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Curating Ceramics: Museums, Ceramics Collections and Community Agency

This event, the first of two, heralds the Shipley Art Gallery's acquisition of the John Christian studio ceramics collection in 2020.

About this Event

Curating Ceramics: Innovative Display and Audience Participation Methods

In 2020 the Shipley Art Gallery acquired the John Christian studio ceramics collection. Originally due to open as a new permanent collection this year, these plans have been put on hold due to COVID. However, to celebrate this exciting collection at one of the UK’s leading arts and crafts museums, you are invited join us for this, and a second event on the 2nd February 2021, exploring ceramic collections and community, with leading international artists and curators.

This event is a partnership between Newcastle University, the Shipley Art Gallery and the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) Subject Specialist Network at York Art Gallery, and supported by Arts Council England.



26 January 2021 - 16:00-18:30

4– 5pm: Introduction to the Ceramics Collection at Shipley Art Gallery

The Shipley is home to the extensive Henry Rothschild ceramics collection and hosts the annual Rothschild Ceramics Lecture; the bi-annual Rothschild Bursary; and the Rothschild Community Programme. The gallery has also recently acquired the John Christian studio ceramics collection. Led by Julie Milne, Chief Curator of Art Galleries, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Ben Jones Project Coordinator (Shipley Arts Participation), this talk will explore how the Shipley currently engages with its community through its ceramics collection; and question what future creative opportunities for engagement would look like. There will also be a sneak online preview of some of the Gallery’s new and established collections, alongside an opportunity to browse an online exhibition of new ceramic work by Newcastle University Fine Art students responding to selected pieces from the John Christian collection.

5 – 6pm: Lecture, 'Museums, Ceramics Collections and Community Agency', Dr. Rachel Gotlieb

Dr. Rachel Gotlieb will discuss her curatorial practice interpreting ceramics in the context of contemporary gender issues, social ideologies, aesthetics and disrupting the canon. Drawing from her curatorial experience at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art in Toronto, she will share the challenges of working in a medium-specific institution and trying to make it relevant and progressive in the highly competitive art world.

Specifically, she will focus on three artist responses that she curated: Joanne Tod: Invited Invasion, An Te Liu: Mono No Ma, and Clare Twomey: Piece by Piece. Each installation raised the profile of the artist and the museum and, most importantly, animated its ceramics collection to engage the public but in very different ways. She will also discuss Transformation by Fire: Women Overcoming Violence Through Clay, a community-based project that honoured the women of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic who experienced violence and participated in clay art therapy sessions at the Gardiner as a process for healing. The exhibition celebrated the 10th anniversary between the two institutions and was designed to increase public awareness about violence against women in a sensitive, informed, and compelling way.

Who is the speaker?

Rachel Gotlieb holds a PhD in Art History from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and an MA in Design History from the RCA/V&A in London. She serves on the faculty of Sheridan College Bachelor of Craft and Design where she teaches design history. Gotlieb is also Adjunct Curator at the Gardiner Museum. Dr. Gotlieb was previously the Gardiner’s Chief Curator and Interim Executive Director. In 2017 she was appointed a Theodore Randall International Chair in Art and Design at Alfred University in upstate New York, and a Research Fellow at the Winterthur Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware. Dr. Gotlieb has curated over twenty exhibitions and published extensively on the subject of ceramics, craft and design. Her work has been supported by the Canada Council and the Museum of Heritage and has received awards from the Canadian Museums Association, Ontario Association of Art Galleries and the Ontario Craft Council. Another significant area of her research is interpreting the agency of British ceramics in the nineteenth century, some which has been published in the Journal of Design History (2019).


Tickets for the symposia are free. In respect of the time, effort and public funding that have gone in to developing the programme, you are expected to attend if you book a ticket. If for any reason you are unable to attend we ask that you cancel your ticket, so you place can be taken up by someone else. Thank you.

Book here