Cardiff Museum (1) and Introduction to the Wunderkammer Field project

Introduction to the project; to the nature of collections, its acquisition, its taxonomy, presentation, housing, as well as our first visit to a museum.


We had an extensive and compelling 2 introductions to the project and nature of collections. From eclectic collection of all the possibilities in arranging and categorising collections: from alphabetical order, colour and material, size and description, geographical location, grouping by type and theme, artist or collector, taste and style.

Other artists or curators took these aspects even further, and layer multiple meanings and categorisation into one, exploring the new relationships created, such as Richard Wentworth with his Boost to Wham, Claire Twomey and her engaging interventions, or David Shrigley shining a critical eye on how objects are displayed  and what ideas are presented in public establishments.

Scrutinising and looking at museums and collections more deeply raised basic questions of what they are actually for, and what can we find in them or what can we learn from them.


Cardiff Museum was constructed later than any other major cities, as a status of newly established, industrial cities. Built together and alongside the the City Hall and the Court of Justice, as an essential part in the life of city and it’s urbanised community.
The classical building, build in modern industrial era is presenting a forward-looking ideas, showing the past but finishing with the ambitions of current workers, about the social progress, advancing to a female graduate.

The main art collection that the Museum holds is the acquisitions of the Davies Sisters. Their industrial father built the 2nd largest port of that time in Barry (after Cardiff).
Despite the extreme industrial landscape of then current Cardiff and the area, and the source of their inherited income, their choice in art was mainly based on romantic landscape, and mythical imagery and figures; seemingly to counteract the ugliness, desperation and fast progress caused by the rapid industrialisation.
Their collection show the middle ground between the current, very conservative art of the Royal Academy of Arts, such as Constable, and The New English Club and avant-garde with acquisitions like Monet, Rembrandt or Van Gogh. Other acquisitions include works by Walter Sickert, Augustus John, Rodin, Van Gogh or J.M.W Turner.

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This really makes the answers even more complex and raises more questions. Mostly about context and motivations for a collections. Through who’s eyes is the art collection reflecting the world they see. What is the art doing to them and what to public that see it. How the ethos of the building and the institution shapes the collections and ideas presented. ….

Field: External Collaboration – Week I

Exploring ideas behind Manifestos and creating our own one, in a group of student from across the whole CSAD.
Stimulating discussion and ideas with Ladybird Books postcards and creating a cake to represent our Manifesto


20160208_120430.jpgAfter an initial introduction to the External Collaboration part of our Field module, we were divided into a groups and handed a pack of postcards depicting book covers of classical children’s books published by Ladybird.
I ended up in a larger group of 6, with interesting and captivating people across the subjects, from Graphics, Fine Art and Illustration.
Choosing a card from the pack individually, depending on how it speaks to us and what ideas we can extract from the images.
I chose my one with the title “Garden Flowers” because I’m simply drawn to plants, have interest in caring for them and filling my living space with life, captured in their limiting plant pots.
However, the ideas that the image represented for me were even more interesting: speaking of a utopian life where the flowers have an abundance of resources, having an organism that takes care of all their needs and diseases. On the other hand, life of no choice, contained in set and limited space, in the mercy of the owner. Utopia is too close to dystopia. These ideas always make me thing of the heaven my parents often talk about. A perfect utopic place of NO sin and suffering; a place of no free will?

In fact almost all of us chose a card depicting nature, or animals; even a card “People at Work: the Postman” seemed to me like a snapshot of a creature in its everyday activities and habitat. This one interested me a lot from others, as it carried ideas around communication and work and how much these aspects of our lives changed in a generation, with the widespread usage of internet, and machines in workplace, etc.

After presenting the chosen cards to each other in the group, we had to chose one that could represented all of us, and present it with ideas arising to the whole class.
My group went with the “Garden Flowers” card I picked, as everyone was vaguely interested in nature, and I could talk about the card in depth, with ideas spreading around utopia-dystopia.


