Clay networks: connecting to others through making, mapping and combination

Part of British Ceramics Biennial 2019 and ReStating Clay: Ceramics Communities Symposium 2019

Part One: Mapping
Can digital technology, so often associated with developing online networks, actually help to facilitate more meaningful connections to others if combined with making in clay?
Working with a 3d clay printer*, staff and visitors to the BCB across all four sites were documented in silhouette, pairing them up and creating digital objects which combine both profiles and recording first names. The process encouraged a curiosity and a finding of another who we may otherwise not have met. Individuals within the mass were documented and made physical, materialising the digital, demonstrating the networks that can be built through making and highlighting the valuable others in the objects we encounter.

Part Two: Combination
The community of practice connected to 3D print in clay is generous with shared knowledge – largely open source this shared knowledge leads to incredibly interesting work and objects – but how can we acknowledge the others that are present in the resulting objects?
An experimental residency at Spode began to interrogate through practice, issues of authorship, collective learning and collaboration. Responding to material, mould, people and context – developing a network of objects that begins to acknowledge the valuable (sometimes unseen) others ​in the work we do.
Digital objects contributed from the 3D print in clay community create a palette of forms to be adapted and combined before printing in moulds from the collection at Spode, made by highly skilled craftsmen and selected by young people from the YMCA in Stoke-On-Trent. In combining these multiple forms, moulds and selections, multi authored objects result.

The installation in the Spode China Halls was a documentation of each other that contributed to the project up until it reached Spode.  Those who gave advice, information, time, tips, support – who shared their knowledge so generously – were included via their silhouette in a series of printed objects, going some way to acknowledging their impact on our knowledge and therefore their contribution to the formation of our selves.

The list of authors of the project grows by iteration.


Thank you to all the authors** of the project as without you, this would have been impossible.

Authors: Henrik, Rhiannon, Evelin, Flemming, Ragna, Mette, Priska, Urmas, Lauri, Madis, Babette, Cerys, Geoff, Rudi, Annie, Duggie, Tom, Diane, Barney, Natasha, Alan, Eddie, Natalie, Chris, Linda, Corin, Peter, Pete, Sandy, Teresa, Ian, Sarah, Jenny, Gaby, Jo, Rich, Helen, Joe, Matt, Su, Stuart, Katia, Robin, Jan, Rob, Kris, Andrew, Alex, Anton, Beate, Carolina, Geiko, Julian, Lotte, Nazeneen, Oxana, Vitile, Jonathan, AnneMarie, Julia, Julie, Olivia, Rachel, Rebecca, Keeley, Dom, Eleanor, Eliot, Tracy, Nikki, Ivor, Duncan, Ingrid, Margo, Hamish, Lydia, Duncan, Cush, Alex, Rosie, Kate, Toni, Richard, Ingrid, Maddie, Ross, Sophie, Sarah, Holland, Pearl, Chloe, Hannah, Jess,  Guillaume, Lynne, Adele, Rebecca, Ella, Emmy, Martha, Jim,  Jayalaxshmi, Kath, Glenise, Ella, Jack, Rebecca, Sophie, Etti, Robin, Julie, Julie, Ian, Kim, Amelie, Charlotte, Ben, Leila, Sheena, Leah, Yvonne, Kat, Sarah, Jospeh, Darla, Ivan, Jennifer, Preston, Lucy, Alba, Steph and Josiah.

The work was on exhibition at Spode throughout the Biennial, but there were some specific dates for events during BCB where we were on site mapping and printing visitors – thank you to those that came along!

Residency period: Monday 2nd September to Saturday 7th September

Sunday 15th September, World of Wedgwood, 11-4

Sunday 29th September, Middleport Pottery, 11-4

Sunday 6th October, Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, 11.30-3.15

Sunday 13th October, Spode, 11-3.30


*This printer was built by Rudi Morris, Annie Crowe and Duggie Reid at Manchester School of Art, and developed from Jonathan Keep’s open source plans with detailed advice from Lauri Kilusk and Madis Kaasik of Estonian Academy of Art. Anyone interested can be sent our open source plans to enable building new printers.

**As a way of recording all authors on an equal basis, first names are only used.

Image credits: Jenny Harper