Christopher Headley

Christopher Headley graduated from BA Cermaic Design in 1973

Why did you choose ceramics?

I simply enjoyed working with clay.

Why did you study at CSM?

I thought it was the best place to study ceramics at the time. We’re talking about the early 1970s, also a great time to be in London.

What are your best memories of studying at CSM?

The whole experience felt like I had been given a key to open a door into the wide world of ceramics. I have used that key to journey to South America to search for Pre-Colombian pots, work on ceramic archaeological sites in Thailand, reside in a ceramic museum in Taiwan and have just returned from a three-month residency in Japan which also gave me an opportunity to visit Jingdezhen in China.

What is your worst memory of studying at CSM?

The thing that still haunts me was having your work “torn to shreds” during the dreaded monthly drawing crits on the bridge gallery in front of the entire entourage of students.

How did the course shape and define your future career?

I felt that I had, at my fingertips, so many processes that I could free up my thoughts, develop the skills and produce whatever my imagination could come up with. I still feel the same now some 40 years on. It certainly got me into the tertiary education system over here in Australia, both as a teacher and a postgraduate student.

When I first arrived in 1974 there were a lot of brown pots coming out of the art schools. Yet the students wanted to use coloured clays, work with their own moulds and make ceramic decals and I was able to step up and teach them these skills.

What were the creative influences on you at the time?

I remember seeing a show by Gwyn Hanssen Pigott at the British Craft Centre that just blew me away. All the pieces were wood fired bowls, every single one! Meanwhile we, the students at the Central, were all trying to outdo each other with the most weird and wonderful, conceptually driven ceramic creations. I was so taken aback by Gwyn’s exhibition and by the idea that a gallery full of similarly shaped bowls could be so awe-inspiring. 

Why have you continued to work in ceramics?

I had a major solo show here in Melbourne, Australia recently titled, War Spoils. It took the form of an installation and was an anti-war statement. I am planning on returning to Japan in 2017 to make and install a work in one of the buildings, a former bank, that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Maintaining a belief that art, ceramics in particular, can somehow influence or change the way we live and relate to the world we live in may sound like a hopeless cause, but someone has to do it.