(If you're interested in becoming a student or would like information regarding exhibitions and masterclasses please visit this link)
Adopt a Potter & Clay College Stoke
Clay College Stoke opened its doors on September 9th this year, with a mission to teach practical pottery skills and design to an international standard and to create highly-skilled, self-sufficient and diverse makers.
During our two-year full-time Diploma course, students will be taught all aspects of throwing, hand-building, decoration and firing by Course Director Kevin Millward, who has over 45 years' experience as a professional potter, and visiting master potters and experts from all areas of ceramics. The focus will be on core skills and the use of materials but students will also study historical and contemporary design and process in all areas of ceramic practice, from studio to industrial, as well as business, sales and marketing skills. It is our strong belief that truly great ceramics come from the fusion of creativity with strong technical skill and our course combines the best of a university education with the rigour of a technical apprenticeship and as such is unique in ceramics education in the UK.
Alongside the two-year course, we provide evening classes for the local community as well as short courses and masterclasses and we intend to engage with local colleges and youth groups to help revive interest in pottery amongst the young. We are bringing the best of national and international makers to Stoke to share their knowledge and skills. This term we have Masterclasses by Ken Matsuzaki, Akiko Hirai, Lee Kang-Hyo and Clive Bowen.
Clay College Stoke was founded by Lisa Hammond and the Trustees of Adopt a Potter, with the support of the ceramics community, from master potters worldwide to the Stoke ceramic industry. Our supporters recognise that the future of British Studio Pottery hangs in the balance. The original aim of Adopt a Potter, which has been funding one-year placements with master potters and ceramicists since 2009, was simple: to help graduates to bridge the skills gap between the completion of higher education courses and the setting up and successful running of their own studios, by helping them to develop the necessary practical, technical and business skills. But the closure of our most important and established ceramic departments and the prioritisation of concept to the exclusion of practical skills in the remaining courses, mean that this model is no longer sustainable. Graduates no longer have the skills to go straight into an apprenticeship. At the same time, our Master Potters will soon be too old to teach. Our aim is to safeguard the future of studio pottery by providing a forum for our aging master craftsmen and women and the best of international makers to pass on their practical wisdom and tangible skills to the next generation of master potters.
The final part of our fundraising for the set-up of Clay College is needed to build kilns and a kiln shed. We want to give our students the opportunity to learn how to build their own kilns from master potters. We would like to build gas, wood and experimental kilns, something that has become very rare in colleges and universities in the last decade. The importance of this is two-fold. Building a kiln from scratch will give the students vital experience and understanding of how kilns and fire work and how oxidation and reduction processes create ceramic. Secondly, firing with live-flame kilns using a variety of fuels changes the final work immeasurably, and depending on the skill of the firer, allows the potter to use this creatively. We want to give our students experience of this and the confidence to build on this experience in their own practice.