Grotesque inconsistencies – life Continue reading Field: External Collaboration – Week I

Field: Future Generations Conference I

2 day intense conference involving interesting workshops with lecturers from other subjects and fields exploring different ideas in art and design, life and future.
Talks, discussion panels and keynotes.


To begin our interdisciplinary collaboration, we had a stimulating conference for the whole first year students.
It was hectic and full on 2 days, with talks and discussions that were not so good and relevant, not mentioning anything about the proposed Future Generation bill or ideas arising from it, and 4 workshops which were more in point and engaging.

The first lecture I chose on Utopia gave me a further insight into theme I was always interested in, a brief tale throughout history showing ideas about utopia and dystopia in art and culture.
From Sir Thomas More’s novel of island ‘Utopia’ in 1516 to Karl Marx’s in 1875 and communism’s equal distribution of work and property, and Lenin’s adaptation and application of the ideas to harsh, totalitarianism of Stalin: from ideas of utopia to reality of dystopia.

Classic books that explore the ideas further in detail: Brave New World 1932 or Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949.

Bauhaus in 1919-1923 as an art school, manifesting utopia through well designed objects and art, which can influence users, changing the world for better through art and design.
Same time in America Buckminster Fuller – an architect, mathematician, philosopher and inventor is trying to design cars, houses, pods and structures that can help as many people as possible with the fewest resources, expressed in single design of a dome.

Or another American, Walt Disney, expressing utopian, dream and child like world of happiness and dreams, which later transform into typical white, capitalist dream of happiness sustained by surplus of products. More land, resources, products, new, exciting. Going as far as the exploration of moon and space.
This utopian almost reality shifts into more dystopian reality of environmental issues, economic crash, debt an power struggles between nations.
Followed by unrests and protests against governments and uneven distribution of wealth, and shortly after oblivious movement of happiness, experimenting with drugs, free sex, freedom from capitalism.
Where does our future lies in now. It seems we still live in the same time, just more broad and interlinked society and world, with more differences and individuality, controlled with our changing perception of privacy, closer to dystopian control and surveillance  of the masses.
In the same time a movement to try to be more connected on individual and independent basis such as crowdfunding as well as the recent Turner Prize Winner of regeneration community project in Liverpool.
The future really relies on us to try and shift the world slightly towards the utopian or dystopian world, but one will never be sustained for long.

3D designing bases/coasters

Using Rhino to 3D design and potentially 3D print bases for my thrown vessels.


As my exploration into my ideas for the project I want to look at new and emerging technologies and see how I could use them for my practice.
With our Techie Tuesdays lectures I had a good insight into this experimental field.

I decided to try and learn to use Rhinoceros 3D Software by making a relatively simple shape of circular bases with pillar forms, inspired by industrial structures, like cooling towers.
These object, potentially 3D printed, could carry my thrown vessels completing the look I’m exploring, as well as act like coasters.

Looking again, at Bechers’ photographs of industrial buildings and having few sketches and designs in my sketchbook, as well as measuring bases of my already thrown vessels, I decided to plunge into Rhino.

1 base 2 base
3 base 7cm

These are the first trials that came up from my play with Rhino; learning basic Rhino functions such as extrude, repeat, join, bend, etc.

I’m looking forward to produce more of them and 3D print them to see what adaptations they need.

I can vary the pillars/stilts in almost unlimited ways, as well as making the flat surface octagonal or a different shape.

Session II of Creativity and Cognitive Development in Arts by Sarah Smith

The majority of the session was receiving and reading a three pages extract individually.

We found out Arnheim’s argument that thinking without perceiving first hand is close to impossible. He strongly argues the importance of teaching arts in education, as artistic expression is a different way of reasoning. 


