Take a trip to Derby, me old China

Get a handle on the many looks of Crown Derby at the exhibition in the city of Derby, until 30 March 2010

Crown Derby tea service by Salvador Dali

The City of Derby will be showing-off its association with the Spanish surrealist artist, Salvador Dali, during a exhibition at Royal Crown Derby. Royal Crown Derby is the only famous name of English porcelain still manufacturing exclusively in Britain, and is staging, until the end of March, an exhibition: The Art of Royal Crown Derby 1750-2009.

The exhibition celebrates the factory’s long-standing collaboration with many artists, including Salvador Dali, showing ceramics from the last 260 years. Enthusiasts will not be surprised to find works by the flower and rose painter William Billingsley (1758-1828), who is traditionally linked to Royal Crown Derby. But they might be surprised to see porcelain designed by the surrealist Salvador Dali, who collaborated on a little known tea service for the company, in 1937 (pictured).

Central to the exhibition will be The Kedleston Vase, a masterpiece which was commissioned by Lord Scarsdale in the 18th century. This work is remarkable for the collaboration of four different artists, all of whom were confronting problems in their professional career: modeller Jean Jacques Spangler’s stay in Derby was cut short by a spell in prison; James Bamford caused upset for allowing his wife to execute some of his painting, hence breaking the ‘men only’ rule at the factory; Zacharia Boreman was a London landscape painter who came to Derby in search of work in 1783; and William Billingsley, who was also moving from one town to another in search of employment at that time.
Bringing the exhibition up to date are new lines by Ken Eastman, and Peter Ting,­ two renowned, contemporary artists now associated with the company.

Royal Crown Derby, Osmaston Road site, to the end of March. Admission: free but by appointment. Tel: (01332) 712833. Open: Tues-Fri 11am-3pm. For more ideas on what to do and see, and where to stay in Derby, go to www.visitderby.co.uk