Social worth of clay and ceramics-symposium

CAL programme entry;

Simeon Featherstone

The Social Value of Clay

During a prolonged period of austerity and a diminishing welfare state, artists and makers continue to push participatory and collaborative practice to establish and connect with the world around them and increase access to the arts. Using clay as currency, Simeon will talk about his practice Parasite Ceramics and how he develops social capital through acts of participation, exchange and legitimacy.

Simeon is co-founder Parasite Ceramics, a versatile ceramic practice based in East London with experience in the fields of graphics, ceramics, product design, and community engagement.

One of the talks I attended was by Simeon Featherstone in which he discussed a variety of socially targeted commissions. one that resonated with me was one which highlighted the work of the British Ceramics Biennial which sought to bring back some of the ceramics industry from China in 2013 and to raise the awareness of the industry in the area.

With new printing technologies at his disposal, Simeon created a series of tiles that reflected the importance of both the machine and the hand. As technology advances, and becomes more available, the appreciation of traditional skills such as china painting mustn’t diminish. The Burslem China Painters, the only china painting class left in Stoke, were invited to create a series of plates with their own interpretations of the tile industry, this being a reversal of the usual process of reproducing original hand painted decorations. The Pavilion Institute also included audio of a career spent in china painting and gave an insight into working in Spode, Royal Doultons and beyond.

I did feel quite cynical though during the talk about what level of exploitation was happening within the communities 'Parasite Ceramics' were involved with. But that may just be because of the links with my own current work.