Ceramic Plasticity

The Old Library, West Dean College

£25 including a buffet lunch

This event is now fully booked.

Reflecting the resurgence of craft and skills-based making in art over the past decade, this one-day 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.

The symposium will bring together a range of voices within contemporary ceramics, such as the world renowned curator and writer, Glenn Adamson and leading potter and writer, Julian Stair. Dr. David Stent will present a speculative dialogue between a ceramicist and philosopher, and artists Caroline Achaintre and Florence Peake will demonstrate the possibilities of clay in light of two recent West Dean projects, coordinated in collaboration with Cass Sculpture Foundation and the De La Warr Pavilion. West Dean College alumnus, Bouke de Vries, will be discussing the crossover between ceramics conservation and fine art practice, and the Turner Prize winning architecture and design collective, Assemble, will focus on Granby Workshop - a ceramics workshop based in the Toxteth area of Liverpool.

The symposium will be a day of discussion, identifying common ground, appreciating difference, and celebrating clay as a material that feeds the imagination.


Registration in the Oak Hall: 10:30-11am

Introduction by Francine Norris (Director of Education, West Dean College)

PANEL 1, Chaired by Alison Sandeman (Studio Potter, West Dean College)

  • Dr. David Stent (West Dean College)
    Blue-slipped stone-burst - Destructive plasticity in Takuro Kuwata
  • Julian Stair (Potter, Writer) Ceramic - it's only a material, get over it

Panel 1 discussion


KEYNOTE, Introduced by Francine Norris

  • Glenn Adamson (Curator, Writer, Historian)
    Exploding Plastic Inevitable: A Decade in Ceramic History, 2007 - 2017


PANEL 2, Chaired by Rosie Cooper (Head of Exhibitions, De La Warr Pavilion)

  • Florence Peake (Artist, Choreographer) Rite
  • Caroline Achaintre (Artist) Marvel

    Panel 2 discussion


PANEL 3, Chaired by Katie Schwab (Artist-in-Residence at West Dean College)

  • Bouke de Vries (Conservator, Artist) Fractured Images
  • Mathew Leung (Assemble Architecture and Design Collective) To banish imperfection

    Panel 3 discussion


Closing remarks by Francine Norris.

Glenn Adamson image: Arlene Shechet, Jewel & Peg Leg are an Item, 2016, Glazed ceramic, painted and carved hardwood, steel. Sikkema Jenkins Gallery
Bouke de Vries, Memory Vessel, 2016, ceramic and glass
Assemble, Clay Station – Art on the Underground
Caroline Achaintre, Proxxo, 2012, ceramic
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