Edmund de Waal
|Edmund de Waal|
breathturn, I, 2013
10 September 1964 |
|Education||The King's School, Canterbury
University of Cambridge
University of Sheffield
Windham-Campbell Literature Prize
Edmund Arthur Lowndes de Waal, OBE (born 10 September 1964) is a British artist, and author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, published in 2010. He is most well known for his large scale installations of porcelain vessels and has received several awards and honours for his work.
De Waal was born in Nottingham, England, the son of Esther Aline (née Lowndes-Moir) and Rev. Dr Victor de Waal, who became the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. His grandfather was Hendrik de Waal, a Dutch businessman who moved to England. His grandmother Elisabeth was a member of the Ephrussi family, whose history he chronicled in The Hare with Amber Eyes.. Elisabeth de Waal's first novel, The Exiles Return was published by Persephone Books in 2013. De Waal's siblings include barrister John de Waal, Alex de Waal who is director of the World Peace Foundation, and Caucasus expert Thomas de Waal.
De Waal's interest in pottery began at the age of five when he took an ceramics evening class at the Lincoln School of Art. He was educated at The King's School, Canterbury, where he was taught pottery by the potter Geoffrey Whiting, a student of Bernard Leach.
Education and early career
When he was 17, de Waal began a two-year apprenticeship with Whiting, deferring his entry into University of Cambridge. During the apprenticeship he made hundreds of pots, such as casseroles and honey pots. In 1983, de Waal took up his place at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to read English where he was awarded a scholarship in 1983 and graduated with first class honours in 1986.
Following graduation, de Waal began to follow his dream to create inexpensive domestic pots with good earth-tone colours. He moved to the Welsh borders where he built a kiln and set up a pottery making functional stoneware pots in the Leach tradition, but the enterprise was not successful. In 1989, he moved to inner-city Sheffield and began experimenting with working in porcelain.
In 1990 he obtained a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Scholarship, under which he spent a year obtaining a post-graduate diploma in Japanese language at Sheffield University and continued an additional year's study. Whilst studying in Japan at the Mejiro Ceramics studio he also worked on a monograph of Bernard Leach, researching his papers and journals in the archive room of the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum. During this time he began to make series of porcelain jars with pushed-in, gestural sides, arranged in groups and sequences.
On returning to Britain in 1993, de Waal began living in London and made his distinctive ceramics, porcelain with a celadon glaze. Their shapes were essentially classical but with indentations or pinches and subtle variations in tone and texture. The pots became very fashionable, and in 1995 he had his first of many solo exhibitions.
De Waal's book on Bernard Leach was published in 1998. He described it as "the first 'de-mystifying' study of Leach." "The great myth of Leach," he said, "is that Leach is the great interlocutor for Japan and the East, the person who understood the East, who explained it to us all, brought out the mystery of the East. But in fact the people he was spending time with, and talking to, were very few, highly educated, often Western educated Japanese people, who in themselves had no particular contact with rural, unlettered Japan of peasant craftsman." He noted that Leach did not speak Japanese and had looked at only a narrow range of Japanese ceramics. These opinions attracted criticism from some of Leach's followers.
His work remained broadly within the Anglo-Oriental tradition but he also studied the modernists, and the Bauhaus movement in particular. In visits to Gothic cathedrals as a child de Waal had attended to small spaces within large buildings. While at university he began to consider how his work might help to re-order the interior space of the museums and art galleries he visited. In his current work he has moved away from making single objects to the production of groups of objects to be viewed in relation to openings and spaces. Most of his work consists of cylindrical porcelain pots with pale celadon glazes. He believes that the East and West may meet in porcelain; for example, that there the ethos of China's medieval Song dynasty may encounter the modernist ethos of the Bauhaus.
In 2010 de Waal's family memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes: a Hidden Inheritance, was published, first by Chatto & Windus in the UK and later by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York. In it he retraces the history of his Jewish relatives (from his paternal grandmother) – the wealthy and influential Ephrussi family – through stories about a collection 264 Japanese netsuke that were handed down through the generations and eventually given to de Waal by his great-uncle Ignace "Iggie" Ephrussi, who settled in Tokyo in 1947. The book has received critical acclaim and has won many literary prizes, including the Costa Book Award, the Galaxy New Writer of the Year Book Award and the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize. It has already sold over a million copies and been published in more than 30 languages. Felicity Bryan is de Waal's literary agent.
From 2004 to 2011, de Waal was Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to art. The same year de Waal wrote The Pot Book (Phaidon Press), a colour-illustrated anthology of 300 ceramic vessels.
De Waal has made major installations for Chatsworth, Kettle's Yard, Tate Britain, Fitzwilliam Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2012 de Waal received his first public art commission for the Alison Richard Building at the University of Cambridge where he created a local history, three vitrines filled with porcelain to sit beneath the pavement surrounding the building.  In 2014 de Waal made two further public commissions; a series of towers for the retrochoir at Southwark Cathedral called another hour and, Lichtzwang, a pair of 9ft tall vitrines containing 281 white and cream porcelain vessels, commissioned by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna for the Theseus Temple in the Volksgarten. 
