Ceramic Contemporaries Exhibitions: past, present and future
This seminar was developed as a means of reviewing the position
of ceramic exhibitions in the activities of Nache. In order to place
the debate in context, a paper was presented on the history of Nache
exhibition development; issues arising from this provided an agenda
A second paper was presented detailing the most recent Nache exhibition,
'Ceramic Contemporaries 3', its development and instigation.
The seminar was put together by Alex McErlain and Martin Smith for
the Nache events committee.
Martin Smith chaired the seminar.
To encourage wide ranging debate in relation to the topic
To discuss issues relating to the current exhibition
To formulate proposals for the future of Nache exhibitions
Edinburgh College of Art
Manchester Metropolitan University
J. Bedford - Jones
University of Cardiff
University of Westminster
University of Wolverhampton
Bath Spa University College
Manchester Metropolitan University
Phil Sawdon - David Scott
Loughborough University School of Art & Design
Royal College of Art
Canterbury Christchurch University College
Liverpool Hope University
Summary of the points raised in debate
- The exhibition presents ceramics as an exciting possibility for
- During recent interviews students were aware of the CC exhibition;
many have seen it and are better informed about current ceramic
- The exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to kick start a career
as a maker
- The exhibition has raised our own (staff) self esteem
- We are collectively responsible for graduates who produce objects
and it is obvious that we should show the objects to promote what
- We should seek the graduate point of view about what they gained
from the exhibition
- The competitive application system is a risk worth taking
- Do some graduates perceive this show as too high a standard and
not worth submitting for
- If applicants had been turned down once before (CC2) perhaps they
did not apply again
- Did CC2 colour perceptions of CC3 and have an effect on application?
- Is the education jargon on promotional material off putting to
- There are now lots of outlets for graduate work which CC3 competes
- If we made final year students ineligible would it give the exhibition
a more professional profile. Would we lose out by doing this
- The possibilities of 'one year on' show.There are a number of
one year out graduates in the exhibition
- If we stay with the exhibition idea the announcement of the show
is not early enough.The timing of announcing is crucial for submissions
- Courses are getting better at informing past students; can all
courses look at how to improve the application
- Student poverty is an issue in relation to applications
- A prize of a residency opportunity may be worthwhile
- Is there potential for the exhibition to be student led rather
than staff led? Should the show be in a warehouse type of venue.
Would a greater student involvement produce a better show
- An event developed by a research fellow was cited as a way of
looking at how we might bring in student participation
- The touring element will enable current students to see the show
- The exhibition has promoted the subject in the outside world
- The level of interest in the show is now very good
- The committee has turned down other venues who wanted to take
the CC3 exhibition, there being no space left in the calendar
- The merger of Arts Council and Crafts Council will bring forth
opportunities for crafts in many new venues
- The issue of representation of courses in the exhibition, people
are now looking more at league tables
- Is the show intended to profile the institutions or the subject?
The concern should be a Nache activity for the promotion of ceramics
- There is no desire to present the 'best of shows', New Designers
is taking that role. Perhaps there is scope for this type of representation
on the website
- Concern over the profile of ceramics in schools. The exhibition
is keen to promote the activity of ceramics to schools through the
- Public institutions /galleries with an education policy may be
helpful to Nache exhibitions
- Can we develop the idea of devolving the administration of exhibition
to others eg a museum or gallery which is set up to do this. What
is the appropriate role for Nache in this situation
- Comment was made on the level of staff involvement in organising
the exhibition and the amount of hard work
- Being the chair of a national event was good for a department's
- 30 days replacement teaching has come out of staff involvement
in the CC3 committee
- The cost of staff involvement in the committee with no return
via representation in the show
- Professionalising the Nache organisation has been ongoing and
now must be taken further
- Politically, having work in the public arena is a powerful
tool for arguing our position
- Do we want something, not necessarily in this format that
moves us forward?
- Should we bring forward international jurors
- Could we bring in European students?
- Opportunities for ceramic education in Europe is declining
- Scandinavian colleges have a loose organisational network
- The Nache website has the potential to develop
- We have had good feedback from the website 'this is a really
good ceramic resource'
- Students look at the website a lot
- Digital means could take over some of what we are trying to do
with the exhibition
- The issue of high applications and few selections, from
some courses was discussed
- Could the website take on the role of course representation. Finance
could come from paying for representation. The consensus was that
this is a good idea
- Could there be an annual selection for exhibition on the website
- Is there potential for an invitational section in the exhibition
to promote the success of ceramic H.E.? The politics of this could
- Could we look to involve graduates who have benefited from previous
- How could Nache develop professionally? Could we fund a
research fellowship, an individual placed in one of the institutions?
