Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Towards A Standard (Evening Standard) via 'musing'

Grayson Perry: We risk losing the art of ceramics

Louise Jury and Ruth Bloomfield

14.04.09Turner Prize winner Grayson Perryis leading condemnation of theUniversity of Westminster for closing one of Britain's top ceramics courses.

Perry, who transformed the image of pottery with his success, said there was a trend towards courses being axed. He added: "Ceramics is now an officially designated 'endangered subject'."

He said it mattered because the loss of practical skills left art to "that'll do" conceptual artists "with no clue as to when something is well done or not.

"I think hands-on traditional skills are very important in a visual arts world that is becoming increasingly weightless and slapdash.

"The digital generation need to have a go at something messy and difficult to remind them that you cannot always change the world or build a career at the press of a button.

"Students need to experience a craft which has venerable technical standards to compare themselves against."

Perry was one of more than 1,000 people to sign a petition against the closure of the department, which has an international reputation. Although few have the high profile of Perry, who won the Turner Prize in 2003, other ceramicists collected by world-class museums trained at the university's Harrow campus.

Alumni include Prue Venables and Walter Keeler and the current teaching staff include Edmund de Waal and Clare Twomey.

The department, which began as Harrow College of Art before becoming part of the University of Westminster, would have celebrated its 50th birthday in 2013.

Ceramics experts blame falling interest in the subject on the disappearance of pottery from schools and the closure of further education courses Westminster has an annual intake of 15 to 20 students but most courses require at least 30 to be economically viable.

Sally Feldman, dean of the School of Media, Arts and Design at Westminster University, said she shared people's dismay that the course was "currently unsustainable".

She said declining numbers of students had forced many courses to close, and that the subject needed: "a small number of viable centres of excellence to be created, each with a critical mass of students.

"The Government has a role to play in bringing UK universities together with industry to make this happen."

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