BaCeramics 2020

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Ba Ceramics 2020

We’d like to acknowledge the invaluable support of all our tutors, TDs and lecturers. Three years of uni has flown by: three years of pots, kilns and glazes; trolleys lost and found, kiln meetings attended (and missed) and head-scratching lectures (thanks Jon); Monday Morning Meetings, studio days and a French study trip (very hard work). None of this would have been possible without their almost endless patience and encouragement. It takes a village to make a ceramicist, and our village included; Dr Natasha Mayo Duncan Ayscough Claire Curneen Matt Thompson Caroline Taylor Gemma Wilde Bert Jones Margo Schmidt Jon Clarkson This term in particular has been a challenge, but you tackled it with your usual positivity and generosity. Thank you for all your continuous hard work, advice and support. Thank you also to family and friends for your encouragement; you must be as relieved as us that we made it to the end.

NOT THE SAME AS ANY OTHER This year’s art graduates stand apart from previous years. As with all graduating students from CSAD ceramics they will be remembered for their breadth of skills, honed across three years of study, the ability to analyse the attributes of peers in ceramics and wider arts practice, and for a clear understanding of their contribution to the field. As with all our graduates they have worked consistently to secure this knowledge. What makes this year distinct, is how students have already moved beyond this expectation. On the 24th March, the rising threat of a global pandemic caused the final preparations for the degree show to halt at 4pm. In line with government edict, students were asked to leave the university campus and self-isolate. Separated from the very individual studio spaces, communal areas and ceramics facilities they had used over the past year to develop their final body of artwork, students were stunned, caught out by the impact of this extraordinary event on their continued education. Everyone in the art school, everyone everywhere, entered a period of flux and uncertainty.

After a period of working through the possibilities for completing their course, students began to recognise what this situation required. That in addition to the usual ‘deliverables’ for assessment: a consolidation of skills, independence of idea and contextual alignment –– they need to master the higher achievement attributes of problem-solving, flexibility of thinking and adaptability of practice that often takes artists years to attain. The graduating students of 2020 are not the same as any other. How we might again encourage such radical shifts in perspective, nurture flexibility of thought, encourage adaptability and confidence in seizing material equivalence whilst still sharpening understanding of material specific concerns, requires far more space than I have here to properly understand. But as educators we must learn how to nurture such strength and resilience outside of extreme circumstance. The students’ portfolios now contain what all employers, recruitment officers of MA’s PGCE’s and Creative Residency programmes would be delighted to receive: a demonstration of innovation of practice and mind.

For our students, alongside the very human response of fear and concern for family, grew frustration at the prospect of their degree being cut short, their hard work unrecognised, at worst an erosion of the very foundation on which their future professional prospects could build.

Belonging to the generation of art students completing their studies during COVID19 should be recognised as a badge of honour, a distinction that sets them apart from all preceding years, a celebration of how an extraordinary situation can require and forge extraordinary attributes.

Art students across the globe found themselves in this same predicament.

Dr Natasha Mayo, Course Leader.


CONTENTS Introduction 1 Mattie Amatt 6 Nathan Barnard 8 Ellie Basi 10 Marcus Bertsen 12 Nigel Edwards 14 Karen Jones 16 Vitushanan Karunkaran 18 Ethan Powell


Danial Salter 22 Nick Stenhouse 24 Hamish Symonds 26 Heather Wilson 28 Yuqi Zhang 30



MAPPING CONNECTIONS: BODY AND EARTH MATTIE AMATT We use our bodies to engage with the land, to feel it and decipher it. Like running your fingers over a pot to feel its fullness, walking a hillside gives you a knowledge of its form, the curves and dips and undulations. I feel the breeze cooling my skin, the sun warming my back; smell the freshness of spring turning to summer sweetness, hear a skylark’s crisp alarm. We come to know the land physically through a myriad of sensations simultaneously received and decoded in the body. It is understood only in plurality; no singular sense can fully realise the experience. Our reliance on sight as the principle means by which we engage with the world stunts our capacity to understand it. In reducing the encounter to one dominated by vision we diminish the earth’s ability to affect us, rendering all as a flat frieze, background. Land becomes landscape, no longer a part of our lives but merely the setting for them. For me, coil building is a little like walking. Step by step I understand the structure better, circling the contours, methodically exploring form. My fingers and the clay tell me what to do, where to support, when to add more. Around and around, pinching, stepping, learning. Slowly the piece moves out of the flat 2d and inhabits the 3d world. Instagram: m_amatt



