Material culture can be used to enact class, for instance through the fashioning of the body through dress and through the decoration of interior domestic space. Classical material culture has been part of British material culture from at least the 17th century onwards and as such has played an important role in delineating class distinctions. Its popularity in the late 18th century and 19th century is to be seen within the context of British colonialism and rising luxury consumption, itself a marker of class.
In 18th and 19th century Britain, Greek pots were seen as the cheap cousins of more durable and “elevated” marble sculpture. The reception of Greek pots is receiving increasing scholarly attention, but research has focused predominantly on elite reception, notably collections in the houses of the rich, and expensive ceramics, furnishings and fashions, inspired directly by Greek pots and indirectly by their two-dimensional images in publications.
This symposium seeks to bring to prominence hitherto marginalized working class and middle class engagements with Greek pots in Britain within the period 1789-1939. Approaches include the exploration of non-elite viewing of Greek pots in houses and museums, and non-elite crafting of imitations of Greek pots in the Potteries; while broader issues include the role of gender on such engagements, the problem of accessing experiences of marginalized groups with limited evidence, and the problematic meaning of “class”.
Tickets are free but spaces are limited. Booking is required via Eventbrite.
In addition, there are five spaces available for symposium attendees at a Ceramics Handling Session at the Victoria and Albert Museum between 15.00 to 17.00. Please book additionally via the dedicated Eventbrite page.