Mrs Delany and Ceramics in the Objectscape

Jo Dahn

  Concluding remarks

It is an extraordinary glimpse of stylish living, but sadly, she did not say what china she chose to complete the effect. As we have seen however, ceramics were significant components of Mrs Delany's objectscape. Early in her life they seemed fashionable and new, and perhaps her interest in them involved emulation. But she did not aspire to the new styles that Wedgwood produced; whatever class-orientated behaviour she engaged in revolved around her membership of a cultural elite that owned and displayed exclusive objects. In my view such materialist interpretations are overshadowed by the wealth of personal meanings that ceramics represented for her. I began this essay by proposing that objects are capable of 'vigilance'; standing witness to that network of other people with whom each individual seeks to interact, and whose understanding and approval is an important factor in the formation of personal and social subjectivity. I have suggested that the objectscape Mrs Delany created can be regarded as a form of self-portrait: a background against which she produced herself. I hope I have shown that within that objectscape particular ceramics were closely related to particular individuals. They stood for her relationships with other women. More than anything, it seems to me, Mrs Delany associated ceramics with cultured feminine community.


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Mrs Delany: biography

Mrs Delany in relation to Wedgwood

Ceramics and feminine subjectivity

Concluding remarks

Mrs Delany and Ceramics in the Objectscape • Issue 1