BEYOND THE WHEEL: Sculptural ceramics from the Ceramics Collection, Aberystwyth University.

Mehefin 21 June– Medi 26 September, 2021

In 2019 the School of Art was invited to participate in a sculpture project, organised by the charity Art UK, to digitise and make accessible online 170,000 sculptures from public collections. The School of Art was asked to put forward a list of sculptures from the collections for consideration following the Art UK guidelines.

Choosing ceramics gave rise to much debate, firstly, ceramics based on ‘functional’ forms were not to be included. The word ‘functional’, often used to describe domestic ceramics, is perhaps more usefully replaced by the term ‘utilitarian’. It can be argued that all ceramics have a function, including that of being decorative and considered as ‘art’. Also ‘figurines’ (clay figures slip cast in a mould), were not considered as sculpture while figures cast in metal were, perhaps highlighting the continuing low status of clay in the world of Fine Art.  In the end it was agreed that if an artist considers their work to be sculptural then it could be included.

This exhibition includes some figurative works made by women who trained at art colleges in the 1920s. Prof. Moira Vincentelli has suggested that clay was more accessible than metal, allowing them to develop their sculpting techniques. Artists began exploring the sculptural possibilities of the vessel from the 1960s, including Ruth Duckworth, Elizabeth Fritsch and Gordon Baldwin. Ashraf Hanna and David Binns continue this exploration, often with the gallery environment in mind. Meanwhile artists such as Anton Pazmandi, Gillian Lowndes, Judit Varga and Ewen Henderson explore the sculptural possibilities of clay in a much more abstract fashion.

This exhibition features a sample of what we consider to be sculptural ceramics from the Ceramic Collection. No doubt the debate will continue.

Work from the Ceramic Collection featured in this exhibition

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