Memory Vessels by Bouke de Vries

Memory Vessels by Bouke de Vries

The Memory Vessels by Bouke de Vries are an ongoing series by the Utrecht-born artist and former ceramics conservator.

Bouke de Vries Memory Vessels

Memory vessel jardinier
Memory vessel jardiniere, 2018, 18th century Delft jardiniere and glass, diam. 340×420 mm

With degrees from the Central School of Art in London and the Design Academy in Eindhoven, de Vries first began working in fashion before he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College. In his practice as a private conservator he was faced with issues and contradictions around perfection and worth. The concept of “condition” and how a once valuable object can be deemed virtually worthless when damaged with as little as a hairline crack, led to his artistic ethos ‘beauty of destruction.’

chinese porcelain
Memory vessel pair 8, 2019, 18th century Qin Chinese porcelain and glass Diam. 225×590 mm

He found that even when an object is worth restoring, some owners prefer to hide the damage as much as possible, to deny the evidence of what was probably the most dramatic episode in the life of the piece.

memroy vessels bouke de vries
Memory vessel 50, 2017, Late 18th century Chinese famille vert (Qing dynasty) porcelain vase and glass Diam. 225×465 mm

Now Bouke de Vries has chosen to de-construct ceramics as opposed to once reconstructing them. His Memory Vessels consist of shards of 17th, 18th and 19th century Asian, European and Delft pottery, porcelain and earthenware pieces  enclosed in glass urns, ginger jars, pitchers and vases. The results are works of art that celebrate the new status of the original piece, accentuating its flaws and damage.

pottery shards in glass containers
Memory vessel 58, 2018, 17th century Chinese Kang-Xi Famille vert porcelain, glass and kinsugi, diam. 280×410 mm
contemporary utrecht artist
Memory vessel, 2016, 44 Early 17th century Italian earthen ware Majolica (Rome) drugjar and glass 330x270x387 mm
memory vessels
Memory vessel 47, 2017, 18th century Japanese Imari porcelain vase and glass Diam 420 x 850 mm
chinese porcelain
Memory vessel 45, 2017 early 19th century Chinese Qing dynasty porcelain and glass Diam 230×435 mm
moroccan earthenware
Memory vessel 51, 2017, 19th century Moroccan earthenware vase and cover and glass Diam. 300×680 mm

“Where even an almost invisible hairline crack, a tiny rim chip or a broken finger render a once-valuable object pratically worthless, literally not worth the cost of restoring. There’s something incongruous about the fact that such an object, although still imbued with all the skills it took to make it – be it first-period Worcester, Kang-xi or Sevres – can so easily be consigned to the dustbin of history.” – Bourke de Vries

bouke de vries ewers
Memory vessel, chained ewers, 2020, 17th century Japanese ewers, glass and gold chain and cuffs, 195x125x105 mm
contemporary ceramics
Memory vessel with wax seals, 2020, 18th century Chinese porcelain (Qing dynasty), glass and mixed media Diam. 235x460mm
bouke de vries pottery
Memory vessel graded drug jars, 2020 18th century delft drug jars and mixed media

See more of the artist’s work here