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February 28, 2011 | by  | in Visual Arts | [ssba]

Crown Lynn Exhibition

The new featured exhibit at the Wellington City Gallery is based on the now deceased New Zealand ceramics company Crown Lynn. The name meant nothing to me before visiting this exhibit, but once I was surrounded by their wares I was shocked by how intensely familiar it all felt. The Crown Lynn crockery exhibit seemed to me like a long walk down several memory lanes. I was constantly spotting jugs, cups and plates that were to me synonymous with grandparents, baches, and increasingly, small hipster cafes. I went into this exhibit apprehensively, unsure how fascinating a parade of plates could be. I was pleasantly surprised then to find myself fascinated by the detail that had gone into the production of a range of items, which were intrinsically part of our lives as 21st century New Zealanders: microwaveable jugs, celebratory jubilee plates and simple but charming teacups all crafted with painstaking attention to detail.

While the objects themselves were interesting, it was mainly the emotional response in me that was the true indicator of how important this show is. Crown Lynn is a New Zealand company; it is a brand with which we often identify on a daily basis without even realizing it. The beauty of this exhibit is that it places the focus on the crockery in a gallery environment, forcing the viewer to look at a cross hatch design plate as an object with its own worth as opposed to a receptacle for a lazy afternoon sandwich. This exhibit felt to me like it was very much a part of the continuing quest to discover what our cultural identity as New Zealanders might be. While intellectual artists and musicians labor over the task of creating works that could define us culturally, a family-based crockery business in Auckland seems to have been doing their job for them.

This new exhibit is really worth seeing, even from just a nostalgic viewpoint, and for $4 it’s an absolute steal. As always the rest of the City Gallery is free and there are a whole host of new displays of contemporary New Zealand artists filling its halls.


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