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Central Saint Martins Degree Show 2017

By Lena Peters, BA Ceramics graduate

The CSM BA (Hons) Ceramic Design degree show spans five medium rooms of the industrial university building. Spread across these rooms are the 21 graduating students of the class of 2017.

This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the course, and its history of pushing the boundaries of ceramic design, thinking and the material are clearly evidenced in this show’s diverse body of work.

The first room contains the work of Istvan Szabo, Netty Erw South Moffat and my own work. Szabo’s work focuses on the juxtaposition of man and nature, creating forms which are equal parts industrial and natural in large scale sculptural pieces. Szabo’s work pushes the ceramic material to its limits, experimenting with firing, glazing and the addition of other materials to the clay body.

Beside these pieces, the work of Netty Erw South Moffat draws our attention to the often unnoticed and unintentional marks that we leave behind. She focuses on marks discovered in London’s urban surroundings and magnifies them, creating a series of geometric wall based pieces which serve to highlight the marks she has found.

The pieces are decorated using a variety of techniques – different textures, glazes and clay bodies combine with enamel transfers and underglazes to create a rich library of surfaces. The final step of this process is taking these objects back into the surroundings which inspired them and photographing them in the environment they spring from.

My own work is the final work in this room; my project Secrets of the Hidden North is a collection of ceramics which pose as found objects, and reveal to us the myths, gods and beliefs of a mysterious and previously undiscovered tribe who lived during the Roman occupation of the British Isles through a museum exhibit.

Images l-r: Istvan Szabo, Netty Erw South Moffat, Lena Peters, Kirsty-Marie Williams, Charik Saragouda.

Room two holds a strikingly different selection of work. Kirsty-marie Williams’ work is an installation titled Things You Need To Know consisting of a rug, a table, a chair, a wall mounted mirror and a porcelain tea set. The table settings are in disarray, with a tablecloth half pulled from the table and the items toppled.

The teapot – or should I say teapots – is two large cast teapots, leaning against each other and tied with rope. The work explores the uncomfortable reality of victim blaming in sexual assault cases, inviting the viewer to insert themselves into the scene by taking a seat in the chair and observing themselves in the mirror.

The next collection, by Charik Saragouda, is an array of brightly coloured vessels inspired by asymmetric urban architecture, which are both functional and decorative. The forms are designed on the lathe in plaster and then slip cast, creating a table landscape that echoes the skyline of cityscapes.

Hanging in the corner, Angela Wong’s installation Memories uses delicate spot lit porcelain forms, almost like folded paper, with some painted in bright patterns. Valerie Totubalina has created a series of exquisitely crafted plates, which function not just as tableware but as art object, transforming by turns into a wall mounted smoke alarm and a clock.

Her work highlights the beauty and craftsmanship that is innate in even the most domestic of ceramic products. Finally, the chess set made by Kequing Chen is a selection of beautifully crafted cast, geometric forms in stark black and white inspired by Victorian gardens.

In the third room, Julia Smith’s work focuses on the myriad ways that clay can express the different aspects of human feeling and personality. By using different clay bodies of different colours and adding other materials such as crystals and glass she combines these elements into vessels which express our humanity.

Simran Garg’s colourful planters hang beside Zhen Lu’s installation, consisting of beautiful and intricate slip paintings on porcelain tiles in the shape of a bridge, telling the story of the destruction of these historical relics through images which celebrate China’s cultural heritage. The final items in the room are Karl Favell’s Synthesis collection.

Images l-r: Valerie Totubalina, Julia Smith, Elena Gomez de Valcarcel, Lily Savill, Eva Tiannan Guo, Saskia Maeve Tunbridge Davies.

As you enter the fourth room, you see Shansan Ye’s installation What does country mean to me? which deals with issues of national identity in Ye’s native China. Past this, you see the brightly coloured porcelain characters of Elena Gomez de Valcarcel’s Familia project, which uses a collection of named animal ‘toys’ made from slip cast porcelain to facilitate the development of emotional intelligence in children, as well as a partner range of animal night lights which help parents and children to create a bedtime routine.

Next to this, Lily Savill’s pieces, which are sponsored by Wedgewood, explore ideas in trends and surface pattern through her collection Botanical Heritage, featuring beautiful and colourful natural patterns with subtle details. To complete this room, a lovely tableware set by Eva Tiannan Guo which aims to update the serving ware for traditional Chinese cuisine.

The final room holds Saskia Maeve Tunbridge-Davies’s collection Fika, which explores coffee culture in a beautifully made selection of coffee cups and a tasting vessel, glazed in gentle shades of grey and white. Beside it are Elizabeth Natul Nenge’s bright and colourful stacking terracotta flower pots, which can be put together in different shapes and combinations to create a wall of green in any space.

In the opposite corner, Merve Kasrat has created ceramic ceiling roses, which deal with the stigmas surrounding mental illness in contemporary society, and Senkei Mo’s cut out ceramic slabs layered over papercut images. The final item in this room are from Loki Yu Zhang, and are a new take on the traditional Dai ceramics of his native China.

The sheer range of work on show demonstrates the diversity and freedom of the Central Saint Martins approach, giving us a degree show full of projects which push the material into new and interesting forms and areas.

For contact details, websites and more information about any of the exhibiting artists, visit