Material Matters: Clay

The Art School’s research programme, Material Matters, explores specific materials used by artists, carvers, conservators and researchers on the Art School’s specialist courses. Having previously examined wood and pigment, the material currently under the spotlight is Clay.

In October, the Art School presented the Material Matters: Clay symposium, an online, one-day event featuring artists, craftspeople, art historians and other experts concerned with clay. The full programme list is available here.

Symposium presentation: Clare Twomey, British artist, “Making material: Processes and practice of a monumental work”


With over 100 UK and international delegates, we were delighted with the positive response the symposium received and pleased to hear some fantastic feedback about our speakers

A really interesting mix of practical and theory.”

“I came to the day with a practice already strongly linked to process and materiality, and the presentations gave me insights on how to fully embrace this and be braver! … I went away with lots of avenues to explore and research further.”

“To know the science of the structure of materials we use creatively feeds so much into the creative process.”

“It really stretched my thinking on clay from a scientific, fine art, craft, conservation and political perspective.

Symposium presentation: Dr Javier Cuadros, Natural History Museum, “What on Earth is clay?”


Recordings of many of the presentations are now available to view on the Art School’s YouTube channel and further resources related to the talks, including publication lists, journal articles and short films, can be accessed on our Material Matters website.

We wish to thank all the wonderful speakers who took part in the symposium and all those who attended throughout the day.

Symposium presentation: Emma Simpson and Tony Minter, “Matching and making: Brick selection for conservation repairs”


To mark the Material Matters: Clay symposium, the Art School has published a self-guided walking tour of London, taking in both notable and hidden examples of clay in architectural history. Designed by Art Histories Lecturer Dr Michael Paraskos, with artwork by Wood Workshop Technician, David MacDiarmid, the tour takes the historic collaboration between City & Guilds of London Art School (originally called Lambeth School of Art) and Doulton & Co. as a starting point, and takes in the Durning Library, Beaufoy Institute, the Doulton Factory, and Brunswick House. Crossing the river you can then learn more about Harrods, the Courtyard and Ceramic Staircase of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Royal Albert Hall.

Anyone interested in following the tour may download a pdf of the map and guide here.



Part of the Material Matters research platform, the Materials Foyer is a carefully-curated reference library in the heart of the Art School where students can learn more about what materials mean to conservators, carvers and artists, currently focusing on clay. The Materials Foyer includes work from students, tutors and alumni from our Fine Art, Historic Carving and Conservation departments. A detailed catalogue of the collection can be viewed here.

Further details of our Material Matters research programme can be found on our Material Matters website.


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