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Academic explores queer identity through glass and ceramics

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Published on 04 April 2023

Professor Andrew Livingstone
Professor Andrew Livingstone

An artist, academic writer and University of Sunderland professor is using glass and ceramics to bring his LGBTQI+ research to life as part of a new exhibition.

Andrew Livingstone’s work has already been included in several collections worldwide, including Taiwan’s Yingge Ceramics Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. 

He has also delivered several papers at conferences worldwide and contributed to, edited and authored several books, including The Ceramics Reader (Bloomsbury) and Beyond Disciplinarity: Historical Evolutions of Research Epistemology (Routledge).

Now, the Professor of Ceramics, is part of a new exhibition at the National Glass Centre (NGC). 

The free exhibition, Confluence, is displayed until 10 September 2023. It was developed from an initial conversation between Andrew and Julia Stephenson, Head of Arts at NGC. 

Dutch artist Bouke de Vries and British artist Andrea Walsh, both known for their ceramics work, were invited to join Andrew on a visit to the NGC’s Glass and Ceramics department where they were given access to experts and specialised equipment. 

The NGC team, including lecturers, artist facilitators, graduates and students, worked with each artist on their work. The results can be seen in the exhibition, produced and curated by independent curator and consultant Gregory Parsons.

Andrew uses glass and ceramic artworks to explore queer identity, from both a personal narrative and through historical and political reference points. 

Andrew’s glass pieces include an exact scale replica of the home of British gay rights campaigner and founder of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, Allan Horsfall.

Andrew said: “My work historically has to a large extent been politically motivated extended by a critical narrative consisting mostly of installation works, film and digital media and ephemeral conceptual approaches that have been gallery based. This residency affords me the opportunity to explore alternative platforms for creativity based upon objects and editions whilst exploring a material that is new to me.

The work for this exhibition emerges from a recent painting that depicts a self-portrait and is based on a personal narrative that explores queer identity, its construction and reading. The clay artwork in this exhibition demonstrates a return to fired ceramic within my work with a particular focus on layered glaze surface, text, and graphic imagery. This exploration is an extension of current studio practice based on painting and drawing which is transposed to the ceramic surface and extended through the medium of glass.”

Andrew, who is also lead of CARCuos, the Ceramic Arts Research Centre at the University of Sunderland, added: “Art has the ability to provoke, challenge, question and influence social, political and economic change, with this in mind, I hope that this current work and future research contributes to queer discourses and demonstrates the potential for creative practice to have impact and make change.”

The Confluence exhibition is in NGC’s main gallery. More information about the exhibition and other events at NGC can be found here