SCULPTING SENSORIAL ENCOUNTERS: A MULTIMODAL APPROACH NATHAN BARNARD Our sensorial perception of materials is ingrained from birth as we begin to explore the world, and is later concreted by our tacit knowledge from repeated material engagement. Through my work I use material experimentation to challenge this entrenched perception and ask you to consider the deeper emotional connections we attribute to these senses. I create abstract sculptures by hand building whilst citing and using various ceramic processes from plaster casting to throwing. I use the wheel in unconventional ways to carve out clay blocks by turning into them rather than throwing from them. My approach to making is very much aligned with the philosophy of phenomenology. Through studying conscious experience from a first-person point of view we can begin to understand the existing collaboration between object and emotion. This plays a large role in my work with visual textures being a catalyst for the viewer to dive into their own sensorial connections with a piece. By creating sensorial journeys, allowing the viewer to take their own pathway around the work, I aim to bring into the fore our personal connections with objects. What is it specifically you appreciate about the objects around you? Why are they important? Do they hold memories or evoke emotion? I hope that by bringing my pieces back to the body and mind, and creating sensorial encounters, you can begin to uncover sensations and emotions that may have been lost. Instagram: nbarnardceramics



From Body to Mind: Empathic Ceramics Ellie Basi With this generation as with many before it, anguish over mental health is an issue that affects the population both old and young. My work is designed with the mental disorder of anxiety in mind, to demonstrate the physical and emotional struggle one person goes through when experiencing a panic attack. The aim is to encourage awareness of mental health disorders, and to serve as a reminder that an artists voice can be utilised as a platform to promote positivity, as a creative way to serve others, as well as the artists themselves. Instagram: basi_ceramics



A CULTURAL ORPHAN: REPATRIATION THROUGH CERAMICS MARCUS BERNTSEN I am a cultural orphan. I have always been disconnected to my home culture. Despite being born in Norway, I moved to Bosnia when I was just six weeks old; it was all I knew for the first fourteen years of my life. My first words were Bosnian, my first steps were in Bosnia and I prefer Bosnian food to Norwegian food. I’m so disconnected that when I speak Norwegian some of my family say that I speak like an immigrant. This isn’t to say that I am not Norwegian. For all intents and purposes I am Norwegian. I have a Norwegian passport, blonde hair and blue eyes and I love fish. I am so Norwegian that when I was born I was so pale and blonde, the doctor thought I was an albino. But in terms of what I feel Norway represents, I am not that. I have never spent a significant amount of time there and I only visit for the holidays. I have struggled with this disconnection my whole life. I knew I wasn’t Bosnian as people kept reminding me that I’m too blonde. When I moved to the UK I thought maybe I could finally find a place to belong; once I got here they kept on reminding me that my accent was too American to be British. I have used this project as an opportunity to reconnect myself with the Scandinavian culture. Repatriating myself to what Norway and Scandinavia represent. I decided to find the core characteristics of Scandinavian design in order to see where I fit in. Using design techniques as well as motifs from within Scandinavian architecture, I found certain commonalities. The use of curves and angles, how modernism has impacted Scandinavia and how ceramics can relate to all this. In most of the buildings in Oslo, they use curves with purpose. There aren’t too many curves as to not busy the eye and keep the form to a streamlined minimalism. Using this idea, I try to keep my forms to a maximum of 3 curves with minimal angles. Keeping them within these constraints allows them to fit together. They don’t over power each other rather, they work well together. Since my objects arethrown forms having them be something more than just pots is important. This is achieved through many pieces coming together to create somewhat of a still life.

