Royal College of Art - Ceramics & Glass 2016

download Royal College of Art - Ceramics & Glass 2016

of 52

  • date post

  • Category


  • view

  • download


Embed Size (px)


Degree Show Catalogue Graduating class of 2016

Transcript of Royal College of Art - Ceramics & Glass 2016

  • 1Degree Show 2016


    DEGREE SHOW 2016

    Royal College of Art

  • 3Degree Show 2016


    Dear Students

    Show 2016, Ceramics & Glass a final show that we will never forget! Full of vitality, it shouts out: We are here, and we are definitely now! It talks about the

    materials of our trade with an intelligence and perception, pushing the boundaries of our disciplines as you stray into new territories of thinking and making. It is about

    the what if, and the culmination of two years where you questioned, pondered ideas, experimented, took risks and made your work fast and furiously throughout.

    Inevitably along the way there have been highs and lows, moments of uncertainty and frustration followed by moments of pure exhilaration, and now I hope you will feel proud as you see your ideas resolved and the ambitions in your work realised.

    But I cannot write this letter without a mention of the move from Kensington to Battersea, for in many ways it has been the shaping of you as a group, and a

    significant factor in determining the work you have made. Arriving in October for the start of your final year, there was a nervous buzz as you all explored our new

    home in Woo. An awe-inspiring building with state-of-the-art facilities, but one that was to present many challenges Surrounded by crates, pristine workbenches and new equipment, it must have been a daunting prospect to be the first to make

    that mark that would transform these beautiful clean spaces into a creative working environment. This inspirational final show is the proof that you have

    surpassed that challenge. There is bravado in scale, glass whose chemistry of colour explores our emotions. There is invention in design, in the use of material and process, exquisiteness in surface and detail. There is work that questions our

    preconceptions of the disciplines, work that tells a story, and work of quiet authority. It feels honest and professional.

    Time now to celebrate your achievements you have created an amazing platform for your futures, go out there and be successful!


    Head of RCA Ceramics & Glass

    Degree Show 2016


  • ur students are often asked why they have made something. Not stuck in any ivory tower, they are aware of the

    outside world; some indeed have previous practices as architects or designers, and come to RCA to reconnect with hand making. They repeatedly present their work verbally, in crits and exams, and to competition juries. Many choose to write about their own work and its critical underpinnings in their dissertations. For some students, the writing element of the course becomes fundamental and confirms their own sense of self and this year we have had more distinctions awarded for these texts than ever before.

    The why question was of great interest to the audience in Japan for a lecture I once gave about Hans Coper. He was my tutor here at RCA in the 1970s, and one learnt to expect why questions in his tutorials. The curator of the Shigaraki Museum

    (where I spoke for Copers first retrospective in Japan in 2010) was curious, and very keen that this aspect of RCA teaching was brought out, as if it were a novelty.

    Why work in ceramics and glass, then? A focus on particular materials and skills could be seen as limiting, but these capacities can liberate wider territories of practise. We encourage ideas that lead students in all the directions of Art, Craft and Design. Very few courses can offer this scope, but through our connection to two bodies of material understanding, we can.

    Our students explore many different possible careers; as studio makers and designers, in one-off or batch production, a dish for a particular chef, or an international industry (which may still do small-scale manufacturing); making art as object, ornament, polemic or installation. They question

    Alison Britton



    The Why QuestionBY ALISON BRITTON

  • Degree Show 2016


    05their objects roles and purposes, as things that

    are linked to everyday life. Students unpick conventions, and are driven by a curiosity that can be shared through things, both real and virtual. Work could include the scientific exploration of material, finding new technologies, the crossing of techniques for new forms. Thinking through making is underpinned by a critical approach to artefacts and the discussion around them, stretching the language for the crafts, and investigating ideas of use in a broad sense. The interdisciplinary flow of material culture through current contemporary art and design practice puts our work at an axis in this discourse, and students extend the debate.

    The American curator, historian and theorist of the crafts Glenn Adamson wrote an essay in 2010 called Tooling up and Tooling Down, in which he said that innovation might currently be situated

    in a new way of working, rather than creating a new work. He continued: in the post-disciplinary condition in which young artists find themselves they sense that they have the permission (maybe even the obligation) to move laterally across fields of practice. A student in a ceramics department may well find herself making a video one day and a sculptural installation the next. She might even make a pot now and then.

    This flexible ambition is realised in the work of students exhibiting now. For example; an animated film about grass, unbelievably made of porcelain, and explored as film where the sun seems to shine on it, in its raw fragile state. One puts food and the vessel in harmony for extraordinary meals, another makes socio-political craft to coax the young and unwealthy. Many of them think about the human condition, playing with fear, the continuum between man and nature, or the particular events

  • that are testament to process, special to clay (or glass). Conveying the transcendental in planes of flat coloured glass, or the ornamental, in sculptures that recognise the spiral movement of history.

    Adamson again: . . . as welcome as this freedom may be, . . . you cant have meaningful movement between fields if the fields themselves are vacant. The word discipline itself remains deeply attractive to me. Yes, it may connote limitation, but its usually by being disciplined, focusing rigorously within a specific set of problems, that artists make headway. What this suggests, at least to me, is that the goal of inventing a new way of working requires some basis in traditional means of production. It is only by having at their disposal established skills, infrastructure, and forms that new, multivalent approaches can be created. To make a collage, you need something to rip up first.

    A few years earlier Kevin Murray, an Australian writer and curatori, described the impact of current gadgetry on childrens upbringing thus: With proliferating technologies such as Gameboys and iPods designed to fill every spare minute it seems unlikely that childhoods today have the kind of space necessary for developing a craft spirit But craft will continue to be relevant, while we still have bodies. Multimedia really only engages two senses: hearing and seeing. There will always be room for arts that engage the mysterious realm of touch. The tactile sense has the capacity to break through the prefabricated work of image and sound.

    The visceral sense of material, and clay in particular, means that the body features strongly for some current students sensual thinking researched through practice as well as in their

    Alison Britton


  • Degree Show 2016


    07writing. One writes that I am interested in how

    the sheer scale of my interventions challenges the physical engagement that my body has with the material. A bodily connection to material can include dance; Pina Bausch is a case study in one dissertation. Another is working on the narrative of the primal hunter, where the iconography is of rocks, meat, and fur.

    The sophistication and vitality of work made in C&G does not communicate the huge number of medium-specific BA courses that have closed in the past decade. We have been faced with depletion here and abroad in course provision the managers of higher education seeming to think, Why do they need to actually make things in a digital age? This misguided ideology now seems to be reaching into British childrens education also, and needs to be fought. The RCA embraces an increasingly international group of students the nineteen

    students graduating from Ceramics and Glass come from North America, Russia, East Asia, the Middle East, and across Europe. This exhibition is not just about these students, but for our disciplines, to convey more than the necessity of art and design in our culture, and the possibility of specialist craft study, to beyond that, reaching through boundaries and across categories. As one of them says, I tend to get lost between the definitions of art, craft, and design. I find those semantics boring and unnecessary.

    The final show for these students is to celebrate the beginning of something beautiful, viable and exciting, and to reveal the fundamental importance of making as a way of developing thought.

    iMurray, K, Craft Unbound: Make the Common Precious, Thames and Hudson, Australia, Pty, Limited, 2005



  • Degree Show 2016





    JAMES DUCK 1 5