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Richard in the Studio 2
Marking the Line: Ceramics and Architecture
Marking the Line: Ceramics and Architecture

Our Aims

Advancement of the Arts

Through encouraging interest and commitment in artists who engage in the disciplines of: ceramics, glass, silver, wood and other media. The Foundation offers frequent opportunities to hear artists talk about their practice at evening events in the Joanna Bird Gallery, London. Exhibitions, seminars, visits to workshops, film screening and publications are organised by the Foundation. Furthermore, we are building a reference library to aid future research.

To inspire makers

The Foundation nurtures emerging artists and established professionals to deepen their practice, and to extend their vision. The Foundation encourages large scale work for public spaces by supporting innovation and bold work with good design and craftsmanship, producing honest and genuine work with integrity.

The advancement of education

The Foundation is always pleased to guide practitioners and those wishing to discover more by improving their skills and knowledge in the Decorative Arts. Mentoring opportunities are provided wherever possible. It is through education and contact with established professionals that younger artists and those aspiring to make work acquire the discipline and integrity that professional artists depend upon for their careers and their work.

In 2013, the Foundation produced its first project, the touring exhibition Marking the line: Ceramics and Architecture. It was a life-specific exhibition of contemporary ceramics makers and their brief was to respond to the life and work of neoclassical architect, Sir John Soane. The artists invited to make new work were Christie Brown, Carina Ciscato, Nicholas Rena and Clare Twomey.

Marking the line traveled to three venues; Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn, Port Eliot in Cornwall and Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing. A brochure was published to document the exhibition, with photography in all three venues by Hélène Binet. Complementing the exhibition were classes for the visually impaired, young offenders, older adults and a symposium for curators and arts professionals at Somerset House. The intention was to find common ground between the disciplines of Ceramics and Architecture. This produced some excellent papers and the entire event at Somerset House was filmed. Keynote speakers were Eric Parry, Suzanne Lovell, Glenn Adamson took the chair and it was a wonderfully inspiring day.

This project was made possible through the financial support provided by Arts Council England (ACE), as well as generous private donors.

The first film the Foundation produced was a portrait of Richard Batterham and his life in clay entitled Richard Batterham, Master Potter in 2017. Film maker Alex J. Wright was engaged to do the videography.

How it came about:

Joanna felt that it was imperative to make a film about Batterham – the last of a line; a potter of great distinction. He was a prime example of how one man with due talent, diligence and discipline can achieve a remarkable and successful lifetime’s work making pots which truly enhanced life.

The aim of the film was to record Batterham’s philosophy as a legacy for the next generation, which the Foundation hope will inform and inspire those who view it.

To purchase a copy of the DVD, please click here.

Our Further Aims

  • To make the experience of established artists available to other makers and to create opportunities for exchanges between them. Sometimes this may be interaction with other disciplines.
  • To build an archive of different disciplines by producing films that record practices which might otherwise die out, for posterity. All productions are to be of high quality creating a collection of artistic practices worthy of National libraries, Art colleges and Collectors.
  • To create exhibitions which open eyes and question existing beliefs, and in doing so, alter preconceptions.
  • To make people aware of elegant concepts in art and the enduring grace that can be found in hand-made objects. By focusing on the beauty of the creative mind, it can be demonstrated how joy in the making permeate into our everyday lives in different forms; philosophy, movement, and appreciation of form.
  • To underline the importance of the creative spirit in breaking down international barriers by making available renewal of spirit and imagination, through tours, education and publications.

Founder's Profile

Joanna Bird is an international Curator, Consultant and Critic with over thirty years of experience in the art world as practitioner and commentator. She has built a reputation as an expert in the field, seeking out works of art which have been acquired by Museums, Corporations and private collectors worldwide.

Joanna originally trained in the 70s as a potter with Michael Cardew (1901-1983) and practised in her own right before setting up a contemporary ceramics gallery in 1994. In the past she has specialised in ceramics but more recently she has become fascinated by the history and making of glass.

In 2012 Joanna established the Joanna Bird Foundation with a mission to support emerging talents and to explore new concepts within the field of the Decorative Arts. Two major projects presented by the Foundation were; the inaugural touring exhibition Marking the line: Ceramics and Architecture in 2013 and the film Richard Batterham, Master Potter in 2017. Her current project for the Foundation is focused on historic and contemporary glass and on a film about the photographer Hélène Binet.

Image below: Galena dish with slip trailed bird by Michael Cardew, circa 1936

Below: Images of works by Joanna Bird made at Goldsmiths College, Wenford Bridge and Shebbear Pottery.

Your donations help us to fund new projects and support the Decorative Arts