Wilson, C (2017) Applying studio ceramic practice to constructions of meaning in relation to the banal mug, utilizing the Shepton Collection as a creative tool. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.


This practice led research investigates the banal ceramic mug, scrutinizing its potential for constructions of meaning, drawing upon theories of material culture to examine human/object relationships. The thesis makes special reference to the Shepton Collection, comprised of 412 drink related vessels. Belonging to a cider factory in Somerset, the collection spans industrial pottery production from the 1780s to the beginning of the 21st century. It also offers insight into local cultural norms embedded in the broader contexts of identity, in both domestic and public domains, those being the home and the cider/public house, exposing hierarchies of consumption implicit in the factory made ceramic mug. The corresponding creative practice utilizes the Shepton Collection as a relational and comparative tool to examine notions of contemporary cultural identity expressed via the banal ceramic mug. Drawing upon physical characteristics of the twin handled loving cup (a form synonymous with cider drinking), the practice explores and exploits particular themes identified within the Shepton Collection. As a contribution to knowledge the research has identified the value of considering a collection of seemingly banal objects as a viable tool to creatively analyse the significance of human/object relationships embedded in the everyday. Conceptually the practice led research has mobilized an unexpected application of banality, expressed through a series of significant bodies of ceramic works, applying increasing pressure to the simple mug form, its perceived use and ability to bear the weight of deep emotional engagement. Consequently material and cultural familiarity are challenged in terms of object encounter and the emotional impact the practice has engendered. The combined processes of cataloguing the Shepton Collection, the subsequent practice and theoretical analysis, has necessitated a tripartite approach to the research and is addressed as pre-studio, studio and post-studio activities. This approach also provides a model for future practice led research that intends to examine and correspond to already existent objects.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

Thesis supervised by Graham McLaren.

In addition to the contextualising research, this thesis also includes a hardbound volume entitled 'The Shepton Collection Catalogue'.

Keywords: practice-led research, ceramics, mugs, drinking vessels, Shepton Collection, cider, Somerset, 18th century, 19th century, 20th century, 21st century, everyday objects, cultural identity, domestic life, public houses
Divisions: Bath School of Art and Design
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2018 16:38
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2018 16:41
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