Research Projects and Centres
Tradition and Innovation
This research project by Tessa Peters, senior lecturer in art and design history at the Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, was presented both as an exhibition and a book charting the development of British ceramics from the 1960s. It focused on the influential pottery course founded by Victor Margrie and Michael Casson in 1963 at Harrow School of Art, later to become part of the University of Westminster. Starting with the origins of the course, the project considered how and why it was established and the subsequent development of its pedagogy as a Higher National Diploma and ultimately a degree course.
The exhibition Tradition and Innovation: Five Decades of Harrow Ceramics, curated by Tessa Peters, was shown at Contemporary Applied Arts in London, April-June 2012. It celebrated the world-renowned course, which came to a close in 2012 having by that time trained around 820 students. The exhibition comprised the work of almost 60 artists from the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia, who had either taught or studied at Harrow. A range of contemporary ceramic concerns were represented by artefacts, images and videos - functional tableware, abstract vessels, figurative sculpture, architectural ceramics and site-specific installation, as well as conceptual works in performance and video - to demonstrate the appeal and influence of this extraordinarily versatile discipline. The show was accompanied by an 80-page illustrated book which featured contributions by Peters, Victor Margrie, John Houston, and Christie Brown.
Both exhibition and publication drew upon a network of connections involving significant figures in ceramics from the early 1960s onwards, including the creative and pedagogical influences of members of staff such as Colin Pearson, Walter Keeler, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Mo Jupp, Gillian Lowndes, Alison Britton, Richard Slee, John Houston, Nigel Wood, Daphne Carnegy, Kyra Cane, Sarah Scampton, Christie Brown and Steve Buck; notable visitors such as Hans Coper, David and Bernard Leach, Julian Stair and Clare Twomey; and the contributions of ex-students including Janice Tchalenko, Jane Hamlyn, Sarah Walton, Pru Venables, Alice Mara, Philip Lee, Daniel Smith and Marie Hermann, to name only a few.