For a homework we were asked to write a 300 words blog post on how the text can relate to our subject.
As a ceramicist I’m probably more aware of the malleable, universal and interactive properties of a clay. These qualities are potentially essential for a creative/perceptual thinking and reasoning; perhaps similar to a language.
Expressing a person’s inner thoughts, or creating a new ones.
An interaction with clay would strengthen individual’s perceptional skills, essential to healthy and productive thinking in other fields of learning.

Also teaching about clay and techniques to control it, such as throwing are close to impossible to teach by written or spoken word. Even demonstration is not enough; direct perceiving and interaction of the individual with the material and technique is essential for her/him to comprehend.

Designing object which would stimulate someones creativity and perceptual playfulness is an interesting topic to explore, and I wonder how a cup, bowl or other pottery could have these stimulating qualities.


University studies in the past required their learners to spend time extending their artistic skills too, in the field of music, painting, craft or sculpture. Perhaps they could feel more the positive impact creative development have on overall human intellect.


I would like to know about more research in that topic and around Arnheim’s arguments.
However this first session of mine has disappointed me greatly, with too much time spending reading the few pages on the one idea, that could be read at home in a more suited atmosphere.
With no more contradicting arguments, research to back it up or any other facts.
It’s like the lecturer wanted to prove the argument; with no stimulating interactions, discussions, not even perceiving new ideas through listening. Rather just reading and watching the lecturer on their phone, laptop and running off.

Into the Fold – Harriet McCarmick

At this week’s ‘Into the Fold’ lectures, a recent MA Ceramics graduate presented her Degree work, future plans, Fireworks studios and participation at exhibition at ‘Made in Roath’


Harriet McCarmick is interested in investigation and using natural elements such as deer antlers, legs, feathers; as well as taxidermy, and translating all of this into ceramics, through abstracted forms.
These then acquire metamorphic, and narrative qualities – with help of using colour, shape, position and light.
Through this she questions how objects are perceived in space, and impact on the visual connections with natural world.

2D, sketchbook work was always important to her, and in MA, colour starts to creep into her work.20151016_12381320151016_124111
She is creating cast for all her objects, and casting using stained slip, never any glaze, but fires them slightly higher for her distinctive finish.


Harriet’s career in ceramics started when she missed her interview for Fine Art course, and came to the BA Ceramics at CSAD instead. She then stayed for her MA and now she is part of the Graduate Residency at the Fireworks Clay Studios in Cardiff.
Exhibiting her MA work in September, she is trying to exhibit as much as possible, setting up a gallery with other MA graduates at the Made in Roath festival.
Her ambition is PHD and possibly lecturing in the future, which I hope will be a success as I found her lecture and work very captivating.

It’s a great inspiration listening to a successful and interesting recent graduate, with a such great body of work, sketchbook pages and explorational journey.

Jen Hawthorn – Making Sculpturaly, Building Large

This Wednesday it was the first lecture of the Vicarious Wednesday series, where students and practitioners share their techniques with others through life demonstration of their skills.


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Spending some time in Sweden in her second year of BA Ceramics, Jennifer learned a technique, an adapted coil building for a large structures.
The technique involves pressing a coil inside and stretch/massage the outer wall up and in, fusing with the inside coil. Going too thin and fast might be a problem, but essentially this technique allows building of a large sculptures and structures relatively fast.
When not smoothed, the coils make an interesting, layered pattern.
In her workshop stretched over several weeks in Sweden, they produced a very large artefacts in a gallery space, from unfired clay, just to be thrown down and recycled again. However, this process was rather enriching in learning and letting go of own creations.
Jennifer tried to create a large scale bowl with this techniques, but even with strong dedication, the walls kept falling. Creating special supports/scaffoldings with the clay and same techniques, gave the bowl original characteristics, but haven’t fixed the problem fully.
The final piece, alongside the supported bowl, was an abstract form, almost as a resting creature you can lean on and relax with.

It was great to see fellow students of BA Ceramics try and present their new skills in front of others. Getting practice at presenting, confidence, and inspiration for others, creating a great community feel within the studio.

http://www.jenniferhawthornceramics.wordpress.com