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Installation - Signs & Wonders

Signs & Wonders

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    2009 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Waal, Edmund de, born 1964 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glazed porcelain and powder-coated aluminium

  • Credit Line:

    This installation has been made possible thanks to the generosity of
    The Art Fund
    Nicholas and Judith Goodison
    Gerard and Sarah Griffin
    Blackburn Associates Limited
    Mr and Mrs Charles Booth-Clibborn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 141, The McAulay Gallery, case DOME

Physical description

Red powder-coated aluminum channel-like shelf forming a circle, upon which are placed 425 glazed porcelain pots in a variety of forms.

Place of Origin

London (made)


2009 (made)


Waal, Edmund de, born 1964 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Glazed porcelain and powder-coated aluminium

Marks and inscriptions

'Edmund de Waal Signs and Wonders 2009'
Surrounding the V&A logo, printed in blue and red, on transparent adhesive label affixed to each pot.


Height: 40 cm, Diameter: 11.64 m, Circumference: 35.94 m

Object history note

Commissioned for the new V&A Ceramics Galleries, opened in September 2009. The work is site-specific, and is installed in the dome of gallery 141: Contemporary Ceramics.

Artist Statement (for gallery panel):

On a red metal shelf high above you are 425 vessels. The shelf floats above the cornice, away from the dome, so that a mass of porcelain is held in space. The work is called 'Signs & Wonders'.

The vessels are my response to three parts of the V&A ceramics collection: Chinese porcelains, 18th-century European porcelains, and modern pieces from Vienna, Bauhaus and the Constructivists. I'd look hard at some part of the collection, then look away and then make the after-image. It was a kind of distillation.

What is left of a garniture of Sèvres jars when you look away? The sense of formality and poise around the fulcrum of a central vessel, the feeling of variations of colour being carefully played out. I'd make one garniture, and then another, paring down a piece of Sèvres into a few changes of angle and volume.

Elsewhere, haphazard stacks of small bowls are an after-image of the stacks of kiln wasters. A dozen coffee cans and saucers, part of a dinner service and a whole episode of bowls on stands are all made from my recollection of seeing a Song Dynasty bowl held up high on its stand.

'Signs & Wonders' is not an attic space, nor yet a store-room, but is another collection. Another to add to this collection of all collections.

Edmund de Waal, 2009

Descriptive line

Installation, 425 porcelain pots on red aluminium shelf, 'Signs & Wonders', Edmund de Waal, 2009.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Glenn Adamson, Alun Graves and Edmund de Waal. Signs & Wonders: Edmund de Waal and the V&A Ceramics Galleries. London: V&A Publishing, 2009.

Production Note

Most of the pots were thrown and glazed in Edmund de Waal's studio in London. The flat dishes were made by Hartley Greens & Co. at the Leeds Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent, but were subsequently glazed at the artist's studio. The powder-coated aluminium shelf was fabricated by Aspinalls in Heysham, Lancashire.


Porcelain; Aluminium


Ceramics; Studio Pottery


Ceramics Collection

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