Published: April 17, 2001
Wedgwood Fairyland and Other Lustres in Long Beach
LONG BEACH, CALIF. – From May 6 to September 9, the Long Beach Museum of Art will host a exhibition of decorative ceramics made by the Wedgwood Company in the early Twentieth Century.
“Imps on a Bridge: Wedgwood Fairyland and Other Lustres” surveys Wedgwood lusterware production over a 125-year period, 1815 to 1940. Featured in the exhibition is the work of Twentieth Century designer Daisy Makeig-Jones, gifted artist whose work celebrates story-telling and make-believe, through the use of fanciful images, brilliant colors, and imaginative detail.
While Makeig-Jones produced a diverse array of so-called ordinary lusterware depicting humming birds, fish, dragons, and butterflies, her most stunning designs produced between 1915 and 1930 featured fanciful depictions of fairies, dwarfs, imps, and elves. Titles of works such as “Imps on a Bridge,” “Elves on a Branch,” and “Old Woman Complaining to Sultan Sanjar” suggest the range of subjects emerging from the inventive imagination of designer Daisy Makeig-Jones. In fact, the works are the very opposite of the ceramics for which the Wedgwood Company is famous – classically-inspired, unglazed pieces (called Jasper) that were produced in blue, sage-green, lilac, and black, often decorated with white jasper relief.
In “Imps on a Bridge,” the artistry of Daisy Makeig-Jones is seen both in the elaborate designs she created and in their artful and technically masterful execution. Much of her work was based on illustrations from popular children’s books of the time, but she was also known to accompany her work by fascinating written tales of her own. From an historic perspective, Wedgwood Fairyland foreshadows the popularity of cartoon animation done by such artists as Walt Disney in productions like Fantasia.
The exhibition also includes examples of earlier lusterware dating back to 1815, as well as examples of Twentieth Century lusterware by several other designers. The museum’s largest galleries will be given over to this exhibition.
“Imps on a Bridge,” curated by museum director Hal Nelson, is the first museum exhibition on this topic to be presented in the United States. All of the approximately 70 works are from Southern California collections.
The Long Beach Museum of Art is located at 2300 East Ocean Blvd. In Long Beach. Hours are 11 am to 7 pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults; $4 for students and seniors; free for children under 12 and for everyone the first Friday of every month. The Museum’s recently-expanded bluff-top campus overlooks the Pacific Ocean and features a store, a café, and free parking. For more information, call 562-439-2119 or www.lbma.org
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