Ashley Thorpe is a collector of ceramics, a writer, performer and an academic. He has seriously collected contemporary British studio ceramics for almost twenty years and has extensive knowledge of the field. His first book Contemporary British Ceramics: Beneath the Surfacewas published by The Crowood Press in 2021. Its publication was marked by an exhibition of the same name, which was held at Eton College.
In 2019, the prestigious international journal Ceramics: Art + Perceptionawarded him theirinaugural writing prize for an essay on the work of Tessa Eastman. In 2022, he was invited to become a Trustee for the Maak Foundation, an organisation established to support and promote British studio ceramics. He currently teaches Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he gained his PhD.
This is a provocative book prompting philosophical and psychological reflection on the potential of clay to shape and be shaped, to give shape to thought, experience and emotion. I would strongly recommend this as a book to be read, re-read, discussed and debated.
This book takes on the debate around what makes ceramics an art form and how it has developed. The ‘vessel’, it seems, is a contentious word in ceramics. The book has noted, debates surrounding the validity of the term reveal ‘tensions about the relative value of the pot, the vessel and the object, and the status between the useful and the useless in the art world. The debate as to whether ceramics should be regarded as ‘art’ or ‘craft’ . A very thoughtful read.