I enjoy reading and I thought I would share with you what I am currently reading. The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund de Waal is part history and part biography. Written by famed potter de Waal, the book explores the history of porcelain, the medium the potter is best known for working with.
The book is a treat for those who have done primary research and de Waal takes us through a literary adventure of his own “obsession” or research process. Peppered throughout the book are images, such as the one below. I am learning so much about not only the various histories of the medium but also about de Waal’s own commitment to porcelain and his career.
I first encountered de Waal’s writing with his book The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. This book was spellbinding to me and I highly recommend it. Another book based on biography and history, The Hare with Amber Eyes traces de Waal’s inheritance of a collection of netsuke tracing back the ownership of this collection to his great, great-uncle Charles Ephrussi, an art critic and friend to many of the Impressionist painters in Paris. The journey of the netsuke takes de Waal all-over Europe and finally to Japan, where the tiny sculptures had originated.
Both books have a sense of loss that is tied to the intersection of history and lived experience, that I appreciate. Material culture comes alive in de Waal’s books and the narratives he weaves around common (or uncommon) artifacts.