In 2013 he held his debut exhibition in New York at the Gagosian Gallery which he called Atemwende. after a work by the German émigré poet, Paul Celan. This was followed by an exhibition opening at Turner Contemporary in Margate, where de Waal made a series of hanging vitrines filled with porcelain that he named Atmosphere. 
De Waal has spoken about the influence of music on his work, for example in 2010 on the BBC Radio 3 programme Private Passions. In another interview about music that inspires him in his work, he has described how "you can get yourself into the loops of music... I did a huge porcelain wall – 500 porcelain vessels – and there are rhythms in that wall that completely come out of baroque music. More recently there's installations where things are in very minimalist, black lead-lined boxes, 12 of them in a row with the same number of vessels in each but they're arranged in different ways. That's the porcelain equivalent of Steve Reich's systems music! It's the same notes and the same tones repeated and just slightly different each time and it only makes sense if you've got all of it. One of them by itself is just a black box with a few pots in it." The playlist includes Keith Jarrett, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Adams and Franz Schubert.
On 5 November 2013 BBC One broadcast an Imagine documentary following de Waal for a year as he prepared for his exhibition in New York. In 2014 Phaidon Press published a monograph on de Waal's life and work with contributions by A.S. Byatt, Colm Tóibín, Guggenheim curator, Alexandra Munroe and novelist, Peter Carey. 
Major exhibitions and installations
- 2015 wavespeech. A joint exhibition with David Ward. Pier Arts Centre, Orkney
- 2014 Lichtzwang. Theseus Temple, Vienna
- 2014 another hour. Southwark Cathedral, London
- 2014 atmosphere. Turner Contemporary, Margate
- 2013 Atemwende. Gagosian Gallery, New York
- 2013 On White: Porcelain stories from the Fitzwilliam Museum. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
- 2012 a thousand hours. Alan Cristea Gallery, London
- 2012 a local history. Alison Richard Building, University of Cambridge
- 2012 Edmund de Waal at Waddesdon. Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire
- 2010 From Zero. Alan Cristea Gallery, London
- 2009 Signs & Wonders. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- 2007 A Sounding Line. Chatsworth House, Derbyshire.
- 2007 Edmund de Waal at Kettle's Yard, MIMA and elsewhere. Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough
- 2006 Vessel, perhaps. Millgate Museum, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire
- 2005 A line around a shadow. Blackwell, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria
- 2005 Arcanum: mapping 18th-Century European porcelain. National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff
- 2002 A Long Line West. Egg, London
- 2002 Porcelain Room. Geffrye Museum, London
- 1999 Modern Home. High Cross House, Dartington Hall, Devon
Awards and honours
- 2015 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize (Non-Fiction) valued at $150,000
- 2014 Honorary Doctorate, University of Nottingham
- 2014 Honorary Doctorate Canterbury Christ Church University
- 2013 Honorary Doctorate University of the Arts, London
- 2013 Honorary Doctorate of Letters University of Sheffield
- 2012 Senior Fellowship Royal College of Art, London
- 2011 to present, Trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- 2011 Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Service to the Arts
- 2011 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, winner, The Hare with Amber Eyes
- 2011 Costa Book Awards, winner (Biography), The Hare with Amber Eyes
- 2011 Honorary degree from the University for the Creative Arts
- 2009 Honorary Fellow, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge
- 2003 Silver Medal, World Ceramic Exposition, Korea
- 1999–2001 The Leverhulme Trust Special Research Fellowship
- 1998 British Council Award
- 1996 London Arts Board Individual Artists Award
- 1996 Fellow of Royal Society of Arts
- 1991–93 Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Scholarship
- de Waal, Edmund (2015). The White Road. London / New York: Chatto & Windus / Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
- de Waal, Edmund (2011). The Pot Book. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 978-0714847993
- de Waal, Edmund (2010). The Hare with Amber Eyes: a hidden inheritance. London / New York: Chatto & Windus / Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 978-0099539551
- de Waal, Edmund (2007). Rethinking Bernard Leach: Studio Pottery and Contemporary Ceramics, with Kenji Kaneko. Kyoto: Shibunkaku Publishing.
- de Waal, Edmund (2003). 20th Century Ceramics. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0500203712
- de Waal, Edmund (1999). Design Sourcebook: Ceramics. London: New Holland Publishers.
- de Waal, Edmund (1998). Bernard Leach. London: Tate Publishing. 978-1849760430 ISBN 978-1849760430
- atmosphere. Margate, UK: Turner Contemporary. 2014. ISBN 978-1938748011
- Atemwende. New York: Gagosian Gallery. 2013. ISBN 978-1935263852
- a thousand hours. London: Alan Cristea Gallery. 2012.
- Edmund de Waal at Waddesdon Manor. Buckinghamshire: Waddesdon. 2012.
