Friday, 26 December 2008

Material Culture Theory........

And Ian Hodders

A Christmas present! Archaeology Rocks!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Christmas!! A List of blogs and websites.

I have added a list of links. Notable for me in these are bibliographies which are contained in
Museum of London Ceramics and Glass Collections.

Michael Shanks ever changing blog

Edmund de Waals Website
He lead the way for making pots out of porcelain in the late 20th century.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008


I have been a knitter all my life , my mother taught me at 8 years old. I kniitted my first jumper at 10 years old 'a sloppy joe' of green acrylic. Lord knows where it went. I knitted my first aran cardigan at 13 years. There were loads of obvious mistakes in the panels but I still managed a whole garment. I continued knitting through my teens and twenties.I had a lull when my children were small, knitting the odd garment for them and the odd Kaffe Fassett inspired piece. I still have these.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Besides Pottery

I have been making knitted and felted jewellery exploring the use of materials other than metals for making jewellery.. It was something new in Plymouth. What this exploration has done is open up possibilities of the small sculptural objects, for using materials and processes not traditionally associated with the object. They are objects that contradict themselves I have knitted strawberries, made pendants for christmas presents, earings,brooches. If anyone should want a pattern I can write one out.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Excavations in the Donyatt Pottery

Coleman-Smith,R. and Pearson, T.(1988) Excavations in The Donyatt Pottery. Oxford, Philimoore.

This book is one of Phil Hardings, from Time Team, favourite books. Also one of mine - as it highlights, with the artefacts themselves, the emergence of modern forms of pottery and the transition from medieval to modern.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Tableware, the Studio Pottery Movement and modernism.

The studio pottery movement is a loose term for what was essentially a movement for, (what was condisidered at the time)my parenthesis, a traditional, non-industrial revival of handmade pottery, made in small studio by a small number or a lone potter(this definition is Edmund De Waals- On-line Rufford Essays). It was started in the 1920's by Bernard Leach who was a committed, focused activist. Since then attempts have been made to define the studio pottery movement within the terms of modernism and it has been difficult to locate this movement within the modernist canon. However, the research that I am doing into the origins of the ceramics that we use now, shows that the beginnings of the modern period,
c1650, the early industrial revolution, is when our everyday ceramics begin to emerge. Given that the early studio potters were making tableware within western styles, notably Michael Cardew,(Picture with some of his early pots from Winchcombe pottery, earthenware, slipware) even though they loooked to the past for inspiration they were making a 'modern' product.


They made teacups and saucers, plates. These had only been in common usage at the time from c1750 when mass production became established. Indeed, these forms , by 1920 had only been around for 170 years. Not long when thinking about history. This is the paradox of the early studio potters. the forms that they reproduced only became commonwith industrialisation. Despite, the different meanings and roots of the modern, modernism, these potters can begin to be seen as working within a 'modern tradition'. If such a notion is at all possible.

Monday, 24 November 2008

My Research at Plymouth City Museum

These sherd were dug up in excavavtions at Plymouth and reported on in

Gaskell-Brown, Cynthia (ed).(1979) Castle Street: The Pottery, Plymouth Museum Archaeological Series, Number 1. Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth.

These are probably some of the first handled, individual ceramic drinking vessels to be used in Plymouth. Up until this time, circa 17th century, only around 350 years ago what were people using to drink? They just didn't have individual drinking vessels. So this vessel came into being only approximately 360 years ago. It is well documented how the teapot was introduced but not the cup/mug, the individual handled ceramic vessel, its origins are less clear, and its introduction does not seem to be a watershed like the teapot. Maybe this is why artists often refer to traditions because the histories of these vessels are often unclear.

New Work at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton

Non specific vessels which are thrown in different clays. Real fun to make.I love the black stoneware clay.

