Creative Ceramics


By URBACT, on August 26th, 2010

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cermaicsProbably since the very beginnings of ceramic production there has been a duality of purpose, to make objects designed for daily (even construction or industrial) utility but also objects with a decorative or ornamental quality. This has, together with use of local materials and colour preferences, shaped the development of different decorative national or local styles, which are evident in the traditions of the URBACT UNIC project partners. Everyone has an image of what Limoges or Delftware means. Or we can imagine the intricate often Moorish or Asian influenced patterns reflecting the historic cultural exchanges which define the Portuguese experience. The tableware and “azulejo’s” are instantly recognisable even if, in the interim, industrial production has responded to contemporary needs and desires in terms of functionality.

Today the ceramic industry in Aveiro (URBACT UNIC partner) but also in the area around Obidos (URBACT Creative Clusters partner) in the neighbouring Caldas da Rainha, bear testimony to this tradition. However in an effort to explore and capture new markets, creative designers are experimenting with innovative extreme temperature kiln techniques, successive heating and (shock) cooling, alternative raw materials (including recycled production waste), grains and compound compositions, to produce ceramics often with utility value, but also  primarily as artworks or even purely sculptural pieces. So while the value and appreciation of the traditional local style and production of objects, even for daily use, remains a keystone of production – new objects are attracting new clients to the shop windows in historic cities like Obidos.

The departure from local source styles but using the technical skills and knowledge developed in these areas over centuries, is giving the sector a new and innovative dimension to stimulate small local industries and exploit sales potential for delicate articles, where transportation is an added marketing consideration. The relationship between artistic creation and the heritage city, providing a high quality exposition space while at the same time delivering a specific clientele, represents an important asset in heritage linked urban economies. It brings the issues concerning a number of URBACT projects into sharp focus. The “Guardian”  journalist Andy Beckett suggests that “property firms have learned the big lesson of gentrification: where artists go, estate agents follow”*. Perhaps urban heritage and other sectors of the economy could be equally added to this equation.

*(“In the gaps developers left, another world is being built” – The Guardian newspaper 21/08/2010)     

Philip Stein
Thematic Pole Manager

One Response to “Creative Ceramics”

  1. Johnathan Santiago says:

    Another great post, thanks for the write up! Have a great day and cant wait to see future posts

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