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Re-locating ceramics: art, craft, design? A practice-based, critical exploration of ceramics which re-locates the discipline in the context of consumption, the home and the everyday

Shaw, Emma (2007) Re-locating ceramics: art, craft, design? A practice-based, critical exploration of ceramics which re-locates the discipline in the context of consumption, the home and the everyday. PhD thesis, University of Westminster, School of Media, Arts and Design.

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Abstract

The home is the territory of ceramics and crafts. It is a major site for the consumption, use and display of ceramics. However, ideas about the consumption of ceramics in the home have not been fully explored within its writing or practices. This research proposes a critical and theoretical framework for ceramics which relocates it in the contemporary context of consumption, in the home and the everyday (Attfield, 2000). This work draws on recent studies of material culture and consumption (Miller, 2001) which focus on the social role of the domestic object and which explore our relationships with things. This research is practice-based where my art practice is the main research method and methodology, art practice as research. The research began with a literature and contextual review of the field of ceramics and craft writing and practice. Conclusions drawn from this research identified the over-riding research question - what differentiates art, craft and design? and formed the basis of the Practice Manifesto which identified the issues and approaches the practical research would adopt, a starting point and a guide for the studio research. The completed practical research consists of a new series of work entitled About Ceramics... This work explores the meaning of ceramics, how ceramics are used, experienced, valued and understood. It rejects traditional concerns and approaches to the subject and instead adopts a critical, conceptual approach. The resulting artworks embrace elements from across the disciplines of art, craft and design. Although predominantly made up of industrially made objects, the work also contains a significant craft or hand-made element. As such, the work inhabits the spaces "in between" established categories and provides an alternative, hybrid model for practice. The work is made using ordinary, everyday, mass-produced objects and materials, privileging a lower class of objects and practices (such as DIY & home/ hobby crafts) previously excluded from the ceramics and craft fold. For example, Basketweave explores ideas about ceramics, DIY and home decoration and is made entirely from wallpaper (brick wall pattern). This work blurs the boundaries of art, craft and design - at what point does the decoration become the form, or the craft become art? Collection of Objects (about ceramics) explores ideas about collections and display and the status of objects. A collection of objects (which includes an enamel facsimile of an 18th century Sevres porcelain plate, a brick teapot and a wooden mug tree) are displayed on a pine kitchen dresser. The objects presented here are not valuable as craft objects or antiques, or for their aesthetic status, but because they have a relationship to, have been influenced by, or simply would not exist without ceramics. The central work in this series is What sort of mug do you take me for? It consists of a forest of over-sized mug trees (made from wood, MIDIF & pegs), each mug tree displaying a separate mug collection. This work further explores ideas about collections and collecting in the home, linking the processes collecting and display in the home with those of identity construction. Although ideas about taste and class, and about the aesthetic status of objects are central to this work, the objects employed here are not simply acting as symbols of class or as "bad" taste, they are also acting as signifiers of identity. This work demonstrates how the seemingly insignificant objects in our homes (such as a ceramic mug), and the ways we own, use and display those objects, play an important role in the construction and expression of self. This work invites its and your classification, asking What sort of mug do you take me for? In The Value of Things, Cummings and Lewandowska (2000) identify that the drive to collect is the same regardless of whether a collection is for the home or the museum. It is the hierarchies of art, craft and design which dictate the value and status of things. These hierarchies however are not in operation in the majority of homes and this makes the home an important site for understanding ceramics and for extending current concepts of art, craft and design. This research offers new perspectives and provides an alternative model for both writing and practice. It proposes a theoretical and critical framework for ceramics which relocates ideas about the subject in the context of its consumption and use in the home, linking ideas about the use and display of everyday domestic objects with the processes of identity construction.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Community:University of Westminster > Media, Arts and Design, School of
ID Code:8573
Deposited On:10 Sep 2010 14:42
Last Modified:10 Sep 2010 14:42

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