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Posted 06.12.17

Political narratives & Dada collage in masterclass by award-winning ceramicist

By Phillip Buchan

Professor Stephen Dixon and BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts Programme Leader Gayle Matthias

Award-winning ceramicist Professor Stephen Dixon, the V&A’s first ceramicist in residence, spent two days at Plymouth College of Art with BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts and BA (Hons) Ceramics & Glass students, leading a diverse schedule of practical demonstrations, one-on-one tutorials, masterclasses and guest lectures.

The acting Professor of Contemporary Crafts at Manchester School of Art led a guest lecture for students about his investigation of contemporary narratives in ceramics. His specific research interests include the British satirical tradition, commemorative wares, ‘pop’ culture, and the development of socio-political narratives in contemporary ceramics.  The majority of his work is figurative in nature, from figurines to giant ceramic busts.

“I really enjoyed the visit from Professor Stephen Dixon and learned so much from his lecture and workshops. His visit was insightful and inspirational. I’ll definitely be able to use some of his techniques in my own narrative work.”

– Lorna Yabsley, BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts student 

During his visit, Professor Dixon demonstrated monoprint ceramic techniques using clay slips, with hands-on opportunities for students to learn these skills. He also taught a masterclass around the theme of combining social or political narratives with ceramic decal production.

Students gathered printed images and text about social issues and political events, then compiled these images onto acetates for screen-printing. Transfers were produced, which were then juxtaposed and layered onto white ceramic plates to create Dada-inspired collages.

"It was really great to learn a new printing process that can be used on a vessel as well as a flat form. Such a simple and effective method.”

– Gail Stubbs, BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts student 

Professor Dixon said: “It was a great pleasure to visit Plymouth College of Art to deliver a ceramics and print masterclass.  The ceramics students were enthusiastic and engaged, and produced imaginative and innovative work of high quality, both in terms of adopting new printing techniques and in the incorporation of socio-political narratives.”

Professor Dixon was a Trustee of the Crafts Council from 2009 to 2013. His work features in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Arts & Design, New York, the British Council, the Crafts Council, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Museum of Scotland, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. He studied Fine Art at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Ceramics at the Royal College of Art.

Photos By Taylor Harford, BA (Hons) Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising & Editorial student. See more of his work on Instagram at @TaylorHarfordPhoto.