For many centuries now, sculpture has been a form of dialogue: a way to keep tales of the past alive.

It is used as a symbol of praise or even a platform to perform romantic and in some cases, sexual acts.

So if society has given such privileges and beauty to this art, why are many educational institutions in the UK making their ceramics department the scapegoat in their attempts to save money?

 

Closure of UoW’s Ceramics Department

In London, a consultation has been set up at the University of Westminster, as to whether they will shut down their ceramics department.

According to The Telegraph, Grayson Perry, a Turner Prize-winning artist, among others, has protested against proposals to close Westminster University's Ceramics Department.

Sally Feldman, Dean of the Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster, has stated that although the department is truly valued by the University, it is simply not recruiting enough students to cover its cost.

An art like Ceramics requires lots of space for storage, and room for equipment such as kilns.

In response, a campaign called Save Harrow Ceramics has been established in an attempt to fight and keep the department running.

It is almost like a love story, where the dying – in this case the Ceramics Department, has people who love it, those against its closure, speaking out.

Pottery and its symbolic speech

Speaking of ‘speak’, pottery has always possessed the power of speech.

One kind of speech is the power to speak life through the act of creation.

For example, in Christian belief, man was ‘moulded’ in God’s image, like in the hymn that sings “you are the potter and I am the clay”.

Likewise, Egyptians believe that Khnum, one of the earliest Egyptian deities, was thought to be the creator of human children, which he made at a potter's wheel from clay, and placed in their mothers' wombs.

Another speech is best identified in the film, Ghost, where pottery speaks only of love, when the one scene Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze make love is instigated by a sensual act at the pottery wheel.

In the film, the process of pottery itself embodies a sexual characteristic, where the coming together of the elements – earth meeting water – is metaphorical of man sexually ‘meeting’ the woman.

It is all in the moistness.

Ceramic student on speaking through pottery

Susan Michael, a third-year Ceramics student at the University of Westminster, reveals a more interactive type of pottery speech.

She is currently working on a project, which was inspired by Leah Chishugi, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, who depicted her experience in a documentary “Rape In A Lawless Land”.

"It is not normal for women to suffer so much. We have to refuse to allow this suffering to continue,” The Guardian quotes Chishugi.

Like Chishugi, Michael feels that the story of the women still suffering abuse in the hands of the rebels in the east of Congo, is not spoken about enough.

Through her installation project, which will consist of 180 ceramic sculptures of heads at the end, she wants to put the story of these women back on the floor.

When asked why she feel pottery is worth fighting for, she replied, “It is an art that speaks for itself. It is like magic, and it is not given enough exposure.”

 

 

Photo by Andrew Otto
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Sculpture Speaks

By: Chinaka Iwunze