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Much-Loved Crown Lynn Ceramics on Display in New Exhibition

19 October 2011

Much-Loved Crown Lynn Ceramics on Display in New Exhibition

For more than half a century, Crown Lynn ceramics have held a central place in the hearts and on the dinner tables of New Zealanders. Today, more than 20 years after Crown Lynn Potteries closed its factory in New Lynn, Auckland, Crown Lynn ceramics continue to capture the imagination of professional collectors and pottery fans alike.

A forthcoming exhibition at The University of Auckland’s Gus Fisher Gallery explores our obsession with this classic kiwiana brand that was once the southern hemisphere’s biggest pottery producer. Crown Lynn: Pottery for the People focuses on nine different personal collections spanning tableware and hand-potted vases to production equipment.

The diversity of the exhibition is testament to the many faces of Crown Lynn, and is in itself a source of fascination to collectors—many of whom pay large sums for second-hand crockery that was once ubiquitous throughout the country. Artists and designers also pay homage with their own new designs. The exhibition offers a snapshot of New Zealand’s industrial aspirations, as evidenced by designs such as the internationally-influenced swans and Dorothy Thorpe’s idiosyncratic ball handles. Most importantly, the exhibition focuses on what Crown Lynn now means to generations of New Zealanders, whether it was first encountered at the factory, on the dinner table, in second-hand shops, online or in the glossy pages of an auction catalogue.

“It is exciting to host an exhibition that both showcases some of New Zealand’s best-known ceramics and helps ensure our love affair with Crown Lynn continues. The global enthusiasm that exists for a company that began as a brick and pipe factory is quite remarkable,” says Professor Jenny Dixon, Dean of the University’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries.

The collections in Crown Lynn: Pottery for the People comprise Juliet Collins’ Bohemia Ware by Mirek Smisek, Alison Reid’s Colourglaze, Billy Apple’s Dorothy Thorpe, Brian Ronson’s collections of Frank Carpay and Wharetana ware, Mary Morrison’s Fiesta ware, elements from the Clark’s family collection, John Parker’s Whiteware that responds to designs by Keith Murray and Ernest Shufflebotham (aka Shufflebottom), and a selection from the vast archive assembled by Richard Quinn, including items rescued from the Crown Lynn factory sites; these items are now administered by the Portage Ceramics Trust.

Crown Lynn emerged within the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company Ltd, which produced the bricks for the Kenneth Myers Centre when it was built as a broadcasting centre in 1934. Tom Clark, great-grandson of the pottery’s original founder, established a fledgling Porcelain Specialties Department (Ambrico) in the late 1930’s, re-branded in the 1940s as Crown Lynn. He placed David Jenkin, a recently recruited Elam School of Fine Arts graduate, in charge of the new design department. David Jenkin remained in that role for more than 30 years, overseeing the development of new product lines with local and international designers including Frank Carpay, Ernest Shufflebotham and Dorothy Thorpe.

Crown Lynn: Pottery for the People will be mounted from 4 November 2011 – 14 January 2012 at the Gus Fisher Gallery (74 Shortland St). The show is based on Crown Lynn: Crockery of Distinction, a City Gallery Wellington exhibition.


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