Armenian ceramics and Jerusalem stone are two of the most outstanding symbols of the city. The brilliant splashes of color provided by Armenian ceramics embedded in Jerusalem stone are a familiar sight throughout the city. Passersby appreciate them but may not be aware that these tiles represent a unique style: a local art school of pottery, which was born in Jerusalem only a century ago.
Armenian ceramics of Jerusalem impart a unique visual and cultural impression, which was created through historical causes at the beginning of the twentieth century, the First World War and the beginnings of the British administration. The events and upheavals that accompanied the period, created interactions between religions, peoples of different nationalities and varied cultural and artistic trends, that arrived in Jerusalem generating its image in the new era.
In the process of creating this art, contrasts and cooperation were blended together between East and West, national movements, religious and social ideals and following military and political upheavals. But unlike all that occurred in the thousands of years of the Holy City, a local impression was created, which turned into a basic image that united all its inhabitants as an expression of their local identity. Christians, Moslems and Jews gathered the chiefs of various opposing sects to sink their differences and work together for the good of Jerusalem, "Pro-Jerusalem", as stated by Sir Ronald Storrs, the first British Governor of Jerusalem who established the Pro-Jerusalem Society.
Armenian Ceramics developed as a local artistic school whose importance lay in the fact that in a city which had always been the religious center of three religions, almost no artistic schools were ever formed there. The colorful ceramic tiles in the city streets and houses were a promise and vision of a new world and a different Jerusalem. Ceramic tiles are glimpses of Paradise set as jewels in earthly Jerusalem. After 100 years of creativity we seek to unravel their complexity and influence on local visual concepts. Is it art or craft? Does it form a contravention or replacement after 400 years of Ottoman rule? Or perhaps it was a British initiative in the twilight of the Age of Imperialism on the threshold of a new era? To what extent does it represent the Armenian national identity and what was expressed by it as far as the Jewish and Arab national movements are concerned? And with all this the question arises how, in spite of all these local contrasts and confrontations, Armenian ceramics of Jerusalem have become a special local element that unites all Jerusalem’s inhabitants and lovers.
Following the 100 years leading up to 2019, views, incidents, historical figures and artists strove in their paths of variegated art, to capture the eye and heart in the changing scenes of twentieth century Jerusalem.