Talent Development Programme: Week 4

Media category
Recorded talk
Additional information

Originally recorded 14 October 2021

About the Talent Development Programme – Week 4

Join us for the Talent Development Programme – Week 4, which is the final week of our BCB festival Talent Development talks in partnership with the creative business development programme Factory. Explore a broad spectrum of clay practice. See how other artists work and progress their practice within the field of contemporary ceramics. Leading the programme for week 4 is artist and potter Helen Beard, artist and educator Matt Smith, artist and researcher Sam Lucas and lecturer, practice-based researcher and learning designer Dena Bagi.


What this session covers

Helen Beard provides a unique insight into her process, her experience of working with others and sustaining creativity. Helen’s bone china collection has developed gradually over the last ten years. From porcelain to bone china, from studio production to manufacture at Duchess China 1888. Over time the production process has been modified and improved, resulting in a range of her illustrated vessels which are functional and fun and designed for everyday use.

An informal conversation between Matt Smith and Artistic Programme Manager Rhiannon Ewing-James invites questions and discussion around the working relationships and friendships between artists, makers and galleries. Matt takes us through some successful relationships which have contributed to his practice over time, as well as a couple of ‘doomed’ ones. They reflect on experiences with curators, galleries, the public and fellow artists, which acknowledges the need for us all to work together in the best way we can.

Sam Lucas and Dena Bagi will explore how clay enables us to understand or represent ourselves as humans by delving into practice and research. This exploration will take shape through discussion and demonstration.


This session is for artists

  • Who are starting out in their practice or who are early or progressing in their career in ceramics
  • Interested in connecting with peers and fellow artists, makers and potters who are also setting out in their practice
  • Who want to learn from the experience of established makers, potters and artists working in the field of ceramics
  • Who are interested in having a line of work produced in manufacture and want to learn from others’ experience
  • Who want to learn more about the different relationships we might have with other professionals in the field of ceramics
  • Wanting to know the potential and research behind the use of clay as a tool in exploring the self


The Talent Development Programme – Week 4 was delivered by

Helen Beard is a potter and illustrator and a people watcher at heart. She works from her London studio where she makes, draws, designs and sometimes teaches. The local area and people inspire much of her work. There are many characters who crop up again and again in her sketchbooks and on her pots – from swimmers in the parks to traders at the local markets. After her BA at Edinburgh College of Art, Helen began an eighteen-month apprenticeship with artist and writer Edmund de Waal. It was here that she learnt to throw and was able to develop her drawing technique onto porcelain. She later introduced apprenticeships to her studio through the charitable trust Adopt a Potter. Helen Beard website link.


Sam Lucas’s creative practice revolves around the relationship of the self and the world through the lens of the body by creating ambiguous, figurative forms. She encourages the viewer to be curious and question their relationship to their body and how others may be different from them, or the same. Sam Lucas website link.


Dena Bagi is a lecturer and a practice-based researcher in the arts sector. Her research practice involves working closely with community members and artists to curate clay workshops, projects and learning/play spaces. She believes passionately that working with clay has a profound effect on ‘healing’ and health in general. Dena Bagi website link.


Matt Smith’s practice slips between craft and fine art. He often works in response to museum collections, with solo shows at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Pitt Rivers. In 2018 he was awarded Object of the Show at Collect and in 2020 the Brookfield Prize by the Craft Council. He is a Professor of Ceramics at Konstfack University Stockholm. Matt Smith website link.



Subtitles are available. Furthermore, if you have any access requirements or needs, please get in touch with us via info@britishceramicsbiennial.com.


Supported By

This event is supported by ACAVA, the European Regional Development Fund, Factory, the Fresh Talent Programme crowdfunding, Schroder Charity Trust and Staffordshire University.


This is the ACAVA logo.