has thus become extremely white. The German chemist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and his pupil Johan Friedrich Böttger subsequently developed a method of firing. In 1710, King August I of Saxony, himself an enthusiastic collector of Chinese porcelain, founded the Meissen porcelain factory. The history of European porcelain is included in an enjoyable and readable way in the novel Utz by Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989); Utz is about a porcelain collector in Prague; it was also filmed in 1991 by George Sluizer.
In 1773, the sculptor Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1775) was appointed head of the design department of the Meissen porcelain factory. Under this leadership, small figures were made that are still thought to be the most exceptional items ever produced in porcelain. The figures often show scenes of courtship and have not only a charming and often sickly sweet appearance, but also a touch of mischief, a hint of eroticism. Flowers lay in the lap of the shepherdesses and there is a surfeit of fruits and fish. Highlight in Kändler’s career is a series of unpainted animal figures. Kändler’s figures influenced the porcelain production throughout Europe.
In episode 12 of Boijmans TV - the last but one for this season - our guide Bregje takes a group of Zangeres Zonder Naam [Singer Without Name] fans to the applied arts and design department. They don’t like the modern pottery vases as much as the 18th and 19th century porcelain figures of shepherds and shepherdesses. The modern pottery may be good for displaying tulips, but the charming little china scenes do something to you: when you look at them, you feel rich. Mary, their idol, used to collect them as well. In the meantime, security guard Arie has struck up a conversation with Hella Jongerius. She is an internationally acclaimed industrial designer, but she has a problem with standardisation. Her aim is to manufacture products in series, yet give each individual item a unique character. A special decoration, traces of handwork, or a small imperfection makes a person fall in love with an object. And just such a person visits Mandy at the reception desk; a lady who doesn’t really want to part with a cherished family heirloom, but secretly wants to know what it’s worth. Mandy gives a rough estimate.
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