Also a series of bowls and a set of shelves with teapots and mugs. I have started to alter the mugs

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

New Directions

My work is about stability and change; about the relationship between the past and the present; the relationship between people and objects; I have always been a maker of objects. My work refers to domesticity , eating and drinking, specifically tea drinking. Directly and indirectly these objects become loaded with meaning because of these activites and it is these meanings which intrigue me, push me onto ask questions which cannot be answered solely by the practice of making these objects.

Having graduated from Plymouth College of Art and Design in 2006
I now rent a small shared studio space in Plymouth. I have only recently started to make tableware and have spent the last couple of years finding a new direction and thus have changed my work.

For me, there is a huge history behind these everyday objects that I make. I have a lifelong association with them at the very least and they hold a special place in my life. I have used them on a daily basis everyday of my life and as a child played with plastic or miniature ceramic equivalents. They are daily constants in my life, some objects, even people, come and go but the mug/cup and teapot have stayed, not only is there a lifelong personal continuity here but a historical one. And as such they hold a special place in the cultural history of western societies. They tie us to the past whether we are aware of it or not. Whether someone chooses to use a teapot or not is not the issue here they still exist within the repertoire of everyday western objects.
I have always been beguiled by cups and teapots I have been making tableware on a pottery wheel and by slipcasting. I have been constructing a social biography of an everyday object which is still in use, the cup/ mug , the individual handled drinking vessel - a genealogy of an everyday item according to Michael Shanks is a pragmatogony.

My research shows that it is well documented how the teapot was introduced but not the cup/mug, the individual handled, ceramic, drinking vessel, its origins are less clear, and its introduction does not seem to be a watershed like the teapot. What is an intriguing thought is that there was a time when the mug/cup didn’t exist. The mug/cup as an everyday object has been made, bought, used and discarded or in some cases collected and curated now for nearly six hundred years- how has this happened? Indeed, the Medieval Pottery Research Group(1998) says that “vessels which were designed specifically for drinking are rare before the later medieval period”. Much of the evidence for its introduction is archaeological as well as collections such as that at the V+A. Is there any other object that this has happened to? The book, specifically the English bible, undoubtedly; the clay pipe, however, became obsolete.

These vessels emerged as part of a transitional phase which has been defined by archaeologists using transitional groups of pottery found in archaeological contexts representing the change from medieval to the early modern period. Some vessels became obsolete, some like the mug and plate have continued. According To Michael Shanks it is stability which needs to be explained and that change is the norm. One of my questions is why has the mug/cup continued in existence?

I also make thrown bowls, teapots, mugs, platters. I have made bowls, teapots, am making an installation of mugs having a conversation about their origins. I work in porcelain and all my work is totally functional and food safe. I also slipcast the mugs, and throw other vessels. Thus techniques are mixed here.

I am researching the history of western table ware which is a history of the modern world, also about relationships between social practices and material culture; Social change manifested in material culture; I am attempting to explore the interfaces of two disciplines- art and archaeology with the integration of research into artistic practice.


Monday, 5 May 2008


Havn't posted recently as my work is changing, trying to find a vocabulary, new direction, working hard in my workshop. Recent ideas are like this, but this far from finished

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Sunday, 17 February 2008


In making things, we make the world, we also remake ourselves. Artefacts are active and shape the world. Our world is unthinkable without objects. What would we be without objects? To make or craft is to remake the world, give it meaning whether the object is functional or not. The maker gives his/her own personal shape to the world by making objects.

see a similar piece on the Victoria and Albert Museum website

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Another scrumble patchwork hat

These hats have alife of their own thereis no planning inthe making , no set pattern they are totally random and serendipitous. I put my hand intoo the stash close my eyes and pull out the next ball of wool.

Les jardins be bagatelle, Salon de The , Plymouth Hat

I have crocheted in cut up recycled silk silk ties, used wool that I ahave collected over the years and used a pattern that is a natural evolution of trying to define a formal structure in hats. I leave the tails of wool as signs and remains of making, these have evolved into tassels, in later hats, crocheted into the fabric.

