Laura Gray

​​Above: Musee de la Ceramique, Rouen​

In What Ways Are The Relationships Between Pottery And Sculpture Negotiated And Revealed In Contemporary Ceramics Practice?

Although the relationships between ceramics and sculpture have historically and regularly diverged and converged, they ha​ve not often been written about. This PhD, following the research undertaken in this area by Dr Jeffrey Jones, engages with the relationship between traditional pottery forms and sculpture in contemporary ceramics practice. Potters such as Edmund de Waal, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott and Julian Stair are engaging with the use of scale, multiples, installation, and site specificity that is more usually associated with sculpture rather than pottery. Yet the lack of critical engagement with this subject continues.

An important aspect of this relationship between pottery and sculpture is how they are displayed. This has largely been taken for granted, but this PhD will take a curatorial approach to this aspect of the research. Potters are already researching the nature of display in their work, an indication of the timely nature of this PhD. This research seeks, through an academic rather than a practice based approach, to illuminate these relationships.

Conference Papers

(2009) ‘Sydney Pavière and the Harris Museum & Art Gallery’, Elucidate, Tate Liverpool. Sydney Herbert Pavière arrived in Preston from London in 1926 to take up the post of Art Director and Curator at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery. A conspicuously dapper figure in Preston with his white spats and fashionably clipped moustache, Pavière was a strong leader who had a well-defined vision for the museum and the collections. This paper will present a curatorial biography and in doing so, will reinforce the importance of individual biographies to museology.

(2010) ‘Ceramics with Sculptural Ambition’, Revisiting the Art and Craft Divide, Sacramento State University, California, USA. A hierarchy continues to exist within the visual arts, but who is perpetuating it and how does is relate to the field of ceramics? This paper considers the art and craft divide through the lens of contemporary ceramics, specifically, the ambitions of potters to gain greater critical standing through the development of more ‘sculptural’ work.

(2010) ‘From Factory to Studio: the changing artistic and cultural contexts of the female potter‘, Women as Producers and Consumers in History, West of England & South Wales Women’s History Network Annual Conference. This paper explores how the change in the cultural and artistic contexts for pottery is echoed by the development of the role of women in the world of ceramics, from the factories of Stoke to the artist’s studio. As ceramics has sought for itself a legitimate place in the art world, so women have sought for themselves role beyond the decorating and designing given to them by the ceramics industry.

(2011) ‘No Place Like Home: Curating Ceramics in a Domestic Context’, 45th Annual NCECA Conference, Florida, USA. This paper will firstly will map the history of displaying ceramics in the domestic environment, from the porcelain rooms of eighteenth century Europe to the modernist High Cross House before turning to investigate the significance of how ceramic collections have been exhibited in the distinctive interiors of the house-turned-museum. Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, Chatsworth and Kettles Yard all provide interesting and important art historical contexts for the display of ceramics. They are museums and galleries, but retain the character of private homes. The domestic environment becomes a frame for the objects. This paper will examine the significance of that frame and the aesthetics of display and the importance both have for the status and perception of ceramics.​