The Christmas recess period always provides me the welcome opportunity to visit local attractions. This year my wife and I enjoyed as fascinating visit to the Nantgarw China Works and museum at Ty Gwyn, Nantgarw.
During our visit we learnt the intriguing history of, how in the early 1800s, porcelain painter and manufacturer William Billingsley perfected a new porcelain recipe by including ingredients known only to himself, which resulted in the Nantgarw works producing some of the finest porcelain ever made. The factory has led a chequered history with a 10 year closure in 1823, and a further closure in 1920.
Nantgarw China Works Trust set out on an ambitious venture to try and recreate the famous Nantgarw porcelain recipe, supported by Arts Council funding and the Trust’s own innovative Crowdfunding campaign.
Now, through a combination of methodical historic research, forensic analysis of shards and experimentation, a team based at Nantgarw China Works Museum has managed to recreate the original recipe, which remained secret for 200 years, and successfully fire new work from Nantgarw Porcelain.
The Nantgarw China Works is the only surviving early 19th century porcelain works in the United Kingdom. It is now active in encouraging, supporting and promoting contemporary artists working with ceramics, providing studio space and facilities to outstanding ceramicists all of whom create, fire and exhibit new work on the premises. All artists actively pass on their skills to both adults and children through regular workshops at China Works.
The Trust has started looking at possible contemporary ceramicists who it could commission to make new work from the Nantgarw porcelain. The resultant work would then form the basis of a touring exhibition, most likely in 2019.
Examples of the new porcelain can be seen in a small exhibition at Nantgarw China Works Museum, which was there until the end of January.
I was delighted to be able to become a member of the Nantgarw China Works Trust on my visit and I would encourage readers to also pay a visit to the museum. Further information including opening hours can be found at: http://nantgarwchinaworksmuseum.co.uk/visit/plan-your-visit/