As a visiting Artist-in-Residence to the center in November 2008, I was lucky enough to meet and work with the participants of the winter 2008 program. The range of interests, international backgrounds, and strong personalities created a dynamic and incredibly hardworking environment.

The group worked across a broad spectrum of the ceramics world; from production and surface decoration; through the process led investigations – pushing the limitations of the materials; to installation pieces which forced the viewer to stop, think and challenge their own perspective on the world. The group was well selected by the center and helped to create a fantastic working environment.

After completing a BA/MA most ceramic graduates are faced with the challenge of ‘what is my next step?’ The network provides an incredible introduction to the international ceramics arena – it is a unique opportunity in what can be a sometimes-challenging area of practice. The series of talks, lectures, workshops, curating and installing an exhibition at the culmination of the program both support and challenge in equal measures, allowing participants to discover their own strengths and weaknesses, and introduce the various areas of professional practice outside of the ceramic focus.

The biggest inspiration is, of course, the participants, and what they bring to the experience with their approach, their own practice, their background (both cultural and educational) and training; but the location – Guldagergaard – is perhaps one of the most inspiring places I’ve had the privilege of working and spending time. The Danish approach to ceramics and creative practice, in general, is incredible, and the welcome at the center, from staff and residents, is always warm. Cooking and eating together on a daily basis helps to form the amazing community whilst at the center – and challenges each individual to produce some real taste sensations!!

As a ceramic practitioner and educator within professional practice, I am aware of many of the opportunities available to new graduates, and I am clear on the challenges they face. I believe that hard work, determination and a desire to contribute to the ceramics world, as well as talent, are what helps individuals to succeed in this field. I am of the firm opinion that Project Network helps new graduates along this path at a much greater pace than on their own.

CJ O’Neill
Ceramic artist and senior lecturer , Manchester School of Art (MMU)