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Case study--The contemporary reinterpretation of willow pattern

Research for the willow pattern

The Tale behind the Willow Pattern

Long ago, in the days when China was ruled by emperors, a Chinese manderin, Tso Ling, lived in the magnificent pagoda under the branches of the apple tree on the right of the bridge, over which droops the famous willow tree, and in front of which is seen the graceful lines of the fence. Tso Ling was the father of a beautiful girl, Kwang-se, who was the promised bride of an old but wealthy merchant. The girl, however, fell in love with Chang, her father’s clerk. The lovers eloped across the sea to the cottage on the island. The mandarin pursued and caught the lovers and was about to have them killed when the gods transformed them into a pair of turtle doves. These are seen gazing into each other’s eyes at the top of the design.

This signed and numbered print on stretched canvas comes with a blue willow tea cup and the blue willow story.


2. Don Moyer--“Calamityware” series

Don Moyer’s “Calamityware” series, he manages to do something new by using porcelain plates as canvases for his fantasies about hypothetical catastrophic scenarios and the end of the world.

The plates look absurd and trust-worthy at the same time. When you look from afar, the blue patterned porcelain plates look traditional and painfully ordinary. Yet the crazy, futuristic, and fantastic scenarios come to life when you look from up close. “Too many plates have been too boring for too long,” protests Moyer, wittily encouraging us to “mock tradition”.

Robert Dawson(1996), Can you walk from the garden, does your heart understand

3. Olly Moss--8-Bit Willow

UK-based artist Olly Moss designed these awesome bone china plates combining the Willow pattern with graphics from classic Game Boy versions of the Legend of Zelda and Pokémon games. He calls this geektastic style 8-Bit Willow.

4. Robert Dawson--Spin

Robert Dawson--Can you walk from the garden, does your heart understand

Robert Dawson speculates that life would be unbearable without the vulnerability engendered by its inherent uncertainties and mysteries. He likes to focus on the disconcerting, uncertain element and his body of work can be summed up, in his own words, as “aesthetic sabotage.”

Most of his work reflects considerations pertaining to the nature of the decorated surface. However, the artist does not manifest a desire to break with the past. Instead, he proposes to re-examine the past, preserving emotional distance by resorting to anamorphosis and deformation of the motif.

5. Gésine Hackenberg, Delft Blue ‘Plooischotel’ Necklace

The piece reminds us of how intimate our physical relationship is with everyday items like the tableware, serving dishes and cups that we wash, drink from and handle daily.” Objects of daily use often become intimately important and indispensable to people,” Hackenberg explains. “What one keeps and owns often contains an emotional value next to its practical function or worth.”

All in all, I find these cases reinterpret willow pattern by changing the size of pattern, cutting the objects or substituting the content with contemporary popular pattern. All of the way create a contrast effect. Some seems to said to audience: Look closely, these aren’t your grandmother’s Willow pattern plates. Willow pattern is so successful and typical that many artists like to reinterpret it to many different versions. It gives people historical and narrative feeling.

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Self-Question for my work

Why do you use porcelain as medium? Porcelain as camera, canvas Why the shape of works are bowls and cups? 1. The most simple and classical container. 2. The most common objects in life. People will d

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