“Fragile? is a brand new exhibition that gives a different perspective on contemporary ceramics, asking visitors to engage directly with some of the art displayed in the galleries and perhaps making them think again about ceramics as a major contemporary art form” 

-Andrew Renton

A major exhibition just by our doorstep, showcasing the beauty and diversity of contemporary ceramics which was shown at National Museum Cardiff. Fragile? explored ceramics as a vibrant and complex contemporary art medium. Bringing together contemporary ceramics from the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Derek Williams Trust collections, alongside exciting commissions and significant loans from the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Derek Williams Trust..

The exhibition also explored innovative and interactive installations for visitors to directly interact with the art. Fragile?  included three exciting installations commissioned from major artists Phoebe Cummings, Clare Twomey and Keith Harrison. Two of these installations invited direct audience participation, extending visitors’ experience of ceramics in new and unexpected ways.

For this exhibition, Phoebe Cummings has explored the possibility for clay to tell a story. Inspired by the great variety of Amgueddfa Cymru’s collections, from botanical specimens to continental porcelain, the artist has designed alternative ‘species’ in a brand new landscape. She has used miniature and full-scale scenes to construct a decorative science-fiction world on-site from raw clay.

Clare Twomey’s installation entitled ‘Consciousness/Conscience’, focused on the creation and destruction of the work itself. By encouraging visitors to walk on one of her art works and therefore placing themselves in the role of activator of the work, visitors were given the responsibility for the art work’s destruction.


Keith Harrison showed ‘Mute’, an installation that is forming part of a post-event response to a previous sound and clay work entitled ‘Bustleholme’. This experience had left the artist with permanent hearing loss but led him to wonder how a PA system would perform if the sound was completely internalized and then gradually exposed through short bursts of play over a long period.


Also on view were works by four Wales-based artists, Adam Buick, Claire Curneen, Lowri Davies and Walter Keeler. They were shown together with specially-commissioned films that delve into each maker’s creative process presented with their work alongside. Really interesting as usually we don’t see artists in the action, and this is especially informative for us students and makers.

Adam Buick, who lives and works in Pembrokeshire, will display his work inspired by the coastal landscape. The main focus of his practice is the different expressions of the classic Korean Moon Jar form.

Our very own Claire Curneen, who lives in Cardiff, focuses on the sculptural use of clay and explores themes of saints, angels and mythology through her figures.

Lowri Davies, whose Welsh heritage is her major source of inspiration, has chosen to explore lithophanes – a two dimensional relief plaques which are lit from behind, for this commission.

Walter Keeler, who is based in Monmouthshire, questions the use of the tableware, such as a teapot or bowl, and expands this to incorporate decorative embellishment.

Really amazed by how the whole exhibition and the breadth of ceramics included in this curation. From its history, process, scale and especially the beauty and diversity of contemporary ceramics.


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BA (Hons) Final Year Ceramics student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Love experimenting with material and techniques and work on a range of medium.

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