The glaze I use is a reduction Chun glaze. The Chun creates a blue that fits well into Scandinavian motifs as well as being representative of Nordic culture. The mixture of gloss and matte texture, produced by reduction firing allows for a texture that compliments the form. All of these factors creates an object that is representative as well as functional. Furthermore, the flow of form allows for the objects to tell a story. The relationship from lip to base tells a narrative of the maker, with the clay and glaze being visual aides to the story. It shows us how the object is meant to be seen. Flow of form also helps the objects sit comfortably together. How the pieces interact and meld. Making pieces that show a flow to help create an image is key within my practice. Narrative as a whole is key. Pots without a story are just vitrified clay; with a story they are art. Functionality is one of the key pillars of my practice. This has a little to do with monetary gain, but is more about making a useful object that somebody decides to cherish and use. This is a high that I am forever chasing. This being said, using thrown functional objects as my canvas to explore my reconnection to Scandinavia was a challenging endeavour. Making objects that are representative and suggestive rather than making something that was too on the nose made me take my work to a new level. Through the use of both practical skill and contextualisation. Finding the connections that I have with Norway was difficult. More than I thought it would be. But the journey has shaped my aesthetic. Modernism and quintessential minimalism have become the bedrock to my practice. Reconnection is important, seeing where the roots of things lay. This is my mine. Instagram: mlb_010



Inspirational Elements of my work: Why Artists Work at the Intersection of the Relationship between Function and Sculpture Nigel Edwards I find working at this junction rewarding and liberating, enabling the use of I was bought up on the rural coast of Devon during the time of great social economic and technical change; the 1950’s 60’s and 70’s. We have again reached a seminal moment in the history of man - the threat to the existence of marine life and habitat due to scientific and technical invention of plastics and pollutants. This body of work considers the beauty of the environment where I was raised, using clay bodies and mimetic glazes to convey the raw energy and dynamism of the coast. I have employed various techniques and involved different genres, exploring functional forms through the language of sculpture, to the development of glazes to encourage and engage with thoughts of rural coastlines and marine life. The result is a balance held between two forces, the power of the ocean and man’s relationship and impact on it through geometric and technical interventions. I identify with artists who create functional works which have intrinsic elements of sculpture; my own work is, or speaks of functionality with sculptural references and language. First thoughts concerning this creative harmony between function and sculpture are that it may be an esoteric form of creative strategy, but as I reflect and research work not only in the field of ceramic creativity, but in the wider field of art and design, I recognise a subtext of sculptural language in all design, I consider that this subtext is the inherent aim of man’s recognition of his own form. The practicalities and function of electrical connections overtly illustrates these design characteristics which are mimetics of physical gender functionality and form. Design of the functional form has to have a major element of ergonomics in order to achieve the intended function, however it is apparent that we also need a degree of emotional attachment to an item, in terms of aesthetics, so that we are attracted to the object and also that the object possibly says something about ourselves and our lifestyles.

two genres to be brought together to speak as one with a use defined not only be the practitioner but also the viewer. I have made a few references to artists who I consider work and extol the harmony in the area at the intersection of where function and sculpture co-exist with great effect. Ruth Duckworth is a potter and a sculptor who along with Lucie Rie was instrumental in the development of British Studio ceramics. Duckworth’s approach to clay, as a sculptural medium, changed peoples’ perception of the material. It asked people to consider clay objects as sculptural works outside and along with functionality. She explored clay to create a wide variety of refined vessels and figurative sculptures with a great understanding of form. The untitled work from 1985 imparts the functionality of vases with the abstract almost human. James Tower used a variety of approaches and skills within the ceramics discipline by creating domestic pottery, terracotta sculptures and articulately glazed abstract forms to give the appearance of 3D paintings. Tower focussed on artistic expression inscribing onto the surfaces of functional bowls plates and vessels transforming the ceramic functional forms into art works. Tower was influenced by the sculptor Henry Moore and the English Modernists, and he became recognised as an exhibiting artist with a truly unique approach to his work. Ewen Henderson studied ceramic at the Camberwell School of art under Hans Coper and Lucie Rie; however his initial creative passion was for painting and sculpture, and these influences are intrinsic and clear in his work. His early ceramic work was thrown on the wheel, but he moved away from the wheel to create hand built ceramics, as he felt that this process gave him more freedom and expression. His work is inspired by geological forms and the British landscapes. Instagram: nigeledwards_ceramic_artist

