The first two-week project at Wimbledon for the 3D design students who choose ceramics is always the tea cup and saucer. The students are required to visit the Richard Slee exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, From Utility to Futility.
Usually there are 12 -15 students, but this year with the loss of fashion as a subject and yet the same number of students overall, 30 students chose to try ceramics as their option for 3D design. This has meant that some students have to work in a room adjacent to the ceramic studio which cannot physically accommodate more than 15 students .
I asked my head of area if I could sit in on the crit at the end of the first group to get a better understanding of what this entails. He agreed that I could observe only. Unlike the other subject areas, in the project timescale nothing gets fired or finished unless it is made with paper porcelain and/or raw glazed. Students have to present their work raw, and talk about how they might finish it if they had had more time. I was pleasantly surprised by one student who had made small tea bowls with leaf sprigs in terracotta clay, and said his influence was the Indian studio potter, Adil Writer.
In 2002 I attended a workshop run by Betty Woodman in India at Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry, and had met Adil at this course. I had left the 1001 cups brochure in the studio which the student had picked up and from there googled Indian ceramic artists. The student spoke about the connection with India as where tea is grown, and also mentioned the unglazed quality of the chai cup.
I was thrilled to be able to have had this kind of feedback on inspiring the student, and would not have gathered this information had I not attended the crit. This turned out to be a very rewarding experience.