Call for papers: Unpacking the V&A Wedgwood Collection



November 14, 2022

Symposium – 30 June to 1 July 2023
A two-day conference exploring new research avenues for Wedgwood studies

Our upcoming symposium Unpacking the V&A Wedgwood Collection will be held across both the V&A Wedgwood Collection site in Barlaston and the South Kensington site next summer – and we’re making a call for papers.

A statue of Wedgwood in front of the Wedgwood museum
The V&A Wedgwood Collection in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Wedgwood was founded in 1759 by British potter Josiah Wedgwood, who helped transform English pottery from a cottage craft into an art form and international industry. A museum has existed since 1906, first at Etruria, where Wedgwood’s factory had been located since 1769, and then from 1952 at Barlaston where a new factory opened in 1940.

A bearded man looks at specimens in an old museum, with shelves behind him
Isaac Cook, curator of the first Wedgwood Museum at the Etruria factory, sorting trays of Josiah Wedgwood’s trials © Fiskars

To explore the future of Wedgwood scholarship this two-day conference will celebrate the field of Wedgwood studies as it currently exists, nurture conversations to expand our understanding and push scholarship in new directions. We encourage submissions which are inspired by Wedgwood in the broadest sense.

Our conference is organised in honour of Gaye Blake-Roberts MBE, former Curator of the then Wedgwood Museum. After 40 years she retired from her position in early 2020, continuing her research as Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the V&A Research Institute. She joined the staff of the V&A in London in 1971, working in the Department of Ceramics and Glass and in 1979, Gaye joined Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd in Barlaston, as curator.

CALL FOR PAPERS

We are pleased to invite submissions from established scholars as well as emerging voices, and look forward to exploring new dialogues and disciplines which broaden our understanding of Wedgwood.

Contributions are invited for four research themes:

1.         Beyond Josiah Wedgwood – re-examining the narrative
2.         Global Wedgwood
3.         Creativity, technology, economics and labour
4.         Impressions of the past – contemporary ceramic making

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Transatlantic and continental trade
  • Creativity, design and artists
  • Race
  • Economics and labour
  • Disability
  • Workshop traditions
  • Female contributions to the development and history of Wedgwood and ceramics
  • Production and consumption of ceramics
  • Empire and colonialism
  • Technology
  • Class
  • Displaying and collecting of ceramics
  • Social histories of ceramics
  • Factory architecture and employee welfare

Please submit a 400-word abstract outlining a 20- to 30-minute presentation along with a short biography or curriculum vitae by 15 February 2023 to r.klarner@vam.ac.uk. These will be reviewed by the organising committee. Selected participants will be notified by 15 March 2023.

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