The Ceramic Blague as Cultural Critique

Lee, Geoffrey Stuart (2021) The Ceramic Blague as Cultural Critique. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

This practice-based research project is an examination of the ceramic object as a critical vehicle. I will argue that: The ceramic object offers a range of effective critical alternatives to traditional forms of satire. I shall substantiate this judgement with the use of six case studies (CS) of significant ceramicists, notably Robert Arneson and Richard Slee, in order to establish contemporary practices, later referencing their work in contextualising my own practice which engages with six lines of enquiry (LoE). I shall draw upon a range of theorists from Rene Descartes on affect to Michel de Certeau on the everyday. I will conclude with the reflections and insights gained into materiality, affect and audience and suggest how these might clarify our understanding and contribute to the current literature.

The impetus for this research originated outside academia in a review of my studio practice. It is the natural development of previous postgraduate enquiries, each of which concluded with outstanding questions. These experiences strongly suggested that clay has the capacity to produce stimulating and, possibly, alternative readings when used within a critical framework.

My view is that ceramics is a dysfunctional field of practice, but one that has enormous potential as a critical tool if it adopts what I have termed the blague. This hypothesis stems from previous preliminary research which suggested that adopting a combination of artists’ case studies and studio practice lines of enquiry would produce significant primary research material. The previous studio practice being underpinned by humour suggested satire as the major research focus. I have adopted the term blague as an aggressive, critical form of mockery and ridicule which is tested across the LoEs. It should be noted that ceramic satire is not a recent phenomenon. Daumier’s terracotta portrait busts of members of the French National Assembly are unsurpassed but exist outside the scope of this contemporary enquiry.

The scope of this enquiry does not cover ceramics’ expanded field, now largely focused on installation and performance. These areas have acquired critical priority and my research concern has been to address a gap recognised in a critical context. It is specific. In order to frame a distinctive and coherent research model, my concern has been to focus on the alienations driving artists to use the mockery and ridicule of the blague. The focus here is on figures who may not traditionally have been central to the story of artistic development. These marginal figures are used to illuminate historical and material changes within individual case studies and related lines of enquiry.

Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Fine Arts)
ID Code:45388
Deposited On:28 Jun 2021 11:20

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