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Ceramics and locational identity: Investigating the symbolism of material culture in relation to a sense of place

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This article is an investigation into material culture and its symbolism in terms of place and space and addresses the research question ‘why do select ceramic artefacts evoke or become symbolic of a specific location and sense of place?’. The research covers the areas of conceptual ceramic design, craft culture and practice-led research. Dutch design duo Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyck – Atelier NL – are discussed as an example of contemporary designer makers who create objects that embody social meaning and express an evocative sense of locational identity. The two Eindhoven-based designer-makers’ creative process combines and reveals different strands of academic and material enquiry and representing a creative process that flows between making, scientific knowledge, anthropology, archaeology, geology, art, design and craft. Atelier NL’s practice is representative of a current interest within visual and material culture in both practice- led research and socially engaged practice. The narrative of their research-based practice is unequivocally part of the production and presentation of their work. Atelier NL’s practice stands for a creative partnership that investigates and celebrates their locality in addition to responding to a sense of ‘culture loss’ indicative of mainstream patterns of design, production and consumption of goods and services.
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Keywords: Atelier NL; aesthetic experience; ceramics; locational identity; phenomenology; practice-led research; socially engaged practice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bath Spa University, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • The aim of Craft Research is to advocate and promote current and emerging craft research, including research into materials, processes, methods, concepts, aesthetic and style. This may be in any discipline area of the applied arts and crafts, including craft education.

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