On various occasions I have mentioned the brick and clay history of the west. There is one name that is deeply ingrained in the kiwi psyche, and that is Crown Lynn, makers of everyday crockery and of decorative pieces.
This sculpture by Louise Purvis (2007) stands in Olympic Park, New Lynn, and evokes exactly the day-to-day items that graced many a breakfast table in the country. Interestingly, while that is the main association we have when hearing of Crown Lynn, the firm produced in the first instance industrial clay ware, like drain pipes and ceramic insulators for power lines, with tableware only a small fraction of their output.
Crown Lynn was founded in 1948 as an offshoot of Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Ltd, which had diversified in the 1930s into production of tableware and decorative porcelain products. There were various corporate plays in the 80s, and after the crash of 87 the Crown Lynn factory was closed in 1989 and sold to Malaysian interests. Nowadays Crown Lynn operates out of Kuala Lumpur.
A small display of Crown Lynn pieces is on display at the New Lynn Public Library. Many Crown Lynn items of historic interest are now in the hands of the Portage Ceramics Trust. In 2011, the City Gallery Wellington will host a major exhibition “Crown Lynn: Crockery of Distinction” (January 29 to April 24, 2011).
The display below shows jugs similar to the one depicted in the sculpture.