Creating a ceramic functional work with sculptural form has a balance which can bias towards one or other of this intersection,



FRACTALS: ASSEMBLING AN INTRICATE BEAUTY KAREN JONES There is beauty in the natural world, the texture, colour and formations of land and sea. The colours of the ocean and organic structures of the coral reef, the intricacy of plants, petals and wildflowers can all be captured through clay. The ever changing seasons remind us of the natural transformation in nature. Fired porcelain in particular can appear as if growing in naturally occurring delicate and fragile structures. These multiple hand-formed ceramic shapes recreate the effect of fractals assembled onto organic forms. Instagram: karenjayneceramics



10,000 HOURS: STRIVING FOR SKILL VITHUSHANAN KARUNAKARAN Is it necessary to know the character and the intentions of the potter in order to appreciate the work? A potter should not value himself higher than his works. He may not be divine but like God, he gives his pots life. The pots have their own personalities and characters. We make life in plant pots, we drink tea from our mugs, we light fire in candle ware and we eat from our plates. And yet, we appreciate the name of the maker more so than we appreciate his work. I make with the intention of allowing viewers and owners to appreciate the work I create rather than my name. This separation is key to me. By looking at and appreciating pots, we can understand the blood, sweat and tears gone in to making them. We learn to appreciate the potter’s skill and value them through their pots rather than their fame. This is what I believe to be the highest credentials a potter can ever receive. Instagram: legacycraftpottery



SELF-SOURCING MATERIALS: A LIFE DEFINED IN RELATION TO THE EARTH ETHAN POWELL Within my practice I have become most drawn to the process of making pots. Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi says to get into the flow of any activity then it must be autotelic, which is an activity or creative work having an end or purpose in itself. This sounds easy enough to achieve in creative activities but can we as people be Autotelic, can we have a purpose or end in our Self? That is to say, to enjoy life we must be content with the very state of existing.

I gather local materials from my surrounding to incorporate into my work. Local River Taff red slate was used as a glaze addition. Slip from the Taff trail was gathered for mark-making and a sand from its river bank was used as a clay body addition. This means my work is completely grounded in a time and place that it was made, all of which is evident on the surface of the pot.

This is just one example of how I use my ceramics practice as contemplative practice. I do this not only to deepen my awareness and connection to myself, world and others, but also in an attempt to enrich the contemporary relevance of ceramics as a whole.

The wonderful thing about ceramics is the permanent change it makes in the kiln. All these elements combine, melt and flow to form beautiful vivid surfaces that show the life in the materials. This vivid transformation that happens in the fire of a gas kiln allows viewers the read backwards from the cool hard surface and see the life that has been contained in this pot thus far.

My work is made through a fairly instinctual process. I have a vivid image in my head of what I hope the pot might look like but when I make, I respond to the clay and form as it evolves. I use abstract representations of landscapes as motifs in appreciation for natures role as an original source of aesthetic influence. This allows me to better connect with the world around me and to make permanent representations of my literal existence at the time.

When I started this project, I wanted the viewer to see a glimpse of the rich narrative that ceramics practice has. I wanted them to contemplate the pots existence to see a life reflected in the vessel. I hope that not only will they be able to find an aesthetic connection to the pots but a curiosity for the process, so that they might consider ceramic practice or the vessels as a path for contemplation. Instagram: ethan_makes_pots



EXPERIENCED FINE DINING: BRIDGING THE DIVIDE BETWEEN CERAMICS AND THE SENSES DANIAL SALTER I found my love for clay whilst visiting the V&A in 2014, since then have explored various avenues of the craft, playing with sculpture, function and form throughout, finally realising on tableware as my creative direction. I believe that there is a non-existing relationship to be nurtured between ceramic vessel and food product, which in turn can aid in the heightening of a consumers experience of a dining environment. My ambition is to marry the two genres of function and sculpture to create bespoke, individualised pieces of ceramic tableware, specific to a brief provided by a client, venue or chef. Creating this connection between ceramicist and chef is imperative to successfully pieces. Through form, surfacing I believe that an individual can realise a better understanding of their sensorium, resulting in a heightened memory of a dining experience.

