After 11 successful years at the Royal College of Art, Ceramic Art London has found a new home in the impressive surroundings of UAL Central Saint Martins. The modern and dynamic redevelopment of Granary Square at Kings Cross is giving CAL a spectacular rebirth, with a dazzling ensemble of makers under the hundred metres long, three-storey atrium known as The Street, which brings a lot of natural lighting which was referred as very important by artists to showcase their work. From nearly 200 applications, 88 artists were selected from 12 countries, showcasing outstanding international contemporary ceramics at its most diverse.
I came quite early on the opening day so i could attend the lecture schedule for the day as last year I missed it. When I arrived at the facilities the courtyard was flooded with a massive crowd due to a fire alarm, so the lecture were all delayed. Was really impressed by the amount of people who were there and could spot a few known faces. As a welcome to CAL in its new venue CSM, Kathryn Hear and Rob Kessler had a lecture and reflected on the key moments and people in the Universities long history. The recently appointed Subject Leader, Anthony Quinn, introduced his vision and future opportunities for the course within an expanding international context. It’s really scary how dramatic ceramics as a subject studied in the UK has declined throughout the last decade. Its great having these small courses still running and maybe that’s something that drives me to perhaps become a ceramics teacher.
In addition we had an interesting talks by Christine Lalumia which reflected on curating, commissioning and commerce of ceramics as her new role as director at Contemporary Applied Arts. And Alex Harrison, a designer and material specialist with global engineering consultancy Arup, which has broad experience of building cladding system design with specialist knowledge of architectural ceramics and timber, working with leading architectural practices which he lectured us on the re-emergence of architectural ceramics.
Further, we had an excuite lecture by Shi Juntang, a senior curator at the Yixing Ceramic Museum. Potters have explooited the famous red clay of the Yixing province in China since the 10th century to make distinctive teapots. Mr. Shi went through the history of Yixing Ceramic, the modern processes and approaches that contemporary artists employ to engage with the special Yixing red clay. We were also lucky to be in the presence of a few certified Yixing ceramic masters.
Probably my favourite lecture was from the famous and talented (and such a lovely person) Walter Keeler. His lecture was basically a reflection on a lifetime of making and the ceramics that have inspired him. There are few studio potters who can draw inspiration from Staffordshire Creamware and saltglaze with such consummate skill, individuality and wit as Wally Keeler. Since establishing his first studio in 1965 he has pursued his passion for functional pots – mugs, jugs,teapots, the potters’s “stock in trade”, making work which exudes sensuality and versatility. Ranging from the simply functional to the playfully unexpected, his work is distinctly recognizable, a conversation in plastic form and colour subtle glazed surfaces.
The lectures consumed most of the day, so I had little time to explore the show, but manage to have a carefull look at it in which is always refreshing to see such diversity in ceramics and how artists develop from one year to another. I was so happy when Nathalie Domingo which I met last year instantly recognised me and we talked about her new work. Also met the two, Great Pottery Throw Down contestants Matthew and Sandra and the Kiln man, Richard which was also exhibiting.