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  • Curator of ceramics Helen Walsh at York Art Gallery. Photo: Kippa Matthews.

Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery re-opens on 1 August following its £8 million development

York Art Gallery re-opens with the launch of its new Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA). CoCA will be home to the gallery’s collection of 5,000 examples of British studio ceramics with 2,000 objects on show at any one time. Expect to see work from the start of the studio ceramics movement to the present day by such ceramists as Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Felicity Aylieff and Kate Malone.

Manifest: 10,000 hours, Clare Twomey, 2015. Photo: Peter Heaton

To mark its launch, CoCA has commissioned a centrepiece installation from artist, and Crafts Council Trustee, Clare Twomey. Manifest: 10,000 hours comprises ten thousand slip-cast ceramic bowls – made in workshops by members of the public – piled high in towering columns. Twomey’s Manifest refers to not only to the adage that it takes 10,000 hours to become skilled but also to the process of collecting and accumulating. CoCA Curator Helen Walsh says: "Her work acknowledges the way collections can often become obsessions which grow so much the consume all the free space available to them. This was certainly the case for W. A. Ismay, whose collection will be shown in CoCA. his fantastic collection of 3,600 works were once kept in his tiny terraced house in Wakefield, filling every room, with objects often stacked high covering all surfaces, including the floor."

It's not all ceramics-related at York Art Gallery though. On the ground floor, in the Madsen Gallery visitors will find a commission by Susie MacMurray. Responding to the Italian Renaissance alterpieces in the collection, MacMurray has made Halo, an eight-metre wallpiece of protruding gold wire strands. Printmaker, illustrator and local artist Mark Hearld has curated an exhibition of miscellaneous treasures from the collection. The Lumber Room, takes its inspiration from the Saki short story of the same name and Hearld's selected exhibits span from 18th century portraiture to pub signage and taxidermy, all brought together with his own work. "Since I heard Saki's story I have always been intrigued by the idea of a locked room that contained treasures so wonderful they are beyond what your mind can imagine," he explains, "In this exhibition I wanted to create the sense of excitement and wonder that you get when you discover the key to the room and see the 'forbidden' objects for the first time."

For more on Clare Twomey’s Manifest: 10,000 hours see the July/Aug issue of Crafts magazine. The Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery opens 1 August.


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