Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research
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The Sensorial Dimensions of Clay:
A dialogue between the science and practice of making in clay

Author/Co Author:
Dr Sandy Budden and David Huson
Name of conference: The Poetics and Physics of Clay: Diverse Approaches to Materiality
date: 14 March 2012
venue: Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts, University of Manchester
URL Links:www.arts.manchester.ac.uk/the-poetics-and-physics-of-clay/

The Poetics and Physics of Clay: Diverse Approaches to Materiality

Wednesday 14th March 2-5pm, University Place 5.205

Clay is a material that has been used by mankind for almost 20,000 years to make objects ranging from small figurative or utilitarian pots, figurines, bricks, pipes and loomweights to large architectural structures such as the Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, or the Wall of China. The pervasiveness of its uses even in modern day becomes clear when one considers that between half and two thirds of the world’s population still lives or works in buildings made with clay.

Thanks to the Material Sciences we have a solid understanding of the properties of clay and its use in construction and manufacturing contexts is ever increasing. Likewise, its malleability and ability to interact with other materials in interesting ways has made clay one of the primary media for artists to work with. While science and art impact each other in a myriad of ways, these linkages are often unspoken and unacknowledged. It is therefore the purpose of this workshop to vocalize how different scientific techniques interface with artistic dimensions and how, in turn, this interaction shapes the objects’ meaning in society.


  • Dr Sandy Budden, University of Southampton (potter, ceramic specialist and artist) and Dave Huson, University of the West of England (ceramic engineer) “The Sensorial Dimensions of Clay: a dialogue between the science and practice of making in clay
  • Dr Ina Berg, University of Manchester (ceramic specialist) “Using X-radiography to understand the technical and artistic dimensions of ceramic objects”
  • Dr Michael Eden, MMU (artist and 3D Design lecturers) “The use of non-fired ceramics materials and 3D printing of ceramic materials”
  • Prof Robert Freer, University of Manchester (Professor in Material Sciences) “Using scientific methods to understand ceramics at different length scales (artistic to atomic)”
  • Ms Ruth Shrigley, Manchester Art Gallery (Principal Manager: Collections Access) “Stars of the show or supporting cast? Different approaches to the presentation of ceramics in the art museum”

Workshop details:

Half-day workshop with formal 20-30 minute presentations by the invited speakers, followed by discussion. Exhibition of art work related to the workshop theme.

To confirm attendance, email ina.berg@manchester.ac.uk