How does research and use of the Nache archive relate to this
- Could Nache afford to pay a P.R. person
- Developing a partnership with a major museum or institution may
be a useful possibility
- Bideford and Rufford may present opportunities. A project officer
is to be appointed for developing the national centre for ceramic
art in Bideford.The officer is to be based in the V&A
- Could we invite people from major galleries and institutions to
a seminar in Stoke to debate the future potential of CC exhibitions
- A touring exhibition group made up of curators of major museums
and venues in this country is known to exist. Mike Sixsmith is
the chair, should we invite?
- A seminar would have to be arranged very quickly as the Stoke
CC3 dates are May & June
- It is considered worthwhile to develop future ceramic contemporaries
exhibitions, possibly in a new form
- To investigate the possibilities of developing an exhibition
in partnership with a major gallery, museum or institution
- To hold a seminar with invited participants from likely partner
institutions, to debate the "future potential of ceramic
contemporaries exhibitions". The seminar to be arranged to
take place at the City Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke on
Trent, during the course of the CC3 exhibition. The executive
to instigate the seminar and form a small working party to explore
ideas and bring a report to the meeting of Nache in November 1999.
Kyra Cane to be a member of the working party. Other members to
- The Nache website should be developed to show the work of some
graduating students from each institution
- To explore making professional links with PR and fund raising
Report prepared by Alex McErlain and Martin Smith
The story so far - Nache history
1983 David Hamilton calls a meeting at the Royal College
of Art for the course leaders of BA & MA ceramic courses. As
a consequence of this meeting Nagpeca was founded (The National
Association for Graduate & Postgraduate Education in the Ceramic
Arts) _To promote the ceramic arts and education in the U.K._ 24
1984 "Peter Simpson (Camberwell), chair ? "
1st Exhibition held at The Polytechnic of Wolverhampton ?
1985 David Murphy (Manchester) chair
2nd Exhibition 'British Ceramics 1985' Manchester Polytechnic 5-25th.
Constitution & Bylaws of the association published.
1986 Jeff Salter (Wolverhampton) Chair
3rd Exhibition The Polytechnic of Wolverhampton.
Exhibition included trade displays.
1987 Chair David Vaughan?
4th Exhibition Brighton Polytechnic 22Oct - 6 Nov
1988 John Cook (Leicester) Chair
5th Exhibition 'Ceramics 1988' Leicester Polytechnic 21 Sept - 6
Sponsorship : ú7000 raised.
Event :30 Sept& 1 Oct Demonstrations and talks with Carol McNichol;
David Frith; Henry Pim; David Roberts.
Publication of an accompanying booklet describing 24 courses
1989 Neil Malkin (Staffs) Chair
6th Exhibition 'Graduate Ceramics 89' Hanley Museum Stoke-on-Trent
1990 Mike Hose (Cardiff) Chair. Post of chair from now on
to be held for two years.
7th. Exhibition 'Saying it With Clay' Glasgow school of Art. 6-27th.
At a meeting in Glasgow the decision was taken
to change the name of the association and
to cease holding the annual exhibitions.
Nagpeca becomes Nache (National Association for Ceramics in Higher
Education) recognising the development of new courses and preparing
to draw in higher level non-degree courses.
Formation of exhibition sub-committee chaired by Martin Smith (RCA)
to develop a higher profile exhibition.
Exhibition developed in association with the V&A museum.
1991 Constitution rewritten by Mike Hose
1992 Alex McErlain Chair
An executive committee formed to deal with the increasing amount
1993 The first 'Ceramic Contemporaries' Exhibition held
at the V&A .
"Catalogue published, prizes awarded."
Associated symposium 'Constructing a history for a living practice'
1994 Kathryn Lawrence Chair.
Constitution amended to enable courses from the republic of Ireland
to join the association.
First Conference held in Belfast _Research Matters_
Course membership directory published for reference only.
1995 Nache Mission statement developed.
1996 Henry Pim Chair .
'Ceramic Contemporaries 2' (chair Jane Gibson, Bath) held at the
V&A. Catalogue published.
Associated symposium 'Learning & Dreaming' held at the V&A
1997 Second Conference held in Dublin 'Skill in Education,
Education in Skill'
Nache Website established on the internet.
Formation of an events sub committee to develop seminar, lecture,
chair Alex McErlain (Manchester)
1998 Jane Gibson Chair
Seminar held in Edinburgh 'The potential for use of museum collections
in ceramic higher education courses, with particular reference to
the Victoria and Albert Museum spiral project'. report published.