My process begins in the two-dimensional, designing through programmes such as SketchUp, Rhino and Photoshop I create realised designs, providing an insight into outcomes. Once designs have been created my process moves towards the practical, plaster. I start on the lathe, turning forms from cylindrical blocks of plaster. I am meticulously led, this ensures that the finished form is of the highest standard. I then use a number of methods of creating moulds, which when completed can reproduce the desired multiples. I consider myself a perfectionist, form, surfacing and

function are consistently at the forefront of my mind, however, I also find my process meditative. Working with designers, restaurants and private clients, I strive to produce the best possible outcome for all parties. All this with our joint ambition of creating a more sensual dining experience. Instagram: salterceramics


MATERIAL SYNERGIES: CAPTURING THE IMMEDIACY OF THOUGHT & FEELING NICK STENHOUSE As an artist, I employ the agency of ceramics to anchor my subjective emotion. The work in turn prompts an emotive reaction in a viewer, intertwining them in the dialog of my experience. Ceramics serves as the connecting point between artist and viewer, taking them beyond objective viewing to an immersion in the works emotional characteristics.



DRAWING ON LIVING HISTORY: HOW LOOKING BACK AT DEVONSHIRE SLIPWARE TRADITIONS CAN INSPIRE CONTEMPORARY PRACTICE HAMISH SYMONDS I create functional pottery, drawing inspiration from UK slipware traditions. I limit myself, as far as I can, to the same materials that would have been used 200 years ago, giving my colour palette a strong link to the geology of the UK. The amber pieces with sgraffito have the warm, autumnal, and comforting presence that is ubiquitous with traditional British slipware. My black metallic pieces have quite a different sensibility to the honey glazed amber pots, they feature dynamic surfaces of contrasting slips that pull through and bleed into one another. With my amber sgraffito pieces I mostly know exactly what will come out the kiln when I fire them, whereas the metallic slip is so reactive that it often surprises me with the sheer range of outcomes it produces. These pieces are overall more moody and subdued than my sgraffito works, and are an escape from the associations of slipware with countryside domesticity. This push and pull between committing myself to traditional working methods and yet trying to create work that holds more modern aesthetic sensibilities and works on its own terms is something I often reflect upon in my making. Instagram: ham_ceram




Our natural tendency is to find meaning within everything. Even function is an explicit exploration of human connection, with values uncovered through use. We look for and are drawn to a vessel’s more arcane details, then make wider connections between the object and our existence.

Objects with such a powerful sense of the familiar are archetypes from our collective existence. Yet for a potter they sit in a mid-space between the domestic; synonymous with use, and a drive to redefine our daily experience.

The role of art is to condition this more enquiring state of mind but if too self-conscious, can end up saying very little at all.

Within domestic spaces are narratives of our lives, told by the intertwining relationship between objects and experiences. This point within the domestic, where objects become fused with the spaces and moments they occupy, allows for them to go unnoticed within their domestic setting. I want my objects to enjoy a sense of the familiar, by first uncovering these moments we define them by. Objects that explore this, work to reveal what is hidden within the everyday.




ALCHEMY AND EMOTIONAL STORYTELLING YUQI ZHANG Looking into the beauty of nature is a most exciting thing for me, because it is uncreatable and provokes fascination. All the movement and the transformation give delight to my senses, touching and enriching my soul.

The relationship between ceramics and nature is inseparable, all ceramics material is produced over hundreds of years of evolution. The relationship between myself and nature is inseparable. I am an emotional storyteller, using the movement of glaze to suggest moments of change in the weather, using glaze to capture the shift in colors and tones that reflect my own emotional response to natural scenery.

The qualities of glaze and form are the works core characteristics. The vessels simplicity references traditional Chinese vessels; the fluidity of the curve must capture the viewers eye causing it to plummet along with the glaze into the center, promoting unity, the activity of the viewer and the activity of the materials working in harmony.

Instagram: yuki_ 0820_


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