A FASCINATING new exhibition of porcelain, called Fractures: Texture and Fragility in Modern Ceramics, opened at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery this week.

Porcelain is used to create some of the world’s most beautiful, versatile and fragile ceramics. It has traditionally been used to make the finest dinner and tea services as it can be richly decorated and withstand high temperatures, but it can also be used to make far less traditional forms.

This exhibition explores the use of porcelain and bone china in modern and contemporary ceramics.

Exhibits includes modern classics by Edmund de Waal, Lucie Rie, and Bernard Leach, alongside more contemporary work by Sue Paraskeva, Sun Kim, Yoshikawa Masamichi and Fenella Elms.

Porcelain is a type of ceramic material possessing particular strength and translucence, compared to other ceramics. It was first discovered in China, and its use slowly spread across east Asia and finally to Europe where, after working for centuries at imitating imported Asian porcelains in other materials, a European finally unlocked the process. An alchemist called J.F. Böttger working at the Dresden court of Augustus the Strong, became the first European to make the ‘white gold’ and went on to found the Meissen factory,

Curator Sophie Cummings said the exhibition featured around 40 items, all from the SMAG collection and including some recent acquisitions.

“Porcelain is a magical material, from a really old tradition. It used to be called ‘white gold’ in Europe in the 16th century because it was so strong and beautiful, and they couldn’t work out how to make it,” she said.

The exhibition includes teapots, cups and pots as well as ceramic sculptures.

“One of my favourites is a piece by Fenella Elms,” she said. “It is like a swirly Mobius strip, and it’s incredible it has been made out of porcelain.”

She said the piece had been presented to the museum last year by Fenella Elms, who lives in Aldbourne.

Events relating to the exhibition may be scheduled in the future and will be posted to the SMAG website at swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk. The exhibition runs till Saturday November 24. The SMAG in Bath Road is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 4.30pm . Admission is free.