Stefan Collini on metrics


…the whole audit culture rests on a superstition about numbers. As soon as numbers come into play, we are all liable to fall into what Oscar Wilde called ‘careless habits of accuracy’. A number holds out the promise of definiteness, exactness and objectivity. But a number is a signifier like any other, a way of representing something. We appeal to numbers as a way of replacing imprecise, subjective human judgment with precise, objective measurement, but in fact we are just swapping one language system for another. (And in fact not a whole ‘language’, just a limited vocabulary: almost any use of numbers, outside certain areas of mathematics and science, will be embedded in words that specify what the numbers are supposed to stand for.) The existence of any statistic is the outcome of a process of human judgment. The digital revolution has brought with it a huge increase in quantifiable information, the very existence of which provides a constant temptation to metric misbehaviour. If there are numbers to be had, we come to feel that we must have them, even though they may mislead us into thinking we have solid information about something important when in reality all we have is the precise and selective misrepresentation of something insignificant. Muller again has some wise words: ‘Measurement is not an alternative to judgment; measurement demands judgment: judgment about whether to measure, what to measure, how to evaluate the significance of what’s been measured, whether rewards and penalties will be attached to the results, and to whom to make the measurements available.’ Some people speak numbers better than others and, as always, knowledge is power.

From: Stefan Collini, ‘Kept Alive for Thirty Days’, London Review of Books, Vol. 40 No. 21, 8 November, 2018, pp. 35-38



MA Ceramics alumni set up Clay Shed


Two of our alumni – Alice Shields and Steve Sales – who had their final degree show with us in September, have set up a new ceramics facility in Bristol. We wish them great success…

We are Clay Shed, a new purpose built ceramic studio soon to be opening in Redfield Bristol.

Our ethos is largely centred on developing the practice of emerging makers, or makers wishing to engage critically with their practice. Founded by recent MA Ceramic graduates from Bath Spa university, we recognise the significance of a supportive and critically dynamic environment established during a student’s time on their course. But what happens after graduation when that network disappears? Clay Shed aims to bridge the gap between university and setting up your own studio. Developing a community of like minded, enthusiastic and enquiring makers to help challenge and progress each other’s practices.

We will offer full time studio space to professional makers. Facilities will include a desk and shelving unit for each space, shared shelving and access to kilns, glaze and plaster area as well as wheels. Wifi and electric (excluding kiln firings) will be included in the rent. There will be a small kitchen with microwave, kettle and toaster as well as WC facilities. Clay Shed management will also be running classes from our workshop/teaching space. Studio holders will able to rent this space at a reduced fee to run their own workshops subject to timetable availability.
We are currently looking for tenants to join us. Studio spaces start from £135 and will be ready from early Jan 2019.  Please do share amongst recent graduates who may be interested in joining Clay Shed. You can follow our progress on our website and on social media (Facebook and instagram)

We have also launched a crowdfunder to help raise a few extra funds. If you are interested in supporting our cause we wouldn’t say no!

Richard Batterham film at BSAD

MA Ceramics at Bath School of Art and Design is delighted to present a new film by the Joanna Bird Foundation:

Richard Batterham, Master Potter

Monday 22 October | 5:30 – 7:00 pm

BSAD, Sion Hill Lecture Theatre


A discussion between Joanna Bird and filmmaker Alex J. Wright will be chaired by Dr. Conor Wilson, after the screening.

The screening is free to all and there is no need to book.


Richard Batterham DVD poster email

We felt it was imperative to make a film about Richard Batterham – the last of a line; a potter of great distinction. He is 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 enhance life. Our aim for the film was to record Batterham’s philosophy as a legacy which we hope will inform and inspire those who see it.

We think this documentary will be of interest to practicing potters, teachers, collectors, journalists and enthusiasts. We are deeply grateful to Richard and to Alex J. Wright for all the time they have dedicated to the film, as we are to both Sir David Attenborough and Nigel Slater.

Joanna Bird


“This fine documentary is a deep dive into one man’s world of making, and the philosophy behind a life in pottery. The sense of accumulation – of time, of clay, of conviction – is palpable in every shot. We also hear from the magnificent David Attenborough and master chef Nigel Slater (who begins every day with his Batterham breakfast bowl). Their voices remind us that often, the most meaningful things in life are rooted in the everyday, indeed, in the dirt beneath our feet.” 

Glenn Adamson. Senior Research Scholar, Yale Centre of British Art 

Bruce McLean at Sion Hill

Well, it’s been quite a while since Bruce was with us in the summer. A lot has happened since then – we’ve had a brilliant degree show and said goodbye to fourteen very talented makers  and we’ve welcomed a new cohort of students (more on both to come).

workshop word work

Bruce McLean Conor Wilson Richard Winfield

Main Ceramics workshop, Sion Hill | Tuesday 24 July, from 10:00

3 x 9 squares_crop

Art Research Centre | Material: Making

A speculative project exploring paths (and aporias) between research in the art school and practice in the art world.

Amongst other things.

The project will involve talking and making and will be performative, but not a performance.

We hope to generate dialogue within the Material: Making group and across the Participant, Pedagogy and Index groups.




The project constitutes a speculative attempt to develop a situated method that combines oral history and collaborative making. Three participants, each coming to the project with their own experience of art and art schools – and their own agendas – open up and document a particular making and teaching environment, within the wider context of ‘the art school’ The workshop becomes a temporal object made of a collection of agents – space, language, the body, material, dialogue and the act of making.

The first stage of the project involved the decoration of three tile panels around and in-between interviews and open-ended dialogue. This was done over two sessions, which lasted for approximately five hours, in total. All speech was recorded and the making process was documented through time lapse photography.

The second stage of the project will involve the production of a transcript and a moving image piece.