Friday, 8 February 2008

bead and wire bracelet

All my work is for sale on

my etsy shop can be found

Sunday, 3 February 2008

I tried to abstract the photos and painr the abstract landscape images using high fired ceramic glazes
Grey Blue
The estuary (Tamar)still looking for colour.

I am amzed , rather in retrospect just how it is possible to photgraph different coloured lights at this time of day

Ernesettle o, early morning, looking for pink light.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Sunday, 20 January 2008

As Shanks says(online, 12-01-08)"The decay of an artifact is a token of the human condition. The fragment, the mutilated and incomplete thing from the past, brings a sense of life struggling with time: death and decay await us all, people and objects alike. In common we have our materiality"


It is the work of artists such as these which has provoked the line of reasoning set out below. I also worked as a field archaeologist for six years in 70’s +80’s. Thus the interdisciplinary approach to the study of ceramics is essential to me.
Colin Renfrew says

This proposal contains an introduction, the theoretical/conceptual background to the project, aims and intentions, proposed research design and method, which will present research questions for the origins and genesis of the mug/cup - the individual, handled, ceramic drinking vessel. Its history is often associated with the teapot, and although the teapot is often mentioned this is usually used to illuminate a point about the mug/cup when no other reference exists. The focus will always be the cup/mug. (SAY SOMETHING ABOUT LONGEVITY AND CONTINUITY).
Certain key issues in archaeology arise out of this study - the relationship between social practices and material culture; Social changes manifested in material culture; the relationship between the past and the present; the relationship between people and objects
The mug/cup as an everyday object has been made, bought, used and discarded or in some cases collected and curated now for nearly six hundred years- how has this happened? Is there any other object that this has happened to? The book, specifically the English bible, undoubtedly;;, the clay pipe, however, became obsolete. These sorts of questions will need further exploration.

As Michael Shanks(email, 18-01-08) has said, this will be “a genealogy of an everyday item - a pragmatogony".

There is a well documented transition from the medieval to the post medieval period. Indeed Barker,(Accessed on line 30-12-07) attests to a transitional phase defined by transitional groups of pottery. The Post Medieval period, 1450-1700, according to Cumberpatch,(2003), refers more or less to a period which follows the medieval and is largely defined by the material culture of this context. From these contexts come large amounts of ceramic material which are distinctive from the medieval ceramics. They consist of assemblages which have a specific character, are described as transitional groups containing cups platter, jugs, pancheons, dripping pans, as seen in FIG 1. The medieval forms had largely been replaced by vessels with specific functions some of which are still readily recognisable in the contemporary period.

The Early industrial Revolution is the same period but refers to social, technological and economic change of the 15th and 16th century in Great Britain.

Furthermore, the earliest historical reference to an earthenware platter is in 1666, and is of Samuel Pepys dining (Coleman-Smith, 1988, pg 174) “it is unusual to find pottery examples before the post medieval period”.
The teapot arrived into the post-medieval period, 1600-1720 a period which can be seen as the start of the consumer age with ”a wider variety of mass produced forms in varying colours.


Coleman-Smith(1988), and Cumberpatch(2003) provide evidence for the theoretical background. Additionally, Gaimster and Stamper(1997) document the transition period as context to these changes. Coleman-Smith(1988,p 1) says that, at Donyatt in Somerset,
“the end of the medieval tradition as represented by the 16th century phase production was apparently abrupt, with a complete changeover to new forms, different techniques of production and a new emphasis on decoration”.

Indeed, the 17th century transitional phase of production represented an increase in the variety of forms. This tendency/pattern of increasing variety continued well into the 19th century. Another aspect of this variety is that vessels became more and more specialized - this vessel specificity shows that the preparation and serving of food becomes separated, dining, display and entertainment become the new practices.
could be another aspect of this subject that might benefit from further research. 9(Rewrite this) Lack of resources has prevented further research into this aspect.

