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Curating Ceramics: Online Collections, Community Building and Activism – Tue 2 Feb 2021

Curating Ceramics: Online Collections, Community Building and Activism


In 2020 the Shipley Art Gallery acquired the John Christian studio ceramics collection. Originally due to open as a new permanent collection this year, these plans have been put on hold due to COVID. However, to celebrate this exciting collection at one of the UK’s leading arts and crafts museums, you are invited join us for this, and a first event on the 26th January 2021, exploring ceramic collections and community, with leading international artists and curators.

This event is a partnership between Newcastle University, the Shipley Art Gallery and the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) Subject Specialist Network at York Art Gallery, and supported by Arts Council England.


2 February 2021 – 17:00-18:30

Discussion – Online Communities with artists Ayumi Horie and Gerald Brown

Ayumi Horie will discuss the projects, Pots in Action and The Democratic Cup as examples of online collections, community building and activism. She will consider ways in which ceramic collections can be reframed to draw out underrepresented histories and give agency to local communities, based on her belief in the ability of ceramics and art as a catalyst for connection, transformation and social change.

Horie’s project, Pots in Action was a thematic Instagram feed, documenting topics within ceramics and were guest-hosted by artists and curators all over the world. Retired in 2019 and now being translated into an open-source website, the project shared global knowledge, histories and cultures with 120,000 following. The Democratic Cup was conceived of as a slow activism project that used handmade cups to encourage people to become active and engaged citizens in democracy. The intent was to foster person-to-person civil conversations about social and political issues, creating cups to act as agents of social change by generating positive political discourse.

Gerald Brown will discuss her co-founded project, The Clay Siblings’ Project, a non-profit initiative providing free ceramic workshops around the America. The initiative aims to not only give insight on possible ventures and opportunities through clay, but change the overall view of who can be a practicing artist. They are committed to demonstrating that all people, regardless of race, gender expression, religion, socio-economic status or any other marginalized identity, have something valuable to give as well as gain from the ceramic community as well as the larger art world. In a landscape of diminishing access to material-led practices across the UK across both primary, secondary and tertiary education, Clay Siblings was created in response to similar issues in America; Brown will discuss the importance of demystifying the ceramic process, bringing fresh, new perspectives into the classroom and being a voice of hope for students who doubted their potential.

Who are the speakers?

Ayumi Horie is a full-time studio potter from Portland, Maine who makes functional pots, mainly with drawings of animals. In 2015, she awarded a Distinguished Fellow grant in Craft by the United States Artists and is the first recipient of Ceramics Monthly’s Ceramic Artist of the Year award. This year, 2020, she was awarded an Honorary Member at NCECA for “outstanding contribution” to the field. She has taught workshops and given lectures at many universities, art centres and residencies in the U.S. and abroad, including the Archie Bray Foundation, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Greenwich House Pottery, Penland School of Crafts, Peter’s Valley, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the Northern Clay Centre, and the International Ceramic Research Centre in Denmark. She has served on the board of directors at the Archie Bray Foundation and American Craft Council. Currently, Ayumi is now Vice President of the board of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Her work is in various collections throughout the US, including the Museum of Art and Design in New York City.

Gerald A. Brown is a Chicago Southside native, currently based in Philadelphia, PA. She received her BFA from Syracuse University, double emphasis in Sculpture and Ceramics. She has researched in Paris as well as furthered her studies at Penland and Haystack Mountain School of Craft. Brown is a current member of the art collective Vox Populi, curating shows and special programming. In addition, she is a teaching artist assistant with The Clay Studio’s Clay Mobile outreach program, one of the Board of Directors at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts and co-founder of the Clay Siblings’ Project.

Image header: Copyright Colin Davison

Tickets for the symposia are free. In respect of the time, effort and public funding that have gone in to developing the programme, you are expected to attend if you book a ticket. If for any reason you are unable to attend we ask that you cancel your ticket, so you place can be taken up by someone else. Thank you.

Event details


Tuesday 2 February 2021, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm



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