Signs & Wonders thumbnail 1
Signs & Wonders thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 141, The McAulay Gallery

Signs & Wonders

2009 (made)
Place of origin

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

Object details

Object type
TitleSigns & Wonders (assigned by artist)
Materials and techniques
Glazed porcelain and powder-coated aluminium
Brief description
Installation, 425 porcelain pots on red aluminium shelf, 'Signs & Wonders', Edmund de Waal, 2009.
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.
  • Height: 40cm
  • Diameter: 11.64m
  • Circumference: 35.94m
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.)
Credit line
This installation has been made possible thanks to the generosity of
Art Fund
Nicholas and Judith Goodison
Gerard and Sarah Griffin
Blackburn Associates Limited
Mr and Mrs Charles Booth-Clibborn
Object history
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
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.
Bibliographic reference
Glenn Adamson, Alun Graves and Edmund de Waal. Signs & Wonders: Edmund de Waal and the V&A Ceramics Galleries. London: V&A Publishing, 2009.
Accession number

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Record createdFebruary 1, 2011
Record URL
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