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World famous Delft Blue takes inspiration from Chinese porcelain

By Shi Xiaofeng in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-26 07:56

World famous Delft Blue takes inspiration from Chinese porcelain

A visitor tries to take a selfie with a Delft Blue exhibit at the Jingdezhen International Ceramics Fair held last week. Shi Xiaofeng / China Daily

The 400-year history of ceramics exchange between Jingdezhen and the Dutch city of Delft has a modern ambassador in artist Adriaan Rees, whose Blue Revolution series of shows highlight the unique connection between the two masters of the clay.

Jingdezhen is a world-famous ceramics capital in East China's Jiangxi province with a 1,000-year ceramics making history and a rich cultural heritage.

Delft, a pretty town north of Rotterdam and south of the The Hague, is famous for its Delft Blue earthenware, which it has produced since the 17th century.

Rees is an enthusiastic bridge between the two.

He recently attended the renowned Jingdezhen International Ceramics Fair for the 12th time. This year's fair, held last week, attracted ceramic companies from around the world. At the fair's Delft booth, he watched the crowds clamor for a look and a photo of the contemporary Delft Blueware.

"I want to show the world in Jingdezhen that the Delft Blueware and Jingdezhen porcelain have been very much connected for 400 years," said Rees, a sculptor, ceramist and art show curator who lives part-time in the Netherlands and part-time in China.

Rees visited China for the first time 14 years ago. Among all the places he visited, Jingdezhen's historical importance, its current dynamics and the endless possibilities for ceramics making impressed him the most and "changed my life completely".

Delft Blue ceramics are known worldwide and are promoted as a typical Dutch product. However, the first Delft Blue ceramics were an ordinary copy of the traditional blue and white porcelain crafted in Jingdezhen. The Dutch East India Co had a lively trade with China and in the 17th century it imported millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain. With the Jingdezhen porcelain as a model, Dutch ceramic artists created their own unique ceramics.

Delft Blue was not made from typical porcelain clay, but from clay that was coated with a tin glaze after it was fired. Delft Blue achieved unrivaled popularity, and at its peak, there were 33 factories in Delft. Of these, the only one remaining today is Royal Delft, which still produces high-end works favored by collectors and the Dutch royal family.

In 2006, at the request of the Jingdezhen government, Rees helped initiate contact with Delft officials. It led to an exchange between artists, designers and museums.

To promote Delft Blue history and culture, Rees organized three Blue Revolution shows at the Museum Prinsenhof in Delft, the Imperial Porcelain Museum in Jingdezhen and the Yuan Chonghuan Memorial Park Museum in Dongguan, a southern Chinese city near Hong Kong.

"Those shows gave thousands of people in China and the Netherlands an exciting and deeper view into the importance of the exchange of arts, knowledge and trade in the past and present of Delft and Jingdezhen, the Netherlands and China, the East and the West," he said.

Rees, who has his own studio in Jingdezhen, continues to strategically offer high-end handmade Delft Blueware to the Chinese market. "I hope the generations in the future will benefit from it," he said.

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