EXPOSED: Heads, Busts & Nudes

EXPOSED: Heads, Busts & Nudes group show of ceramic figural sculpture by masters 1965–present originally presented at 1315 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA, from June 18 to September 5, 2016...

As one of the UK’s foremost ceramicists Claire Curneen’s work is distinct for its figuration. She is also a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Ceramic Studies, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Spanning nearly 20 years as a practicing artist, Curneen’s works, ranging from small scale porcelain pieces to a large terracotta figure installed on the exterior of a Guildhall, explore grand themes about the body and the human condition.

Notable for her application of hand-building, pinching and applying clay in patches that registers the artist’s hand and flesh in the surface of the clay, Curneen produces highly visceral works, which tap into of our deepest desires, fears and mysteries. Referencing Roman Catholic imagery and ideology and early Italian Renaissance paintings such as Piero Della Francesca’s ‘Baptism of Christ’, these figures bear bold narratives of saints, martyrs and rites of passage punctuated by often delicate yet dramatic totems to death, re-birth and the sublime.

In 2011 Curneen received one of the Arts Council of Wales’s most prestigious accolades, a Creative Wales Ambassador Award, and has embarked upon a new body of work inspired by research she will be conducting into the National Museum of Ireland’s collections. Her award also includes use of a drawing studio at The Mission Gallery, Swansea.

Curneen’s work can be seen in over 20 public collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff; Taipei Ceramics Museum, Taiwan and the Crafts Council, London.

Videos about the artist talking about her work can be seen on her website here.


‘Guardian’ 2012, Porcelain, cobalt, glaze, gold lustre

The title for this piece extends my ongoing interest into religious iconography of Italian Renaissance Painting, in particular ‘Tobias and the Angel’ 1470-1475 by Verrocchio. The story explains how the young Tobias, sets out on a long journey to recover a debt for his blind father,  he meets another traveller, the Archangel Rapheal, who guides him and protects him. Guardian explores some of these themes focusing on the intimacy of the relationship.  The figure is printed with rich cobalt blue, like chinese blue and white porcelain, which communicates the historical imprint in which a ceramic object can hold,  charged with a sense of its own history.  Like ‘Tobias and the Angel’ it is witness to the changing world. This figure stands looking forward, it holds back a part of itself in order to act as a guardian, a protector, potent and rich in meaning.

Born: 1968, Ireland



University of Wales Institute Cardiff, Master’s Degree in Ceramics

Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork, Ireland, Diploma in Art and Design

University of Ulster, Belfast, Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Arts


Upcoming, Current & Recent Exhibitions

EXPOSED: Heads, Busts, Nudes, Ferrin Contemporary, North Adams, MA
Bernadaud: My Blue China, Ariana Museum, Geneva, Switzerland
To This I Put My Name, Hans Peter Dähler, Solothurn, Switzerland
To This I Put My Name, Ruthin Craft Center, Ruthin, Denbighshire, Wales and Harley Gallery, Notinghamshire, England
New Blue and White, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, USA

Public Collections

Ulster Museum, Belfast

Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland

Crafts Council, London

Limerick City Art Gallery, Limerick, Ireland

National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff, UK

Sara and David Lieberman Collection, Arizona State University, USA.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Shipely Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Museums, Gateshead, UK

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK

Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece

Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Wales, UK

Cleveland Crafts Centre, Middlesbrough, UK

Icheon World Ceramic Centre, Korea

National Museum of Scotland

Oldham Museum, Manchester, UK

York Museum, England, UK

Taipei Ceramics Museum, Taiwan

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK

Mint Museum, Charlotte, Carolina, USA

Kennedy Museum of Art, USA


Past Exhibitions


Never Never, Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Reflection, Galerie Kunstforum Solothurn, Switzerland

New World: Timeless Vision,  IAC exhibition, New Mexico Museum of Art, USA


Beaux Arts, Bath (solo)

Placement, Ceramic Connections Wales/Scotland, Oriel Davies, Mid Wales

Lost Certainty, Claire Curneen and Alice Kettle, CAA, London

3×2: The Shed, Galway, Ireland


Pretty young Things, Lacoste Gallery, Boston, USA

Claire Curneen and Olivia Chargue, Le Don du Fel, France

Passage, Craft in the Bay, Cardiff, Wales

Parings, a collaboration with textile designer Alison Welsh, MMU Manchester

Contemporary British Studio Ceramics, The Grainer Collection, Mint Museum, Charlotte, USA


British Ceramics,  Bavarian Crafts Council, Germany

Otherworldly Messages, Galerie Marianne Heller, Germany

Collect, Saatchi Galleries, CAA London


Myths and Legends, Contemporary Applied Arts, London

Claire Curneen, Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales (solo, catalogue)


Secondary Relics, Blackswan Gallery, Frome, England

Menschenbild, Galerie Kunstforum, Solothurn, Switzerland


Collect at the V&A, Ruthin Craft Centre.