Seminar held at Bath Spa University- 'Design competitions,industrial
liaisons and the demise of the ceramic questions in the Royal Society
of Arts' report published.
1999 Ceramic Contemporaries 3 (Chair Phil Sawdon Loughborough)
at the RCA & touring to Stoke, Belfast,Bideford, Edinburgh.
Seminar held at Manchester Metropolitan University
'Ceramic Contemporaries Exhibitions, past, present and future'.
2000 Chair David Scott (Loughborough)
Third Nache conference to be held in Birmingham, November 2000.
The development of Nagpeca & Nache
Seven annual Nagpeca exhibitions held between 1984 - 1990
Three triennial Ceramic contemporaries exhibitions held in the 90's.
Nagpeca exhibitions were the responsibility of the host institution
to organise and display. Each course was responsible for transporting
the work to and from the exhibitions. Some loose arrangements began
to be made to have collection centres to deliver groups of work
in one van. By the time the exhibition was held at Leicester the
task was becoming onerous.
With Ceramic contemporaries exhibitions it was recognised from the
outset that a group of people from differing institutions would
have to initiate the exhibition. Some outside assistance was brought
in and some of the tasks were undertaken by a paid administrator.
CC3, a touring show, became very demanding of the organisers time.
(This has coincided with the increase in student numbers and the
decreasing staffing levels on member courses).
The Nagpeca exhibitions showed work from all member courses, the
limits on numbers of graduates exhibiting being set numerically
(eg 8 pieces of work and three drawings) or by space allocation.
The individual courses chose what to send. The work was that of
students graduating that particular year.
The overall image was that of 'pick of the shows'
Ceramic contemporaries exhibitions were open to graduates from the
previous five years.Work was submitted by slide and selected by
an invited panel of judges. The image of these shows became 'what
is judged to be the best new work happening now'
The change to Ceramic contemporaries exhibitions brought forth
the possibility that some courses would not have any graduates represented
in the exhibition.This was accepted as part and parcel of handing
over the selection to an independent panel of judges.
CC1 had graduates from 27 member courses included.
In CC2 and 3 this representation has declined significantly (see
||No. of exhibitors
||No. of courses represented
||No. of courses listed in catalogue
When the first Ceramic contemporaries exhibition was held it was
recognised that in order to make it financially viable courses would
have to encourage applications from as many of their graduates as
possible. In the event close to 700 applications were received (from
an anticipated 1000).
CC2 anticipated increased applications based on the premise that
the exhibition was now 'known' about. In the event applications
fell to 461
CC3 applications were down again to around 410.
The Nagpeca exhibitions had produced some publication material
associated with the exhibition most notably the information pack
produced at the Leicester exhibition in 1988.
The Ceramic contemporaries exhibitions brought forth illustrated
catalogues, complete with scholarly essays commissioned specifically
for the publication.
The issue of financing the exhibitions has always been difficult.
Early Nagpeca exhibitions were funded partially by the host institutions.
By the time of the Leicester show a long list of sponsors (contributing
to the value of £7000) was appearing in the credits.
Ceramic contemporaries exhibitions drew funding from a variety of
applicants provided funds in the form of an entry fee (£10-15);
courses were asked to contribute £25 each;
grants were obtained from bodies such as the Crafts Council;
the friends of the V&A put up £4000 prize money; other
sponsorship in the form of prizes came in.
The audience for the Nagpeca exhibitions was largely undergraduates
from member courses.A point raised at the time of change to CC exhibitions
was the need to broaden the audience.
The audience for Ceramic contemporaries 1 exhibition was monitored
at 11000. Many courses brought undergraduates to the symposium and
to see the exhibition.
CC2 was not monitored (impossible situation)
CC3 is touring and should reach a wider (geographically) audience.
Issues to debate
Is it still viable for individuals to devote so much time at such
a high financial cost to instigating an exhibition?
Are there any alternative means of achieving this.
Why is interest in participation in decline?
Is it necessary for the exhibition to be representative of ceramic
higher education courses?
What is the feeling about investing money in the exhibition without
any course representation? (Money from fees and money for organisation
Why have applications to the exhibition fallen?
Why in CC3 did 30 Nache member courses manage to encourage less
than 10 applications from five years worth of graduates?
Is this achieving the appropriate level of circulation for the
Are there alternatives which may be less costly?
Should Nache invest in a publication which promotes courses through
Is it still worthwhile for courses to invest money in the exhibition
Is the exhibition achieving the aim of widening awareness of ceramic
Is it making any difference to course applications?