Brother Thomas, Large Globular Vase, detail


Monday, 20 September 2010 to Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Although pottery is one of the most ancient arts, achieving a brilliant red glaze remains an elusive goal for many who work with clay. The objects shown in Red have achieved their use of the colour through various means.

Ceramic glaze is fairly straightforward. Silica is fired at a high temperature to form glass and, in combination with various mixtures of metal oxides, it produces an array of colours. Red glaze, however, is sensitive to the amount of oxygen in the kiln so firing red glazes can be tricky as they interfere with other colours.

Red glazes were found during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) but the secrets to these glazes disappeared. Ceramists around the world experimented with mixing their own glazes from scratch with varying degrees of success. Even now, every ceramist has his or her own recipes or secrets to success.