Division of Labour does MODERN CLAY, Digbeth First Friday July



Division of Labour



David Burrows,
Jemma Egan,
Yelena Popova


Friday July 7th 6-8pm

Modern Clay
Unit 17 Minerva Works,
Fazeley Street,
B5 5RT

Looking at Art Looking at People

David Burrows, Jemma Egan, Luke McCreadie and Yelena Popova.

LaALaP is a sequel to the 2016 London exhibition entitled “Looking at People Looking at Art, curated by Mark Essen. Here the gallery was divided by a large yellow platform (with over 21 works of sculpture) and a lofty viewing gallery, a sound booth with a glass window. The audiences were given two options; to move into the room along a narrow path surrounded by the artworks or to climb into the viewing room and watch the people amongst the art.

To look at the art or to look at people looking at art.

Essen and Division of Labour are both concerned with making in two distinct ways. In Essen and Modern Clay, he makes, invites and exhibits art which is all about the art studio or the pottery, materiality, an interest in form and process. Essen’s investigation is tangible, material and physical. Division of Labour is interested in the political aspects of making, how do groups of artists deal with the society they inhabit, how do they transfer knowledge and how is art made? In particular this exhibition explores and discuss’ the shared transnational location of art making and how communities share and develop knowledge. The artists could be seen as self-controlled worker making art in isolation and at the same time making collectively in clusters or ‘innovation systems’ (1) Leadbeater and Oakley describe the transfer of knowledge through “flexible production structured around short-term relationships between artists (that is for example; private views, shared studio, talks and parties) and external partners” (galleries, group shows, talks, parties, critics and curators)

Essen describes the artists gathered here (Looking at People Looking at Art 2016) as ‘a collection of makers, doers, plants, connectors, generators, dynamos, emitters and conductors’. Manual labour, work, the importance of studio practice, making and materiality run through the objects he has collected together. This is paired with an (Division of Labour’s) interest in the modes of sociality and interaction that might occur around the works. (2)


(1) Invisible and visible geographies of artistic labour in Toronto (Bain)
(2) This is Tomorrow, Tim Dixon 2016 –

©2017 Division of Labour, 13-19 Herald Street, London E2 6JT /

Residency call out for artists at Modern Clay

Ceramics Residency 2017

Modern Clay are inviting applications from early- career West Midland based artists (up to 5 years since MA, or 10 years since BA) who wish to develop their practice within ceramics.

There are 6 residencies available for 2 months, 3 artists from August to September and 3 from September to October.   

Resident artists will be able to use the new, purpose- built studio Modern Clay, to experiment and make new work with clay. The studio is a shared space which can accommodate up to 12 people at one time.

Modern Clay will provide a set amount of clay and glaze as part of the residency, but it is expected the artist will purchase any additional materials. Technical help will also be provided.

It is expected that all artists using the space will contribute to the running of the studio, this includes helping in workshops, running monthly Digbeth First Friday events, and the general daily running of the studio. There is an emphasises on creating a community and contributing towards its collective knowledge.

The aims of the residency are to:

• Enable the selected practitioner to learn new skills and create new a body of work.

• Inspire public interest in creative practice and making.

• Raise the profile of contemporary ceramics in the region and build a community of like-minded artists.

• Offer professional development to the selected practitioner in public engagement and arts education.

As part of the residency, artists will have the opportunity to take part in an imaginative participatory programme to engage the public. This could include workshops, open studios and presentations of work, talks, family art activities, student projects and more.

The residency is aimed at people wanting to develop new skills as part of an artistic practice. In applications we seek interesting new ideas for experimentation with clay. Selections will be made based on the potential of your ideas over work already produced.

Dates: August to October 2017

Resident artist fee: £850

Deadline: Sunday 9 July 2017

To Apply

• Send a CV including your address during the residency period (only artists based in the West   Midlands during this time will be eligible)

• Up to 10 images of your work or a link to audio visual material.

• A short statement detailing why you want to work at Modern Clay, your approach and ideas for making work during the residency.

Please email application as a PDF file to with the subject “Ceramics Residency 2017”  

About Modern Clay

Modern Clay is a studio project run by Mark Essen it provides a studio facility for the production of ceramics. It is accessible for artists, local community and charitable groups and artistic educational projects. The studio will also develop a new programme of artistic opportunities for West Midlands artists.

The studio is greatly influenced by John Ruskin and the Ruskin Pottery of Smethwick, which ran from 1898 to 1935. The pottery was set up by Edward R. Taylor, who was also the first head of The Birmingham School of Art, 1877–1903. He adopted many of 19th century critic John Ruskin’s philosophies in the running of the pottery.

One of the aims of Modern Clay is to adopt and adapt the philosophy of John Ruskin and Ruskin Pottery to see what an artists’ studio can provide for society. The value of the studio is a political and economic theory of social organisation. This is practiced by means of production, distribution, and exchange, which is owned and managed by the users; they control their own productive process.

17 Minerva Works,

Fazeley Street,

B5 5RT

Residency Modern Clay