Dissertation Reflection

Throughout my writing there were lots of confusions, inspirations and changes. I had covered a broad range of subjects, research and authors that I intend to come back to in the future for further research of writing and making. I am in constant awareness of my findings through my every day life now as it applies to my practice. Although the world and myself, the creativity of connectivity, have been very challenging to filter.

I started my dissertation prep with the research of ‘Palimpsest’. As I continued to do more research and writing I changed to the subject to curation. Mainly because of my volunteer work at The Ken Stradling Collection, my work involves stewarding a gallery space, to be in good knowledge of each object and to understand the exhibition space; the connections objects have with different objects and spaces.

From stewarding at the Ken Stradling Collection I became a volunteer for Crafts Council working on the ‘First Decade Project’ (1972-82); a project focusing on digitizing objects and associated archival material from the first decade of the Crafts Council Collections. The project offers the opportunity to develop skills in collections and archival research, interpretation of archive material, oral history interviews, digital capture and preservation, cataloguing, museum standards of practice, and audience engagement.

This clearly made links with my field module that would follow me up for the end of degree exhibition show to help me understand the magic of presentation throughout curation of my own work, how I want to be seen, presenting myself at a professional standard, connecting to particular fields and how to incorporate my work with the diverse makers around me.

I also had volunteer work at the National Museum of wales as a tour guide for the ‘Fragile?’ exhibition, which strengthened my dissertation topic. Throughout the experience there were discussions about the curation of the contemporary ceramics exhibition and specific ceramic processes presented as well as having the opportunity to meet curators of the fragile exhibition and helping Phoebe Cummings put her installation together. Understanding the finished presentation of ceramic works fascinated me with the different connections and narratives the curators wanted to create within the time lines of each room depending on what objects were present. Besides researching and readings, the experiences have helped support and strengthen the curation application to my dissertation proposal at the time.

Although I had difficulty to know what subject title to concentrate on, throughout the days I was changing the title question every few hours from curatorship in ceramics to communication in ceramics, 20th Century influence on ceramics today etc. all these being very big questions to answer. I didn’t quite know how to cut down the broadness of the question to have one vital part that I can expand and talk about in deeper knowledge, which will also keep me engaged. As I read more, the more my question changed. All the different exciting opportunities to write about was positive but really made it difficult to push myself into finishing the proposal.

I want to be able to write about something that I can relate back to my work in the studio. In this instance the dissertation is ranging from ceramic material, form, surface, stacking, presentation, expression, playfulness, as well as observing the culture of curation globally.

I then settled on the ‘classifications of ceramics’, this covered the language and structure of ceramics, leading to application of ceramics in art, running into exhibitions and museums, allowing my self to place ceramics and possibly my work in the existence ceramics lives in today.

I started to find more confidence in my readings and findings for my dissertation through making lots of connections with different articles and books. I was looking at the end of ceramics, the exposure of ceramics in popular culture, the centring of ceramics in craft and fine art, as well as modern, postmodernism and contemporary movements. I started to question what is art now? There has been, and continues to be so much exploration, so much range and depth, where else can we extend art to? There’s the concept of waste art, a idea that exists in our head but doesn’t get produced.

I have always known, but always try to remind myself how important creativity is for an individual’s health and mentality. There is so much energy that exists within creative minds that needs to be nurtured and released into physical energy, otherwise the results can be frustrating.

Here is where I started to reconsider what I really wanted to be writing about, I really wanted to make my dissertation my own. I felt so disconnected with my writing by talking about ceramics classifications to the point I couldn’t face working on it as I never saw an end point. Who am I writing for? What audience am I speaking out to about the classification of ceramics? Writing needs to be more of a conversation between you and the reader with opinions directions and arguments.

I managed to speak to Jeffrey Jones about my writing for the dissertation and about his own writings that I had been researching. We touched upon interesting themes such as the loss of archive of ceramic conferences, innovative artist such as Keith Harrison, not hiding the working process and the people involved in his work – initials of people who helped in his work at the end. The issue of people who are creating the work for artists – issues of fabrication and acknowledgements. We then moved to the themes of my thesis with the difference of making and ideas. Speaking of whether the materials are originally sourced or bought. How ceramics has such a wide range of practices within itself, individuals may focus more on the firing process whereas others may only care about the making and leave the firing for somebody else to do for them. We spoke of Garth Clarks categories of Peasant Potter, Industrial Potter, and Artist Potter are all stages before resulting to studio ceramics seems to be the end result. This was very useful as I read the writing as though studio ceramics is coming to an end, rather than what Jones is really saying is that its the end stage of the stages before, not a decline.

I felt very unsure of my dissertation so chose to speak to another constellation tutor and a lot of the other students suggested Martyn Woodward. It was very useful to have conversation with Martyn as we both have interests rooting from anthropology, allowing the connection back to my writing, coming to the understanding of what I really want to be covering, understanding the placement of my work and the reason for its existence. After readings and historical context, I had found the roots of the argument and thesis I was looking for – the human experience within ceramics, the reason for it, the drive that it stimulates in a human mind, the reason for its placement in our existence and its place in the world. Why is it that I work in ceramics? And why I create the work that I create, reading my existence as a human through the work I make. The physical qualities of making linked with our mentality at the time of experience. Ceramic history really set up the chance for me to bring themes of my first chapter back into perspective, to give it more reason and appliance to what I’m trying to do.

This linked hugely to understanding my own practice in ceramics for why I am so passionate about the material, the work created in it and the existential impact it has on me and others who work in the material.





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