The Decorative and Applied Arts Collection contains almost 3,000 items of ceramics, glass, furniture, metalwork and jewellery.
The collection includes New Zealand and international decorative art objects dating largely from the 18th century through to the present day. Much of the collection is domestic in scale, reflecting the types of decorative art and design objects that came to occupy New Zealand homes over the past 150 years.
The Decorative and Applied Arts Collection includes ceremonial silver and metalwork from the late 19th century, including the distinctive trophy collection of the Spit Volunteer Fire Brigade (Napier). There are also examples of locally-made arts and crafts period metalwork, pottery and wood carving, including rare examples by Elizabeth Matheson of Havelock North.
There are good examples of international pottery and porcelain, largely from British sources including works of the Art Deco and Modernist periods. These include works by Clarice Cliff, Dame Laura Knight and Keith Murray. Ceramics from the archive of modernist designer Frank Carpay are housed within this collection, which also includes significant holdings of New Zealand studio ceramics from the interwar period through until the late 20th century.
Glass holdings range from domestic items of the Victorian period through to an excellent collection of New Zealand studio glass donated by the glass artist James Walker. Also included are examples of New Zealand jewellery from the contemporary period, including work by Warwick Freeman and Jane Dodd. The collection features key examples of New Zealand furniture design from the mid- to late 20th century, including the chairs designed for Napier’s Nicholson Chapel by Garth Chester and an early example of David Trubridge’s breakthrough design Body Raft. The Decorative Arts Collection also contains holdings of Asian decorative arts, including porcelain and carving.
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