For Love or Money: Motivation of women ceramic artists in Wales

Moira Vincentelli and Liz McDermott of Aberystwyth University are collaborating with Jill Venus of the University of Wales, Lampeter on this interdisciplinary project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2004-8). It brings together the research fields of Art, Personal and Professional Development, and Women’s Entrepreneurship and explores the motivations and experience of women ceramic artists and craft potters in Wales.

Micki Schloessingk

Micki Schloessingk

I think Wales is incredibly vibrant … I have a real affinity with it. I think it’s a very supportive, wonderful country to be living in as an artist. I really do, far more than England. WL 2005

Over the last three decades Wales has enjoyed a remarkably dynamic ceramic scene. Inspiring landscape, inexpensive property with living and workspace, thriving potters’ associations, some very supportive galleries and a number of excellent degree courses including major postgraduate developments in Cardiff have all contributed. Nevertheless the question implied in the title For Love or Money can be quickly answered. It is never easy to make a living as a clay artist. You have to love it and most people practice some form of mixed economy including self-sufficiency, teaching or other unrelated activity.

For Love or Money is an AHRC funded project (2004-8) drawing on the work of Moira Vincentelli and the Ceramic Archive, Aberystwyth in collaboration with Dr Jill Venus, University of Wales, Lampeter. The primary researcher was Dr Liz McDermott who undertook most of the interviewing although interviews conducted by Anna Hale in the 1990s have also been an important resource.

Kate Derbyshire

Kate Derbyshire

This collaborative research brings together the fields of Art, Personal and Professional Development, and Women’s Entrepreneurship and explores the motivations and experience of women ceramic artists and craft potters in Wales. Although difficult to assess precisely, women increasingly predominate in the field of ceramics in Wales a fact supported by the gender balance of students graduating in recent years.

The main themes, explored in the research are:

  • how the process of or the rewards associated with business activity affect motivation
  • the effect of gender on women’s experience of working with clay
  • the dominance of in-migrants in the ceramic community and their experience of living and working in Wales
  • issues of Welsh identity and the subjective perception of Wales
  • the relationship between making with clay and other areas of women’s lives
  • the definition of success for women working with clay

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