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Meet ceramicist Matt Raw

photo of tiles
29 Jan 2019
4 min read

London-based ceramic artist Matt Raw talks us through his creative process as he leads a month–long course, specially put together for Make! The New Brutal

How did you get into ceramics and clay?

On my ‘WMCP’ (wood, metal, ceramics and plastics) BA at the University of Brighton. I had an amazing tutor in Alma Boyes, loved the ceramics workshop which was full of beautiful South coast light, and was attracted to the immediacy of the material.

Can you talk us through your creative process?

I don’t have one way of working. The client and parameters around the project are obviously influential. Recently I’ve really enjoyed the challenges of working with architects. Left to my own devices, I try and work out how I’m fitting into society. Tiles are my focus at the moment, and I enjoy using their familiarity to help communicate my thoughts.

What can people expect from this workshop?

Because it is the Barbican, we have really pushed the ideas and ambition for this set of sessions. I’ve never ran this workshop, and am super excited to see how the building and it’s reputation will influence the objects that we will make. I hope to create an atmosphere where everyone feels inspired, challenged and excited. Each participant will be taken through a thorough design process and make a piece of glazed, ceramic sculpture.

I think people are after a hands-on activity in reaction to the world becoming so digitised, and clay is fast, fun and accessible. I teach at all levels and see the joy that people get from handling mud! The history of ceramics is intimidatingly long and rich, but it doesn’t stop people making cups, art, tiles and more, and I love it for that.

The history of ceramics is intimidatingly long and rich

How will the Barbican and its surroundings inspire you during these workshops?

The iconic shapes and textures are fantastic starting points for our interpretations, and we will be incredibly fortunate to be making the work in the building itself. I hope it will spark ideas and conversations about the importance of architecture, and how it shapes and influences our daily lives.

Can you explain a little about the techniques used in your workshop?

We will be essentially be using a technique called ‘slab-building’ – making and joining flat pieces of clay together – but will be pushing the texture, form and context of the pieces. I hope everyone develops different techniques and methods throughout the weeks.

Clay always attracts such a fantastic range of people

Do you have any advice for any budding makers looking to work with clay?

Clay always attracts such a fantastic range of people and I would say that makers should look at bringing their interests and thoughts from ‘outside’ into to the studio. That way, whatever is created will have an interesting story and a personal voice.

What’s your favourite part of the Barbican?

For years I struggled with all of the entrances, so I’d say getting lost is my favourite part. Recently I found myself in an unknown corridor and discovered some incredible ceramic murals by Dorothy Annan.

Book your place now: Brutal Textures: Sculptural Ceramic Course (2-31 Mar) is a one-month long ceramics course led by Matt Raw.

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