Stephen Dixon: Maiolica and Migration at Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead

Part of our Exhibitions guide

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Stephen Dixon: Maiolica and Migration

Stephen Dixon: Maiolica and Migration, 1 April 2021–18 June 2022, free entry - Visit now

This month, Williamson Art Gallery presents Stephen Dixon: Maiolica and Migration, an exhibition of award-winning work by the acclaimed ceramic artist.

The display focuses on forced migration and displacement, particularly the catastrophic crossings of refugees via the English Channel and Mediterranean Sea. Central to the show is the award-winning piece Transient: The Ship of Dreams and Nightmares, 2021. In the piece, made in ceramic, everyday objects like a child’s rocking horse or a traffic cone are combined with those life jackets and paddles, which we immediately associate with news reports about the plight of refugees on their treacherous journeys. The work seamlessly collages the disparate elements by recreating them in white tin-glazed pottery, while they float above ground on orange string as if drifting in water.

Interestingly, the artist is using the medium of ceramics as both the literal material and a metaphor for the message. It draws on the connection between the historical migration of white tin-glazed pottery originally from North Africa all the way to Spain and Italy, which is where the Maiolica pottery came to be, as well as: France with Faience; Holland which is home to Delftware; and the UK with English Delftware. Dixon draws parallels between the historical movement of the pottery and the movement of refugees and asylum seekers today.

Stephen Dixon is currently a professor of of Contemporary Crafts at the Manchester School of Art. The artist’s politically engaged art practice has in the past focused on the dislocation of cultural artefacts, sustainability and contemporary slavery. His work features in many public and private collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the British Council, the Crafts Council, and the Royal Museum of Scotland.

Maiolica and Migration is part of a trio of displays of Dixon’s work around Merseyside, with the other two shows taking place in the Walker Art Gallery and the Bluecoat Display Centre.

Stephen Dixon: Maiolica and Migration

1 April 2021–18 June 2022
Free entry

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