Ceramic Treasures for the Enjoyment of Tea

Ceramics and utensils at Galerie Metzger
by Ulrike Kropp

Tea began as medicine and grew into
a beverage“, writes Okakura in his
Book of Tea – „ … and what a beverage!“
one is inclined to add – of great value in
the truest sense. When tea came to Europe
in around 1600 and was exclusively a preserve
of the wealthy, and when the American
independence movement began with
a protest against excessive taxes on tea, it
also had political force. But even today, it is
still a very special beverage.
No other drink is celebrated like tea. The
Japanese tea ceremony with the perfected
aestheticisation of the surrounding space,
sound, posture and movement is the most
visible realisation of tea drinking as a Gesamtkunstwerk.
Purity, inner calm, harmony,
balance – English afternoon tea and
tea with milk and rock candy in East Frisia,
Northern Germany, and in recent times
the conscious enjoyment of high quality
black, green or white tea also pursue this
aim. People take time to drink tea, relax and
enjoy the moment.
It is wonderful when the cup from which
the tea is drunk sits snugly in the hand that
encircles it, enhances the colour and aroma
of the tea and when the rim provides a
pleasant sensation on the lips.
Exquisite teabowls of this kind as well as
tea caddies, water jars, vases for the niche
in the tea room for the tea ceremony are on
display from 23 October – 13 November
at Galerie Metzger in Johannesberg,
near Frankfurt am Main, Germany, to
celebrate its twentieth anniversary. The
exhibition is an invitation to pause,
to wonder, to enjoy and to relax. The
treasures for the enjoyment of tea are
reflected in the beauty of the ceramics.
With Uwe Löllmann and Sebastian
Scheid from Germany, Peter Callas from
the USA, Laetitia and Emmanuel Pineda
from France and Yoshiji Onuki from Japan,
the exhibition covers a broad spectrum
and shows various approached to
tea ceramics. The primal force of fire in
an anagama kiln plays a vital part, leaving
brilliant marks from the kiln in the natural
ash glazes on the surfaces of the ceramics.
An unpredictable, aesthetic mystery.
Whether the ceramists experiment with
various clay bodies, sculpt boldly from solid
blocks of clay or explore the subtleties of
surface texture, what they have in common
is the search for refinement and the highest
possible quality.
Jérémie Logaey’s black-and-white photographs
accompany the exhibits and show
ceramists in their studios. They also give an
insight into the tea ceremony.
In conclusion, a further quote from
Okakura: "Tea is a work of art and needs
a master hand to bring out its noblest qualities.“ The ceramics on show at Galerie
Metzger pay respect to tea for they are truly
from a master hand.