Cumberpatch, (2003) has defined the scope of the problem

“in highlighting the inadequacies of the existing explanations and to indicate a possible way forward which involves considering the phenomenological change in ceramics as a significant aspect of wider social change. Above all it is clear that a broader approach to ceramics, which situates them within the realm of material culture generally and connects this with larger social structures, is required if the reasons for the changes are to be interpreted and adequately explained“.

As an undergraduate, the interdisciplinary nature of material cultural studies when writing an essay on the evolution of the teapot became significant set within in a socio-economic historical framework, relating design history to social change/cultural evolution. It emerged almost by accident by juxtaposing statements from two different disciplines about the same subject, and surprising things happened about the type of knowledge that could emerge. At a later date , having read Knappett (2005, p2), in his recent book, Thinking Through Material Culture), the idea became more realistic, as he says “…it gradually becomes apparent, in a rather surprising fashion, how readily some areas lend themselves to interbreeding”. Consequently, for my dissertation, which was entitled the Changing Value and Status of Handmade Pottery began to use evidence from archaeology, design history, consumer studies, social theory, social and economic history to map socio-cultural change through the study of the evolution of artifacts. It is therefore important, for this current project, to use evidence from several disciplines - the full history of ceramics has to be an interdisciplinary exercise to develop a more rounded and integrated overview of the development of tableware. Karl Knappett(2005), says that material Cultural Theory, within archaeology is in its infancy, and it has not yet developed sophisticated theoretical models for understanding the role of artifacts in human societies. One of the theoretical problems is that it is almost impossible to create a model when much information about a person’s relationship with an object is missing. This is the problem of prehistory. On the other hand, the study of a contemporary object which is also found within the archaeological record may open up the possibility of creating a model for understanding the significance of our relationship with objects. This is also a key issue in archaeology. This would introduce anthropology into the study, which would provide the tools for studying our social relationships with our material culture. This would not be part of the focus of the current project I am proposing, but it is another area where further research would be possible.

Objects have meaning over and beyond their functional and formal elements. The mug or cup, the individual handled ceramic drinking vessel, is probably one of the most ubiquitous objects in western societies. It is known as an everyday object. But this object has a beginning, there was a time when it didn’t exist. The context of its introduction is where much of its meaning may be revealed. It was introduced into the British Isles circa 1450, but seemingly did not make an appearance in the Southwest until circa 1550. Initially, it was probably quite a rare object but now its distribution can be seen everywhere. Its introduction is most likely associated with the introduction of hot drinks.
The potters in the Southwest, Bristol etc seemed to be making handled cups before imports from the East. The teapot was imported in the 1650’s.

The handled cup became part of the teaset at a later date; the saucer was first introduced circa 1710 onwards to accompany the increasing use of small cups, as Hilary Young at the Victoria and Albert Museum says

“Teabowls and saucers were imported from China from the third quarter of the 17th-century, and were put together as paired sets by India Co and china dealer's warehousemen. Handled cups for coffee and chocolate were made from around 1690, and were equipped with saucers by the 1710s. Handled teacups with matching saucers were a slightly later development”.

Email 09-03-2007.
It is the indigenous development of the handled drinking vessel that will concern this paper.

Other studies that are used in historical archaeology are probate inventories of household, where artefacts are analysed within their domestic contexts. These would be consulted, where there are references to cups and mugs.

My work as potter gives me some insight in that I can look at a piece of ceramic and begin to tell an audience about the person who made the sherd of pottery, their level of skill, and I could in some cases with certain assemblages of pottery begin to draw conclusions about the social organization surrounding the making of the pottery, MAYBE THE MARKET IT HAS BEEN MADE FOR DEPENDING ON THE CONTEXT OF THE POTTERY. I was able to gain a bit more insight into the production of the sherds, see below for Ethics of Improvement. This is an interdisciplinary exercise.

Polzeath cast silver pebble pendant

copper wire bead necklace

another hat

this one has cut up silk tie in it that I biught form a charity shop