Round Table: Glazed Expressions (2015)

The Hepworth Wakefield, 6 June 2015

Organised by the Department of History of Art and The Hepworth Wakefield, Glazed Expressions: Contemporary Art and Ceramics was a roundtable held on Saturday 6 June 2015 at The Hepworth Wakefield, to coincide with the first retrospective in the UK of the work of Greek-American artist and feminist icon Lynda Benglis, which ran at The Hepworth Wakefield from 6 February to 1 July 2015.

Since the 1960s, Benglis has explored the materiality of a wide range of media including wax, polyurethane, bronze, textiles, glass, and clay. She trained as a ceramicist early in her career, returning to the medium in the 1990s, and the exhibition foregrounded this work as an integral part of her practice.

This roundtable used Benglis' ceramic works as a point of departure for looking at the use of the medium by artists working outside of the field of craft in the UK. The backdrop of Studio Ceramics provided a further context, given The Hepworth Wakefield's continuing exploration of British Modernism and the proximity of York's recently established CoCA (Centre of Ceramic Arts).

However, while the relationship between British Studio Ceramics and its place within modernist discourse is an important reference point for many contemporary artists working in the UK today, others take their influence from elsewhere, for example the Californian Funk ceramics of artists like Keith Arneson or the expressionist works of Peter Voulkos.

This roundtable brought together contemporary practitioners whose work uses ceramics, in order to encourage discussion around a series of questions: Why are ceramics so visible within contemporary artistic practice today? What is the role of the collective or workshop model in contemporary practice? What is the relationship between craft and art now? Is the ceramic medium wedded to traditional forms?

Dr Sam Lackey (curator, The Hepworth Wakefield) gave the Welcome and the event was chaired by Dr James Boaden (University of York). The Speakers were Aaron Angell (Troy Town Art Pottery), Emma Hart, Phil Root (The Grantchester Pottery), and Jesse Wine.

Watch a video of the whole of the Glazed Expressions roundtable:

And watch a video showcasing Lynda Benglis’ exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield:

Glazed Expressions was a collaboration between the University of York and The Hepworth Wakefield, and was supported by The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

Main image: Lynda Benglis at the Hepworth Wakefield

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