One Piece one Artist, Galerie Marianne Heller, Germany

Narratives Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea.

Collecting Contemporary Ceramics, Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales

The Human Condition, the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

Figurative Ceramics, Cervini Haas Gallery, Scottsdale, USA


Showcase at Manchester Art Gallery (DVD,catalogue and slide set)

The  International Art & Design Fair, New York, represented by Adrian Sassoon


Succour- Claire Curneen, The Gallery, Ruthin Craft Centre (solo, catalogue)

Faith, Nottingham Castle Museum (catalogue)

Collect at the V&A, represented by CAA London

SOFA Chicago, represented by CLAY, LA


Flower Power, Norfolk Museum and Archaeology Service and Sheffield     Galleries and Museum Trust (catalogue)

Telltale, Narratives in Contemporary Craft, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead (catalogue)

Augenblicken, Kunstforum Kirchberg, Switzerland


Claire Curneen and Heather Belcher, Contemporary Applied Arts, London

SOFA Chicago, USA


Figurative Ceramics, Crafts Council shop at The V&A, London


Made at the Clay Studio, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA

Figurative Ceramics, Nancy Margolis Gallery, NewYork.


New Masters Old Masters, Oxford Gallery, Oxford.

Firing Imagination, British Council Exhibition, Sao Paulo (catalogue)


Ceramic Series/Claire Curneen, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, (catalogue)


New Work, Claire Curneen, Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales (solo, catalogue)


Philip Eglin and Claire Curneen, Contemporary Applied Arts, London


Awards and Competitions


Creative Wales Ambassador Award.  ‘The Museum Object as a point of Reference’.


Taiwan International Ceramics Biennale Competition, Taipei Ceramic Museum.


Creative Wales Award, Arts Council of Wales

Selected for 3rd World Ceramic Biennale, Korea International Competition


Selected for 1st European Ceramics Competition, Greece.


Shortlist for the Arts Foundation Award for Ceramics, U.K.


National Eisteddfod of Wales, Gold Medal in Craft & Design


Le Prix de I’AMN, Porcelain Triennale, Nyon

Selected for the 52nd International Competition for Contemporary Ceramic Art,  Faenza, Italy


Ceramics Monthly Magazine, Winner of the Sculpture category


Crafts Council Setting up grant


Professional Memberships

Selected Makers slide index, Crafts Council, London

Contemporary Applied Arts

International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva



Ceramics Arts and Perception, review of “Pretty Young Things”, Lacoste Gallery, Massachusetts by Christine Temin, 2011

Ceramics Arts and Perception, article by Alex McErlain, Issue 62, 2005/2006

New Ceramics, Issue 5, 2005, profile on Claire Curneen by Amanda Fielding (German & English)

Keramik Magazin, Issue 4, 2003, “Contemplation”, by Ian Wilson

Kerameiki Techni, Issue 42, 2002, “The Role of Narrative in Claire Curneen’s Ceramics” by Natasha Mayo.

Ceramic Review, Issue 195, 2002, “A Melancholy Beauty”, by Nicolas Lees

Ceramics Art and Perception, Issue 38 1999, “Searching for Answers”, by Sarah James

Ceramic Monthly, International Competition, 1999




Contemporary British Studio Ceramics, Yale Unversity Press, New Haven and London with the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, North Carolina

‘Pairings’, Monologues & Dialogues, MMU.

Fanning, Micheal. Ghost Trawler, a poetry book.  The publication is a collaboration between artists and the poet.  Published by Sommerville Press, Ireland.


Whiting, David. Modern British Studio Ceramics and their Studios, photography Jay Goldmark.

Cooper, Emmanuel. ‘Contemporary Ceramics’ A Global Survey of Trends and Traditions, Thames and Hudson,

Breaking the Mould, Black Dog Publishing, UK

Masters in Porcelain, Lark Books, USA

Schwartz, Judith. Confrontational Ceramics, USA

Ming, Bai. World Famous Ceramic Artist Studios, (Volume 1, Europe)


500 Figures in Clay, Lark Books, USA


Flynn, Michael. Ceramic Figures. A&C Black Ltd.

Waller, Jane. The Human Form in Clay, Crowood Press Ltd.


Blandino, Betty. The Figure in Fired Clay, A&C Black Ltd.




The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, USA

Crawford Arts Centre, St.Andrews, Scotland, funded by Artworks Wales.


Television and Radio

‘Kaleidoscope’  BBC Radio 4, 1997, review of Ruthin exhibition by Emanuel Cooper

‘The Art’.   BBC 2, short film of artist at work.



Senior Lecturer, Centre for Ceramic Studies, Cardiff Metropolitian University