A collection of ceramic plates made during 2010 and 2011 as part of research into the artist teacher in middle schools.
My research project is into the role of art practice in the working lives of art teachers. I have been interested in ideas about demonstrations as a form of art practice.
I had used demonstration pieces in the classroom to interpret the work of artists and I had worked with visiting artists during the research project. To complete the project, I decided that I should be my own artist in residence and set about making a body of work in the classroom to exemplify an artist’s working method. Pottery has a tradition of being used to commemorate and I wanted to make a body of work that memoralised the closing of the middle school that I was working in at the time. All of the students in the school made a commemorative plate and we also made plaques for the staff.
The research into the history of ceramics increased my understanding and this informed my teaching. The plates reference visits to the Lowestoft Porcelain factory display cases at the Norwich Castle Museum, and a number of visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum ceramic galleries. I also visited the Attenborough collection of Picasso ceramics in Leicester and the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts.
ach plate demonstrates a technique in ceramic, makes some reference to the history of art and explores elements of biography. I was interested in the history of my own learning about art and how this related to teaching art in classrooms. The work explores the drawing enthusiasms of children and the sort of thing that I did as a child. It also considers the relationship between these interests and the more structured ideas of ‘art education’.
The plates were made during the last year of a middle school which closed in 2011. They were made before, after and in any gaps during the school day. Some were made before an audience as demonstrations and many were used as teaching aids in lessons. The children were aware of the project and we involved several groups in making sprig moulds for their own plates. Many of the toys, sweets and other objects on the plates are from moulds made with the children.
I would like to thank Shirley Utting and David Sturman. They helped me in the making of these plates and in making plates and ceramic murals with the pupils at the school. I would also like to thank the students and staff of Gisleham Middle School for their support.