Between 1854 and 1989, the Auckland ceramics manufacturer Crown Lynn produced a diverse range of product lines, from ones with mass appeal to more self-consciously modern designs. Crown Lynn is much loved by collectors, many of whom focus on specific aspects of their work. Crown Lynn: Crockery of Distinction explores the company’s history, its innovative design, and its international influence through the interests of collectors.
The backbone of the show is the Richard Quinn Collection, administered by Portage Ceramics Trust. It was amassed, in part, through Quinn’s archaeological exploration of the Crown Lynn factory site following its 1989 demolition. Quinn created a ‘magpie collection’, light on many of Crown Lynn’s crowning glories, but rich in other areas, including industrial objects, production equipment, archival materials, models, and test pieces. A selection from his collection is organised chronologically, offering a loose survey of the company’s output, mapping aesthetic shifts and the sheer breadth of Crown Lynn’s vision over five decades.
Twelve private collections—each focusing on a Crown Lynn process, maker, or story—intersect with the Quinn Collection. There’s Billy Apple’s collection of American designer Dorothy Thorpe’s range. There’s ceramicist John Parker’s incorporation of his major collection of Ernest Shufflebotham’s whiteware into his own practice. And there's Bellamyware, the commissioned Parliamentary range, from the 1970s. Etcetera. Collectively, these criss-crossing collections demonstrate Crown Lynn’s unique contribution to New Zealand society, culture, and design.