Take time out for a talk about teapots

17 November 2010

A short talk on the history of tea drinking followed by a look at a variety of teapots on display at Aberdeen Art Gallery will take place at 12.30pm on Wednesday 24 November.

A short talk on the history of tea drinking followed by a look at a variety of teapots on display at Aberdeen Art Gallery will take place at 12.30pm on Wednesday 24 November.

Gallery curator Kate Gillespie will use the eclectic group of teapots from the City's Collection to illustrate the development of the teapot, highlighting changing tastes in the shape and decoration of the vessel.

In the 18th century tea drinking became an increasingly important social custom in Scotland, some 50 years after Samuel Pepys tasted his first cup of tea in 1660. The teapot took pride of place and Scottish silversmiths rose to the challenge with some spectacular examples of craftsmanship, coining their own bullet form teapots which had round, almost spherical bodies, in marked contrast to the English pear shaped pots.

The earliest example on display is the teapot by Aberdeen silversmith George Robertson which dates from 1708-1727.

Prior to this, Chinese porcelain teapots were imported to Britain, packed inside chests of tea. These pots were made from hard-paste porcelain which, being more durable than soft-paste porcelain stood up well to being filled with boiling water.

While the German factory Meissen, who developed the first European hard-paste material in 1710, specialised in manufacturing fine tea wares, the early French soft-paste porcelain factories focussed instead on decorative objects. Soon after English factories copied the vessels produced at Meissen but as the century progressed new materials and styles were developed. In the 1760s Wedgwood produced black basalt ware for a sophisticated and affluent market.

During the 20th century modern teapots were designed and made primarily in pottery and metal, rather than porcelain. Makers not only experimented with their materials, exploiting new techniques to create interesting finishes, but also with form.

Curator Kate Gillespie said: "Today teapots continue to be made as functional objects but are increasingly chosen by contemporary makers as a means of artistic expression."

This is a standing talk, seating will not be available. No booking is required.