British Ceramics Biennial announces winners of UK’s leading ceramics prize AWARD and Fresh awards for new talent.
Stephen Dixon has been named the winner of AWARD, the leading platform for contemporary ceramic art practice in the UK and one of the flagship exhibitions at this year’s British Ceramics Biennial, which takes place in Stoke-on-Trent until 17 October.
Stephen Dixon was selected from a shortlist of 10 artists and awarded the £5,000 prize for excellence, innovation and creative ambition. His winning work, Transient: The Ship of Dreams and Nightmares is a 4m-long silhouette of a dilapidated Mediterranean fishing vessel, the stereotypical image of a refugee shipwreck. The work is created from a series of suspended maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware) objects, each one representing either the dream of a new life in a place of refuge or the nightmare of conflict, displacement or forced migration. These objects, which range from a life jacket to a rocking horse were chosen during online discussion groups with refugees and asylum seekers from the Burslem Jubilee Project based in Stoke-on-Trent.
In his practice Stephen Dixon uses ceramics to investigate contemporary narratives. The technique of maiolica used in this work originated in nineth century Iraq, and gradually spread across the Mediterranean into Moorish Spain, Renaissance Italy and eventually into Northern Europe.
Transient: The Ship of Dreams and Nightmares draws upon the geographical similarity between the historic migration of maiolica and the migration routes of contemporary refugees and asylum seekers.
Alun Graves Senior Curator Ceramics and Glass V&A and Chair of the selection panel comments: ‘Stephen Dixon’s work – Transient: The Ship of Dreams and Nightmares – demonstrates ceramics’ ability to address the pressing issues of our times. It is outstanding in concept, design and execution. It engages meaningfully with the hopes and fears of migrant experience, painstakingly rendering in ceramic objects that have symbolic value for refugees and asylum seekers from the Burslem Jubilee Project. With great clarity, it represents their voices, while allowing his own artistic voice a quieter supporting role. As such it stands as a work of exceptional humanity, as well as one of remarkable aesthetic presence.’
Stephen Dixon was selected from a 10-strong list of artists who together provide a snapshot and celebration of current activity in ceramic art. The other shortlisted artists were Helen Beard, Christie Brown, Alison Cooke, Connor Coulston, Tamsin van Essen, Mawuena Kattah, Jin Eui Kim, Ho Lai and Cleo Mussi, all of whom have created new work currently on show at this year’s BCB festival.
Three early career artists at a launch moment in their creative practice have been awarded Fresh residency opportunities. Dorcas Casey, Nico Conti and Leora Honeyman were chosen from 25 artists from UK and Ireland exhibiting in BCB’s Fresh exhibition, which celebrates and gives a critical platform for the new wave of makers, artists and designers working in clay as they begin their creative careers.
Dorcas Casey, a sculptor interested in ideas around dreams, stories, intuition and memory, will undertake a residency at Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center; Nico Conti, whose delicate work embraces the tradition and heritage of his upbringing in Malta and sees him pairing clay with 3D printing technologies, will take up a residency at Staffordshire University; and Leora Honeyman’s residency with the British Ceramics Biennial will see her develop her sculptural, abstract forms that combine clay with different materials and making processes.
All the winning artists from AWARD and Fresh will be invited to present new work in the 2023 British Ceramics Biennial.
For more press information and images, please contact: Iliana Taliotis on +44 (0)7931 341 112 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
BCB AWARD 2021 judging panel:
- Alun Graves - Senior Curator Ceramics and Glass V&A (Chair)
- Clare Twomey – Artist, Researcher and Writer
- Vicky Lindo and William Brookes – AWARD 2019 winners
- Barney Hare Duke – Former Artistic Director, British Ceramics Biennial
- Deirdre Figueiredo – Director, Craftspace
- Anjani Khanna – Atist and Co-founding Curator of the Indian Ceramics Triennale
- Skinder Hundal – Director of Arts, British Council
Fresh 2021 selection panel:
- Helen Felcey – Artist, Educator and Curator (Chair)
- Dr Neil Brownsword – Artist and Professor, Staffordshire University
- Lee Critchlow – Product Design Manager, Wedgwood Fiskars
- Dr Natasha Mayo – Senior Lecturer, Cardiff Metropolitan University
- Bisila Noha – Artist, Trustee at Headway East London, Co-Director at Lon Art, part of Design Can
- Shane Porter – Designer and Lecturer, Belfast Metropolitan College
- Youth Panel from Haywood Academy Secondary School, Stoke-on-Trent. Supported by Miss Helen Morgan
British Ceramics Biennial funders:
The British Ceramics Biennial is funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.