Call for Papers | Unpacking the V&A Wedgwood Collection

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on November 22, 2022

The V&A Wedgwood Collection in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

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From the Call for Papers from the V&A:

Unpacking the V&A Wedgwood Collection
Barlaston (Stoke-on-Trent) and London, 7–8 July 2023

Proposals due by 15 February 2023

The V&A Wedgwood Collection is one of the most important industrial collections in the world and a unique record of over 260 years of British ceramic production. Owned by the V&A following a successful fundraising campaign spearheaded by Art Fund in 2014, it is on display at Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, where an imaginative public programme celebrates the diversity, creativity and depth of the collection. The conference is organised in honour of Gaye Blake-Roberts MBE, former curator of the then Wedgwood Museum. After forty years of research and achievements, she retired from her position in early 2020, continuing her research as Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the V&A Research Institute.

Wedgwood was founded in 1759 by British potter and entrepreneur 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 the Etruria site and then from 1952 at Barlaston and a newly designed museum opened in 2008, winning the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year prize in 2009. It houses the finest collection of Wedgwood material, showcasing innovations in taste and fashion over three centuries and the UNESCO recognised Wedgwood Archives.

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:

Isaac Cook, curator of the first Wedgwood Museum at the Etruria factory, sorting trays of Josiah Wedgwood’s trials © Fiskars.

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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Note (added 20 January 2023) — As initially announced here at Enfilade in November, the conference date was scheduled for 30 June — 1 July 2023; the posting has been updated with the new dates of 7–8 July.

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