Welcome to Issue 16 of Interpreting Ceramics. In his article entitled ‘Dora Billington: From Arts and Crafts to Studio Pottery’, Marshall Coleman illuminates the early career of one of the most important figures in twentieth century studio pottery in Britain. Although the production of her own ceramics was not extensive, Billington influenced generations of potters through her inspirational teaching. Her career as Head of Department at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London in the 1950s is well documented but details of her work in earlier decades have until now been harder to find. The author’s research enables us to understand more fully the development of Billington’s ideas and teaching methods. In contrast to the meticulous historical approach of Marshall Colman, Helen Doherty offers a more personal but no less intriguing account of a ceramics studio in South Africa which has proved to be as controversial as it has been successful. As a white woman of South African origin, the author positions herself within the story. She acknowledges difficult cultural and political issues as she gives a critical appreciation of the Ardmore Ceramics Studio and the people who have worked there, including the founder Fée Halsted and the first artist to work with her, Bonnie Ntshalintshali. In addition to these articles, this issue of Interpreting Ceramics is particularly rich in reviews, with a broad range of book and exhibition reviews as well as reports of the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale and the SITE: Situating Ceramics colloquium at the University of Sunderland, UK.
Interpreting Ceramics is an initiative of a group of academic staff in the UK who have joined together under the title of Interpreting Ceramics: Research Collaboration (ICRC). Our collaboration has come about through shared research interests in recording, interrogating, interpreting and communicating the practice and history of ceramics.
The members of ICRC are committed to exploring ways in which collaborative effort, on both a national and international level, can lead to broader and more interdisciplinary research into all those categories of human activity which are indicated by the term 'ceramics'. ICRC has an interest in any practice or mode of inquiry which brings a social and cultural awareness to bear on the manufacture and consumption of objects made from ceramic materials. The fields covered would therefore include studio, industrial, architectural, traditional, sculptural and figurative ceramics as well as the relevant branches of anthropology, archaeology, material culture studies, museum studies, archiving etc.
The journal Interpreting Ceramics is the first outcome of the collaborative work of ICRC. It is the first refereed, electronic journal for ceramics and in publishing on the Internet the journal allows contributors to exploit the possibilities of new digital media as well as offering more traditional text based approaches. The journal is freely accessible, without charge. We aim to establish and maintain the highest scholarly standards for the content of the articles published. Four institutions have joint proprietorship of the journal and they are the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, the University of the West of England, Bristol and Bath Spa University College.
Editorial responsibility for Interpreting Ceramics lies with the ICRC committee, which currently consists of the members of the editorial team who are listed above. The editorial advisory board consists of thirty individuals, drawn from different disciplines, who together provide a wide range of expertise on ceramics in all its guises. A list of members of the board is provided on the web site.