Celebrated ceramicist inspired by Williamson now has his own exhibit

15 December 2023
Jacob Chan with his own 'foo dog' exhibit
Jacob Chan with his own 'foo dog' exhibit

Williamson Art Gallery and Museum has commissioned a brand new work by ceramicist Jacob Chan as the latest addition to the Williamson’s permanent collections.

Chan’s ‘Foo Dog’ takes inspiration from a duo of existing foo dogs in the Williamson collections as well his memories, discoveries and experiences of visits to the museum.

The Williamson has defined my journey as a ceramicist as I have been influenced by the permanent collections and countless shows and exhibitions that have been on display over the decades. I'm honoured to now have a piece in their collection. The piece I have made is a combination of my memories and a nod to the existing collection of works displayed throughout the gallery and hidden in the archives beneath.

Artist Jacob Chan

Made from stoneware and soda fired to 1,300 degrees Celsius, Chan’s new foo dog has been created from using sections of individually thrown ginger jars, which have been cut up and pieced back together to create the shape and form of this mythical creature.

Its design pays homage to personal experiences Chan has had at the Williamson over the years. The base that it sits on displays an entwining story of decals, including homages to events such as the Oxton Art Fair and patterns from the Della Robbia Pottery Collection which, he says, always captured his curiosity and been an influential factor in his journey as a ceramicist. 

The dog’s fan-tail takes inspiration from deeper exploration of the Williamson’s collections and archives. On one research visit, Chan came across a collection of beautifully decorated and carved fans. Made of porcelain, decorated with decals and gilded with 24k gold leaf, the tail incorporates their designs and patterns, as a nod to the craft and skill involved.

The acquisition was made possible with support of a grant from The Arts Society Wirral, 2023

Foo dogs have often been used as an idol at the entrance of buildings and homes in China to ward off evil spirits. In keeping with this traditional role, Chan’s new piece is currently being displayed in the Williamson’s Foyer. It sits alongside a curated selection of Chan’s other pottery, which is available to purchase.

The artwork is currently on display in the foyer of Williamson Art Gallery.

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