The Ceramics Research Centre (CRC-UK) is led by Professor Clare Twomey and its current members are Research Associate Phoebe Cummings, Senior Lecturer Tessa Peters, Emerita Professor Christie Brown, and Emeritus Professor Nigel Wood. 

The CRC-UK is a leader in debates surrounding international contemporary ceramic practice. Its work has been central to the re-evaluation of the position of ceramics in contemporary art and museum culture. The members’ practice-based and theoretical investigations of ceramic installation and the associated dialogues around museum intervention, curatorial practice and audience engagement have had an impact on gallery and museum policy. In generating new ways of thinking and creating new forms of artistic expression their work has had an influence beyond the academy and increased public engagement with contemporary ceramics. The field of research has additionally been developed through the work of the Centre’s doctoral students and recent PhD successes. 

The CRC-UK developed from the interface between teaching and research based on the historic Harrow Ceramics course which ran from 1963 until 2012. During the first decade of the 21st century, research staff Edmund de Waal and Christie Brown began to explore a strategy to address new agendas in the field, joined in 2004 by Clare Twomey. In 2022, the Centre was awarded the highest level of recognition for its impact by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) specifically for transforming the curatorial strategies of major art institutions to the benefit of visitors and emerging ceramics artists; diversifying the audiences for craft-based arts, through raising the mainstream media profile of such arts and through direct engagement with underserved communities; and changing Tate Modern’s approach to public participation, to the benefit of the institution and its associates. 


photograph of a sculpture made of broken plates and other ceramic items
Clare Twomey, Monument, Musee D’Art Moderne De Paris -The Flames: The Age of Ceramics. From 15 October 2021 to 06 February 2022. Photo: Pierre Antoine

Clare Twomey | CLAY holding/transforming/performing, National Sculpture Factory, Cork, Eire, August 2023

Clare Twomey’s curation of CLAY holding/transforming/performing at the National Sculpture Factory, Cork, Eire (August 2023) created opportunities to witness the live practice of artists, alongside lectures and artists in conversation. Addressing clay as a site of production, negotiation and complexity, her curatorial aim was to develop ways to challenge fixed modes of clay practice by reimagining production through the demands of this ancient and enduring material. 

Monument, Musee D’Art Moderne De Paris, France, Oct 2021 – 6 Feb 2022

Clare Twomey was commissioned by the Musee D’Art Moderne De Paris to make the entrance work, Monument, for the exhibition The Flames: The Age of Ceramics (15 Oct 2021 to 6 Feb 2022). Twomey’s vast sculpture examined the use and value of an array of tableware. Its collapsing movement raised contemporary questions of over-production, over-consumption and recycling. Oscillating between the functional and sculpture, as an introduction to the exhibition, the installation invited visitors to revise any preconceived ideas about ceramics and more specifically porcelain. 

Factory: the seen and unseen, Tate Modern, UK, 2017–2018

At Tate Modern, Clare Twomey created Factory: the seen the unseen (2017 – 2018) transforming the space into a factory making everyday objects from clay. The idea of a factory refers to shared labour, with a production line composed of many parts and processes and where through shared goals a product is completed. This factory was a place of simulation with the intent of drawing visitors into a conversation about how we connect to our everyday ideas of labour, value and exchange. 

clay sculpture by Phoebe Cummings, appears to be hanging from a ceiling with a window behind
Phoebe Cummings, Cumulus (detail), Lismore Castle Arts, 2023

Phoebe CummingsDeepfake Eden, Art Basel, Switzerland, June 2023. 

Phoebe Cummings produced a new commissioned work for Arcual, presented at Art Basel, 2023.  The temporary sculpture was acquired by Arcual, utilising their digital dossier feature to simultaneously archive and collect this ephemeral work in clay. 

To Walk in the Image, Lismore Castle Arts, Cork, Ireland Mar-May 2023. 

At the heart of the exhibition was an expanded view of the photographic medium. To Walk in the Image directly responded to the site of the gallery as a former chapel and ideas of spirituality, ritual and the land. Early Christian chapels were often built on ancient pagan sites of worship where respect was sewn into human behaviour around the rhythms by which the land breathes, grows, dies back, and rejuvenates. As part of the exhibition, Phoebe Cummings created a large hanging piece from raw clay titled Cumulus. Suspended in the middle of the chapel, the cloud-like mass sought to bring the earth inside, introducing the exterior to the interior. Alongside the sculptural work, Cummings presented a series of videos titled Towards a flower, revealing the intimate process of making by hand.  

Create an inflatable building, The Portland Inn Project Thinkbelt, (part of Look Who’s Talking, UK). Photo: Glen Stoker

Tessa Peters | Song of the Wind, Yaksan, Republic of Korea, 2022 – 2023

Tessa Peters was Associate Curator and Researcher on Song of the Wind, an ecologically focused residency that engaged with the local people of Yaksan, a village in southwest Korea (2022 – 2023). The project, directed by Korean curator Sunyoung Oh and funded by Arts Council Korea, hosted artists from Ireland, Indonesia, Korea, Portugal, the Philippines and Thailand to develop artworks and activities in collaboration with the residents of Yaksan. 

Look Who’s Talking, online/international, 2022 –

For the related socially collaborative online project Look Who’s Talking (2022 and ongoing) Tessa Peters took the role of Associate Curator (UK). This initiative, also directed by Sunyoung Oh, engages with a range of artistic, social, political and ecological themes raised by participants in Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, The Netherlands, The Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and the UK. The selected UK artists and collectives: Ceramics Research Centre-UK, Clayground Collective, The Portland Inn Project and Leap Then Look.


Ceramics in the Expanded Field: Behind the Scenes at the Museum (2011–2014) 

Ceramics in the Expanded Field was a 3-year project undertaken by the CRC-UK which produced the first critical overview of the relationship between contemporary ceramics and curatorial practice in museum culture through artistic collaboration with specific collections and the publication of critical writing. 

Working closely with the Freud Museum in London, York Art Gallery and Plymouth City Museum and Gallery, the researchers examined how ceramic artists could animate museum collections in new ways. The in-depth project website published bi-monthly commissioned essays from key international writers in the field. Contemporary Clay and Museum Culture, an anthology of critical writing on ceramics and museology, published by Routledge, contextualised and defined the powerful relationship between ceramic practice and museology within the broader international arena of visual culture. A series of symposia, a major international conference and a major final exhibition were staged to draw attention to the significance of contemporary ceramic practice within museums and develop a wider audience for both areas. 


The international clay seminar series instigated by the CRC-UK with NYU in 2022 will be reprised in early 2024 with additional partners from the Ceramics Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, and the Indian Ceramics Triennale.

Watch the 2022 seminars here:

Fragments & Dissonance

What is the Artwork?

Why Clay, Why Now


Professor Clare Twomey – c.twomey@westminster.ac.uk