Press Release: Discover the Artistry and Craft of Contemporary Ceramics – Ceramic Plasticity Symposium

Internationally acclaimed artists, ceramicists and academics come together for CERAMIC PLASTICITY - a one day Symposium at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation on Friday, 26 January 2018 (11am-6pm). Reflecting the resurgence of craft and skills-based making in art, the symposium explores common ground between contemporary art and studio ceramics. Emphasising the commonalities between artist and craftsperson, the event focuses on practical, theoretical, and professional aspects of working with clay, embodied in its malleability and resistance - its plasticity.

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Francine Norris, Director of Education, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, says:

"We are excited to bring together these leading artists and writers all exploring ceramics as a contemporary medium. The College continues to promote ceramic making across a range of programmes and is well-placed to support artists exploring and reinterpreting the material".

The Ceramic Plasticity Symposium will be chaired by De La Warr Pavillion curator Rosie Cooper with Glenn Adamson, senior scholar at Yale University and former head of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York as keynote speaker. Glenn has spent much of his career highlighting and defining the often-blurred lines of ground breaking artistry and craft.

The four disciplines within ceramics will be represented by experts in their fields: Studio pottery by Julian Stair and Assemble, Contemporary Art by Caroline Achaintre and Florence Peake, Theory by Glenn Adamson and Dr. David Stent and Conservation by Bouke de Vries (West Dean alumnus).

Speaker bios:

Dr. David Stent., artist, writer, curator, performer and Visual Arts subject leader at West Dean College.

Julian Stair, one of the U.K.'s leading potters will examine the state of contemporary ceramic practice and what certain changes offer for the future.

Assemble is a collective based in London who work across the fields of art, architecture and design. Assemble's working practice seeks to address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made. Assemble won the Turner Prize in 2015.

Caroline Achaintre, artist renowned for her theatrical and grimacing creations made in textiles and ceramics will discuss Fantomas an exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion from January, with ceramics co-commissioned by West Dean College.

Florence Peake, performance artist and an artist-in-residence at West Dean College, will speak about her recent project that has led to various iterations of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring performed on a stage of wet clay.

Bouke de Vries, College alumnus and ceramic conservationist turned artist, best known for his sculptural pieces that fuse together old with the new.

The symposium will appeal to art students, academics, curators, professional ceramicists and studio potters and industry professionals alike. As well as anyone interested in learning more about trends, practices and developments in the field of ceramics. The day offers an excellent platform for attendees to extend their knowledge and understanding of the range of contemporary ceramics and to create and develop links with those who share an interest in contemporary ceramics.

The symposium, hosted in the Old Library at the College near Chichester in West Sussex, is £25 for the day and includes a buffet lunch in the Oak Hall.

Booking is now open: www.westdean.org.uk/events/ceramic-plasticity The College attracts ceramics tutors and students nationally and internationally to courses ranging from craft -based short courses, to a Diploma or Masters degree in the conservation of Ceramics.

Notes to Editors


• West Dean College of Arts and Conservation near Chichester in West Sussex, is internationally recognised for creative arts and conservation education. Edward James, who founded the College, was a poet, artist and patron of the Surrealist Movement. During his lifetime he sponsored emerging artists and writers including John Betjeman, Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. Today the College continues this work by supporting people to realise their creative ambitions and potential.

• West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust, also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.

• West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London

• All photography is free to use for editorial purposes

For further information, media accreditation, filming opportunities and high-resolution digital images please contact: Phoebe Ladenburg Golden Squared Consulting Phoebe@goldensquared.com / +44 (0)207 439 2822

Bouke de Vries, Memory Vessel, 2016, ceramic and glass
Florence Peake, Rite of Spring project research. Photo: Anne Tetzlaff, Dancers: Iris Chan, Susanna Recchia
Julian Stair Monumental Jars VIII, X & XII at mima, 2012. Photo: Jan Baldwin