European Ceramic Context 2014

Judith Schwartz


Venue: Royal Danish Academy School of Design Bornholm

Date: Sep. 14th. 2014 

Time: 10.00 - 16.30 

Tickets: Regular €80 / €60 students. Tickets are sold through


Materiality - The values of matter and making

This conference will focus on materiality, thinking through materials, craftsmanship and why making is important to being human.

Clay is a common material. It has endless versatility and usability, from functional ware to a matter that has the ability to transform artistic ideas with its material tactility. It is sensual, plastic and is responsive to the primal instinct of making things by hand. Clay allows the artist to create form in spontaneous and direct ways that no other material does. 

  • Why is crafts and making important to being human?

  • How do we as humans engage with materials?

  • Do we experience materials and objects physically?

  • Why are the tactile and haptic qualities of materials important to humans?

  • What role does the use of clay / ceramics play in contemporary society?



Carsten Friberg (DK) - Keynote Speaker
Mind the Matter. Reflections on Thinking through Materiality. 
The lecture will reflect on how we form things around us and in return are formed by them. When we make tools to serve specific uses we also create the idea of using them and the situation in which to use them. To use, for example, a fork for eating instead of the hand may seem like a practical instrument for a specific purpose, but it is also to form our relation to eating and to the food. The making of things thus becomes a process of understanding our relation to the world, an understanding made concrete through forming our world. What we think, what we have in our mind, will be found in the matter we form and which form our lives.


Namita Gupta Wiggers, US
Namita Gupta Wiggers is a curator, writer, educator, and museum consultant based in Portland, OR. As the former Director and Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR (2004-14), she directed programming which connected artist, writers and the community through exhibitions that explore craft as a subject and a verb. Her curatorial work and writing combines her experience and training as an art historian, a museum educator, ethnographer and design researcher, teacher, writer, and studio art jeweler.Wiggers considers how craft and design function as simultaneously distinct and intersecting practices, and how the exhibition operates as a site and space for cultural inquiry. She is the co-founder of Critical Craft Forum, and serves on boards of the American Craft Council, and access.ceramics.


Joakim Borda-Pedreira, NO
Materiality Matters
Joakim is a Swedish art historian and art critic living in Norway. He recently co-edited the the book Materiality Matters for Norwegian Crafts. 
For the crafts, the concepts of materiality and tactility are absolutely central. In Norway, these concepts have recently been the subject of greater discussion, and it seems now that the field of fine art has re-discovered them. Materiality has apparently also been playing a larger role in the discussion on artistic quality in contemporary art. But if we claim that materiality is a quality-related concept in both craft and fine art, are we talking about the same type of materiality? Is it the same quality we are referring to in the two different traditions: the craftsperson’s loyalty and confidence in his or her materials, and the fine artist’s use and borrowing of the media of others?

Alexandra Engelfriet, NL
Alexandra has worked for more than twelve years with materials from the earth that can be kneaded and shaped including silt, clay, sand, loam, earth and snow.
Alexandra works on a large scale, creating monumental environment-based works. She also produces smaller wood fired works for exhibition that typically reflect the flows, folds and ripples of the raw earthen materials that she manipulates for her larger works.

Mårten Medbo, SE
Clay based language / communication
Mårten Medbo is a doctoral student at HDK, University of Gothenburg. "My interest is in theory and practise. I am the first to admit that it's very problematic to look at theory and practise as two different entoties. But sometimes it is necessary to generalize to be able to see the bigger picture. What's in focus here is the dynamics between craft, understood as craft-practises, traditions and skill, and theory understood as contemporary craft theory".

Helen Marton, UK
Ceramic Resonance and Site Specificity
Senior Lecturer Ceramics - Contemporary Crafts BA (Hons) Falmouth University. Throughout history and from one culture to another, the use and ownership of specific materials made into objects has indicated power, status, wealth, and gender and is the foundation of economy. Each material resonates, speaks, and holds meaning and significance. My practice - 
© -based research hignlights ceramic material resonance in the productionof art and craft, referring to site, history and culture.