| NACHE was founded in the early 1980s to promote ceramic arts
and education. It began in 1983 when David Hamilton (then ceramics
course Leader at the Royal College
of Art) called a meeting at the RCA for BA and MA ceramics
course leaders. This was in response to pressures upon ceramics
in education from BTEC courses and health and safety issues.
There was clearly a need for mutual support network and having
a forum for the exchange of ideas was crucial to the confidence
within the world of ceramics education. At this meeting the
National Association for Graduate & Postgraduate Education
in the Ceramic Arts (NAGPECA) was founded to promote the ceramic
arts and education in the UK. The obvious means of promoting
ceramics education was by exhibiting the results. The series
of annual exhibitions were to be organised by the leader of
the ceramics course at the host institution, beginning with
in 1984. Until 1989 the exhibitions followed a similar pattern.
Each member course of NAGPECA chose a number of pieces from
its graduate year according to the amount of space available.
The work was displayed together in their institution's section.
Perhaps the most notable show of the period was that at Leicester
Polytechnic organised by John Cook. Ceramics 1988 upped
the stakes and stopped any sense of forming a pattern to be
followed ad infinitum. It had £7000 of sponsorship from
a variety of sources including The Linbury Trust, the Crafts
Council and Wedgwood.
Following the experience of 1988 the issues of who the show was
being aimed at and why NAGPECA was doing them were hotly debated.
Members realised that the exhibitions were essentially insular in
their audience; students were coming to see the work of other students.
This in itself was a great advance for ceramics education but it
was not achieving the levels of promotion envisaged by NAGPECA.
In 1989 the exhibition of Graduate Ceramics 1989 was shown at the
& Art Gallery in Stoke on Trent. This was the first time
the show had ventured outside a college. In a subsequent meeting
in The Jolly Potter (an infamous pub in Stoke on Trent) the future
of the exhibition was one amongst a number of issues such as the
use of lead and a broader membership, and BTEC and Foundation courses.
Sub-committees were formed and sent off to investigate.
The turning point came in 1990. Two key papers The Future Role
and Membership of NAGPECA and the other on the promotion and
publicity called to attention concern for the 'possible deterioration
in the position of Ceramics, both within Art and Design generally
and in respect of its present and future position in Higher
Education'. Courses were experiencing fluctuating numbers and
there was further concern over the strong National Curriculum
support for Craft, Design and Technology. The rigours of school
teaching allowed little scope for young students to express
their ideas through plastic materials, a situation which could
be carried through to their Foundation or GAD courses.
To continue to promote ceramics using the current crop of graduates
left the fate of the subject in the hands of the students. The quality
of work could vary widely from year to year bringing into question
the effectiveness of an exhibition based on an equal spread of each
institution's graduates. It was decided to take a proactive role
with major ceramic exhibitions enabling the best of recent graduates
to show their work, along the lines of the Young Contemporaries.