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Life After UAL: Ceramicist Kyle Ramsey

Written by Gavin Freeborn
Published date 18 December 2018

In September 2019, Chelsea is launching our new BA Product and Furniture Design course, which has evolved from the BA 3D Design course at Camberwell College of Arts to join our community of undergraduate design courses alongside BA Graphic Design Communication, BA Interior Design and BA Textile Design.

Read on to hear from 2018 BA 3D Design alumnus Kyle Ramsay, originally from Hayle, Cornwall and currently living in South East London, as he shares his experience of studying on the course and what he has been working on since graduating.

What have you been working on since graduating?

“I just came back from Beijing and Jingdezhen in China, working on a cultural exchange with the British Ceramic Biennial and Honav a major Olympics merchandise licensee, alongside other graduate designers from the UK. Since graduating I have been producing ceramics from a studio in Parade Mews, South London and creating homeware for the December Renegade Craft Fair at Truman Brewery in East London. I’ve also got a collaboration in the works with an artist from Bath which will be exhibited next year.”

How has your practice developed since graduating?

“My practice has developed from how I perceived myself as a visual artist to now making products as a designer maker. Taking inspiration from traditional processes often associated with craft and seeing how I can apply a modern aesthetic.”

Ceramic jug holding a large leaf
Homeware ceramic design by Kyle Ramsey

Have you been involved in any residencies, exhibitions or interesting projects since graduating?

“I have just returned from The British Ceramic Biennial – Honav Cultural Exchange. I was out in Beijing for three weeks designing ceramics, taking inspiration from Chinese philosophy and architecture. I was then hosted in a studio in Jingdezhen creating the work I had been designing. This trip has pushed me to approach product design in a more typical design setting using methods such as CAD to realise my designs, whereas my usual process involves a lot more material experimentation with looser control of what the final outcome will look like. The whole experience was invaluable and allowed me to see into a new culture I’d never been exposed to before.”

What projects have you got coming up?

“I’m currently working on a collaboration with an artist from the same part of Cornwall as me who studied in Bath. This collaboration is something we’re continuing from earlier this year – we produced work together for my summer show which involved creating vases with his artwork engraved into the surface. However, now we want to push it further into becoming a more contemporary object.”

How did your time at UAL push your practice? Did it challenge your ways in thinking in anyway?

“I felt that UAL pushed me in a way which gave me the confidence to be more experimental with my approach to materials and utilise historical connotations of techniques and the materials themselves to produce an interesting narrative for an object.”

An exhibition space full of ceramics
Image from Kyle’s recent trip to China as part of the British Ceramics Biennal

What was unique about studying at UAL?

“The access to multiple facilities allowed me to realise my designs and not limit me to one way of working.”

What was the most valuable thing you learned on your course?

“My approach to making is credited to the freedom of which was given to us by the structure of the course, along with access to different techniques showed to us by the talented technicians, such as Taslim Martin, who is the ceramic technician at Camberwell, and Jonathan Armistead, head technician, who are both excellent at slip casting.

In what ways did the summer shows enhance your practice?

“It was the first platform where I professionally exhibited my work to a wide and varied audience. Before, people who came to see my work knew what to expect as they either followed me on social media or knew me through a personal connection. The summer shows bring different eyes and fresh feedback that I don’t think you’d get in any other environment.”

What advice would you give to our graduating students?

“It may be challenging at times. Try and keep the momentum going after you graduate, find a space to continue making your work and keep the workflow going. You’ll have to make some sacrifices, however I’m sure it’ll pay off.”

Watch Kyle’s interview with the British Ceramics Biennial

See more of Kyle’s work on his website and Instagram

Find out more about BA Product & Furniture Design at Chelsea College of Arts