The only surviving early 19th-century porcelain works in the UK, Nantgarw was host to one of the time’s finest porcelain makers and still supports artists working with ceramics today.
At the museum visitors can learn about the work of William Billingsley, whose extremely fine porcelain made to his own recipe is widely considered among the world’s best. Produced between 1813 and 1820, very little of it remains today as, due to its fragility, up to 90% of it was destroyed in the kilns. Individual pieces are now highly desirable and trade for large sums – though Nantgarw recently embarked on a successful Art Happens project to recreate this porcelain. (An exhibition about the project runs 3-31 January 2018 at the museum.)
Nantgarw does not dwell on its past, however, and is still active in encouraging and promoting the work of contemporary ceramicists. Three resident artists create, fire and exhibit new work on site, and host regular workshops in order to share knowledge and skills.
Visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the process through watching these artists at work; join a guided tour to learn more about the Pardoe family, who took over from Billingsley and remained at Nantgarw until the 1970s; and relax with tea or coffee from the Chinaworks cafe.