- From Zero. London: Alan Cristea Gallery. 2010.
- Signs & Wonders. London: Victoria & Albert Museum. 2009.
- Edmund de Waal at Kettle’s Yard, MIMA and elsewhere. Cambridge / Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough: Kettle’s Yard. 2007.
- Arcanum: mapping 18th-century European porcelain. Cardiff: National Museums and Galleries of Wales. 2005.
- Edmund de Waal: A line around a shadow. Bowness-on-Windemere: Blackwell House: The Arts & Crafts House. 2005.
- A Secret History of Clay: From Gauguin to Gormley. Liverpool: Tate. 2004.
- Modern Home. Dartington Hall, Devon: High Cross House. 1999.
Critical studies and reviews
- Danicke, Sandra. Mind the Gap, Art - Das Kunstmagazin, June 2015 
- Crichton-Miller, Emma, with contributions from A.S. Byatt, Colm Toibin, Alexandra Munroe, Peter Carey and Deborah Saunt. Edmund de Waal,, Phaidon Press, 2014 ISBN 978-0714867038 - a monograph on Edmund's life and career
- Wullschläger, Jackie. Lunch with the FT: Edmund de Waal, Financial Times, 28 March 2014 
- Enright, Shane. A show that makes all the white noises, Crafts, January/February 2014 
- Kemske, Bonnie. Silence for the ceramic cylinders, The Art Newspaper, 19 December 2013  - a review of de Waal's exhibition, On White at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
- Saunders, Jon. Fragile Histories, Apollo, 6 December 2013 
- Zwick, Tracy. Porcelain Poetry: Edmund de Waal debuts at Gagosian tonight, Art in America, 12 September 2013 
- Vogel, Carol. Poetry Written in Porcelain, The New York Times, 29 August 2013 
- Calkin, Jessamy. Edmund de Waal on his new exhibition: a thousand hours, The Telegraph Magazine, 28 September 2012 
- Ayén, Xavi. De Waal, el hombre que habla con las miniaturas, La Vanguardia, 8 July 2012 
- Schmid, Thomas. Wie man den richtigen Ton Findet', Die Welt, 10 June 2012 
- Rocco, Fiammetta. Edmund de Waal's Unfinished Business, Intelligent Life, January/February 2012 
- Wagner, Erica. Potter's Delight, The Times, 5 November 2011
- Kaiser, Walter. Searching for a Lost World, New York Review of Books, 14 October 2011 
- Cohen, Roger. The Netsuke Survived, The New York Times, 3 September 2011 
- Caeser, Ed. A Surprise Bestseller, The Sunday Times, 23 January 2011
- Lesser, Wendy. Edmund de Waal's Hare, The Threepenny Review, 29 September 2010 
- Dirda, Michael. Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes, The Washington Post, 2 September 2010 
- Dillon, Brian. Inheritance of Loss, The Sunday Telegraph, 27 June 2010 
- Levy, Paul. Europe's Jews, as told by Miniature Japanese Art, The Wall Street Journal, 11 June 2010
- Tusa, John. The John Tusa Interviews: Edmund de Waal, BBC Radio 3, 10 October 2004 
- Cooper, Emmanuel. Hidden Depth: The Ceramics of Edmund de Waal, Ceramic Art and Perception, vol.54, 2003
- British Council
- "Compelling Stories: Jewish Lives Lived". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Interview with John Tusa, BBC Radio 3.
- Interview on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, 19 May 2014.
- Ceramics: Art and Perception, No. 54, 2003.
- Paul Laity (12 February 2011). "Edmund de Waal: A life in arts". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- "Curriculum Vitae for THINK TANK". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- de Waal, Edmund.The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. Vintage, 2011, p. 1. ISBN 978-0-09-953955-1.
- de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes (2011), p. 3.
- "List of solo exhibitions". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- de Waal, Edmund. Bernard Leach. Tate Publishing, 1998. ISBN 978-1-85437-227-7.
- "University of Westminster". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Twentieth Century Ceramics, London, Thames and Hudson, 2003.
- The London Gazette: . 11 June 2011.
- De Waal, Edmund. "The Pot Book". Retrieved 12 April 2014.
- De Waal, Edmund ". CRASSH, July 2015.
- De Waal, Edmund. "Theseus Temple". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- de Waal, Edmund. Atemwende. Gagosian Gallery, 2013. ISBN 978-1935263852.
- De Waal, Edmund. "Turner Contemporary". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- He chose music by Bach, Brian Eno, Britten, Gesualdo, John Adams, Moby, Mozart, Orlando Gibbons.
- "Edmund de Waal chooses the music that inspires him in his work". Phaidon.com, October 2011.
- "http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1561010.ece". TLS.co.uk, July 2015.
- "Prize Citation for Edmund de Waal". Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. 24 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- "UCA awards first round of honorary degrees". University for the Creative Arts. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- de Waal, Edmund (2014). Edmund de Waal. London: Phaidon. ISBN 0714867039.
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