We’re are currently interesting in running the studio as coop and are looking for members to be apart of this.
If you are interested please contact us via the website.



Winter Fair for December Digbeth First Friday

Modern Clay Winter Fair

For the December edition of Digbeth First Friday Modern Clay will be holding a studio sale of ceramics and a 3D clay printing demonstration…

With ceramics for sale from –
uala Clooney
Emily Hawes
Sophie Huckfield
Jo Masding
Sophie McKinney
Suzi Osborn
Laurie Ramsell
Sarah Taylor Silverwood

Modern Clay,
Unit 17,
Minerva Works,
158 Fazeley Street,

B5 5RT

We have a contactless card machine + take cash

Also we’re all heading to the Grand Union Xmas Party after at digbeth more info click here

Thank you!

Clare Thornton ‘Materials of Resistance – Absent but Present’

Clare Thornton
‘Materials of Resistance – Absent but Present’

4th-25th May 2018

Opening event Friday 4th May 6-8pm Closing event Friday 25th May 10-12 am

Otherwise open by appointment

Clare Thornton will present a selection of new works at Modern Clay, Grand Union opening on Digbeth First Friday, May 4th. This selection is drawn from her latest body of work ‘Materials of Resistance’ which develops her longstanding interest in falling and folding.

Clare grew up in Birmingham and is now based in Plymouth. Originally coming from a performance background, in recent years Clare has been working with a range of malleable materials, including her body in this mix, to test her thinking around repetition, transformation and the trans-decorative. She presents her ideas through sculptural installation, live events and book works. A new publication to support this project is included as part of the display, containing contextual and experimental texts by writers/artists Phil Owen, Emma Cocker, Conor Wilson, Heike Roms and Natalie Raven.

This sharing of new works with Modern Clay marks the beginning of an exchange between artists and curators in Birmingham and Plymouth supported by PAC Home and Grand Union. Lucy Rollins, one of the curators of Clare’s recent exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre where she is Assistant Curator, will do studio visits with Modern Clay artists in residence. Modern Clay’s founder Mark Essen will in return visit Plymouth to present an artist talk at PAC Home and meet with artists there. Through these kinds of exchange, our ambition is to open up dialogue between artists and curators in Birmingham and Plymouth, resulting in a strong network that creates new opportunities for artists in both cities.


‘The Art of Bonsai: For Beginners’ hosted by Modern Clay

‘The Art of Bonsai: For Beginners’ hosted by Modern Clay

A unique course combining bonsai and pottery.

Join Modern Clay and Tree In A Pot’s Andy Baker for a curated course in bonsai tree and pot making.

Learn about tree work and the theory behind this with bonsai specialist Andy Baker. He will also impart his knowledge on plant feeding and cover some of the science behind this. Attendants will get access to Modern Clay studio to make a clay pot for their bonsai tree, and later glaze the pot to create a special finish. Lastly, the course will be wrapped up by planting the bonsai in the finished clay pots.

There are only 10 places on this course taught across 4 Lessons which will last around 3 hours.

Each participant will receive a bonsai tree and their own specially made clay pot.

Session 1 March 10th

Tree work, single tree into a training pot with basic styling. (Theory and practical workshop) demonstrate group plantings what we will be aiming to achieve in week 4

Session 2 March 17th

Pot theory and practical clay workshop where you will be making a landscape pot and accent pot
for your bonsai group/forest.

Session 3 March 24th

Glaze the pot from previous week and theory about planting of seeds, working with cuttings,
plant science and aesthetics behind successful bonsai.

Session 4 April 7th

The finale!
Planting of trees (group planting into ceramic pot) planting a plant into accent pot. With Photo session!

All lessons will be held from 10am to 1pm at Modern Clay

Modern Clay

Unit 17 Minerva Works
Fazeley Street
B5 5RT 


Introduction to clay workshop


Introduction to clay with Mark Essen

In this practical 2 hour workshop you will learn the basics of step-by-step process of clay into ceramic.
We will also explore two techniques used in pottery and will be given an insight into basic processes.

This workshop is for up to 10 people, it is ideal for those with no previous clay experience or
those who want to know about the techniques of hand building.

11.00 – 13.00

Phoebe Cummings at Modern Clay

Pleased to have a workshop with Phoebe Cummings next month 11th November see below for link for tickets.

In this workshop you will work with artist Phoebe Cummings to explore the potential of sprig molding and hand building techniques. Two-dimensional designs will be used as a starting point to create simple press molds, from which you will construct and adapt into more elaborate three-dimensional forms. This workshop will consider relationships between historic design and contemporary sculpture.

This workshop is aimed at beginners and intermediate experience of clay.

Lunch will be provided with this workshop at nearby Dig Brew Co, River Street.

Phoebe Cummings studied Three-Dimensional Crafts at the University of Brighton, before completing an MA in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art in 2005. She hasundertaken a number of artist residencies, in the UK, USA and Greenland, including a three-month Arts/Industry residency at the Kohler Co. factory, Wisconsin (2008) and six months as ceramics artist-in-residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2010). Cummings was the winner of the British Ceramics Biennial Award in 2011 and exhibitions have included a commission for the Museum of Arts & Design, New York and a solo show at the University of Hawaii Art Gallery, Honolulu. She was awarded the second ceramics fellowship at Camden Arts Centre 2012 and is shortlisted for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize 2017. She is currently Research Associate at the Ceramics Research Centre UK – University of Westminster.

Artist in Residence

Emily Hawes and Laurie Ramsell are currently artists in residence at Modern Clay.

Both Birmingham based artists will be working in the studio researching and developing new works.

Emily will be expanding the role of slipcast ceramics within her work, broadly exploring entanglements between nature, culture and bodies. While on the residency she will be experimenting with the cultivation of local plant-life making responses to the location of Modern Clay through a playful series of ‘Digbeth Ikebana’.

Laurie will be researching methods of clay 3D printing technology and researching into unconventional means of making humans. His work often explores ancient beliefs that humans can be made using recipes and from materials such as marble and clay, through a process known as ‘spontaneous generation’ or material evolution.

Both artists will be working in the studios for the next two months with public presentations in the future.


Laurie Ramsell, novo sapiens, 2015
Laurie Ramsell, Novo Sapiens, 2015










Emily Hawes,Liquid Assets,2016
Emily Hawes,Liquid Assets,2016











Introduction to Ceramics with Nam Tran

Introduction to Ceramics with Nam Tran
Saturday 2nd September
two workshops
10.30 – 12.30
14.00 – 16.00

In this 2 hour workshop you will learn the basics of ceramics, from hand building techniques to
wheel work. You will be given an insight into the work of Nam Tran with examples of
how he makes his works.

This workshop is for up to 10 people, it is ideal for those with no previous clay experience or
those who want to know about the techniques of used by Nam Tran.

The ticket price includes drinks after the workshop at Centrala Space

Nam Tran is an award-winning practitioner who gives lectures and demos at universities and exhibits internationally.

Nam specialising in wheel thrown raku, bringing years of experience and craftsmanship to every object made. Tran’s work focused primarily on exploring the physical properties of clay and material experimentation is a strong characteristics of his work.
He has been developing making enclosed forms that are much stronger than open forms and therefore resonates well with the alternative firing technique he uses.
His work is dominated by thrown pieces that subtly echo the urban roots and conceptual design.
Nam Tran first made pots as a teenager on a wheel in his own bedroom and remembers being captivated by the experience.
With his unique alternatives methods and approach to ceramics Nam Tran identifies rules and manipulates and bends them.