Tate Modern to open ceramics factory

21st August 2017

The Tate Modern in London is to host a new exhibition that will see the introduction of a ceramics factory to its fifth floor. Here, visitors will be able to volunteer to take part in a 30-metre production line, casting or moulding jugs, or even just helping to keep the space clean. 

Featuring eight tonnes of clay, this ambitious commission will be created by artist Clare Twomey and will include a wall of drying racks and over 2,000 fired clay objects. 

Art enthusiasts will be able to enter the exhibition to either admire the processes of a ceramics factory or help to create the jugs, teapots and flowers being produced. 

Ms Twomey wants to help visitors feel as though they are going on a journey. She said that the first thing people will encounter will be a number of huge pyramids of commercial unfired clay. Following this, they will see a production line with 20 trained workers - all of whom will be volunteers. 

“If people feel they can take up a job on the bench they will be welcomed by the already working factory team there,” Ms Twomey told the Guardian. “Or they can take up other smaller jobs like pushing things, or mopping the floor.

“Some people will watch and go ‘OK that’s how cups are made'. You might get somebody who walks in, sees the huge piles of clay, sees the production line and decides it is not for them.”

As a type of souvenir, visitors who take part in the exhibition will be able to take with them either a cup or flower. 

According to the Guardian, the exhibition will explore production and collective labour, both the apparent and the unseen. During the first week of the exhibition volunteers will work on the ceramics and in week two visitors will be invited to enter a factory soundscape and join a tour of the ceramics factory that will explain how communities are built by collective labour. 

This installation will be the second programme of Tate Exchange, which occupies level five of Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building.

In first year of this programme, over 50 partners occupied the space to showcase a range of participatory arts activities, including Central St Martins creating a temporary art school. 

Anna Cutler, the director of Tate Learning, believes that the installation will be a “very sophisticated approach” to a subject that is often considered brutal and bland.

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