Edmund de Waal is an artist who writes. Much of his work is around the contingency of memory: bringing particular histories of loss and exile into renewed life. Both his artistic and written practice have broken new ground through their critical engagement with the history and potential of ceramics, as well as with architecture, music, dance and poetry. De Waal continually investigates themes of diaspora, memorial, materiality and the colour white with his interventions and artworks made for diverse spaces and museums worldwide.
Recent sites include the Venetian Ghetto and Ateneo Veneto for his two-part project, psalm, coinciding with the Venice Biennale 2019. The latter holds de Waal's most ambitious work to date, the library of exile: a pavilion of 2,000 books written by those forced to leave their own country or exiled within it. Other museum interventions include elective affinities at The Frick Collection, New York (2019); --one way or other-- at the Schindler House, Los Angeles (2018); white island at MACE, Ibiza (2018); Morandi / de Waal at Artipelag, Stockholm (2017); and during the night, Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna (2016), an exhibition on anxiety, curated from their permanent collections. Kneaded Knowledge: The Language of Ceramics, a group exhibition co-curated with Ai Weiwei exploring the history of clay, was shown both at the National Gallery in Prague and Kunsthaus, Graz (2016).
From 2013-2015, a series of projects and events were held to coincide with the publication of The White Road: a pilgrimage of sorts in 2015, including white at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2015) and On White at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (2013).
Poets and writers from Paul Celan, Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens, to John Cage and Walter Benjamin have been constant touchstones for de Waal's work and most profoundly so for his recent solo exhibitions; a sort of speech (2019) and Irrkunst (2016) at Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin; breath, Ivorypress, Madrid (2019); the poems of our climate, Gagosian, San Francisco (2018); and Atemwende, Gagosian, New York (2013).
Among his major installations on permanent display are Signs & Wonders (2009) at the V&A Museum, London; an idea (for the journey) (2013) at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; a local history (2012) at the University of Cambridge; and a sounding line for Chatsworth House, Derbyshire (2007).
His first set design featured in the 2017/18 Season at the Royal Opera House for Yugen, a new ballet by choreographer Wayne McGregor.
De Waal is also renowned for his bestselling memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), which won many literary prizes including the RSL Ondaatje Prize and the Costa Biography Award and has been translated into over 30 languages. In 2016, it was chosen as the Independent Bookshop Week's Book of the Decade. Other titles include The White Road (2015), The Pot Book (2011), 20th Century Ceramics (2003) and de Waal's critical study on Bernard Leach for Tate (1997).
De Waal was made an OBE for his services to art in 2011. In 2015 he was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction by Yale University. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of the Arts London, Nottingham, Sheffield, York and Canterbury Christ Church universities and is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. De Waal is on the Advisory Committee for The Royal Mint and is a Trustee for the V&A Museum, the Gilbert Trust and The Saturday Club Trust. He is also a Patron of Paintings in Hospitals.
Edmund de Waal was born in 1964 in Nottingham. He lives and works in London.
There is a permanent installation of available Edmund de Waal works on show in the Artist's House.