Professor Stephen Dixon MA(RCA)
Professorial Research Fellow
Stephen Dixon is Professor of Contemporary Crafts at Manchester School of Art, investigating contemporary narratives in ceramics. Specific research interests include the British satirical tradition (in both printmaking and ceramics), commemorative wares and ‘pop’ culture, and the development of socio-political narratives in contemporary ceramics. He is also Crafts Research Group Leader.
His work features in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Arts & Design, New York, the British Council, the Crafts Council, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Museum of Scotland, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.
Dixon studied Fine Art at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Ceramics at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1986. Early exhibitions in London with Contemporary Applied Arts and the Crafts Council established a reputation for ceramics with a biting political and social satire. Anatol Orient introduced Dixon’s figurative vessels to the U.S.A. in the early nineties, resulting in solo exhibitions at Pro-Art, St. Louis (1993) Garth Clark Gallery, New York (1995) and Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York (1998). Dixon's politically engaged ceramic practice was comprehensively surveyed in a major solo exhibition ‘The Sleep of Reason’, a twenty-year retrospective showcased at Manchester Art Gallery in 2005 and touring the U.K. from March to October of that year.
In 2006 Dixon travelled to Australia to investigate the effects of dislocation on the creation of cultural artefacts, for 'Beyond the Seas', an AHRC funded practice-led research project. This experience provoked a shift away from the ceramic vessel as a vehicle for narrative, towards intervention and installation works such as 'Bush Pantry' (2007), 'Monopoly' (2009) and 'Letters From Tripoli' (2011).
He was awarded the inaugural V&A ceramics studio residency in 2009, where he embarked on a new body of work exploring political portraiture. ('Restoration Series' 2011-2013).
Dixon combines his studio ceramic practice with regular forays into public and community arts;
In 2000 he received an Arts Council Year of the Artist award for ‘Asylum’, a collaborative project with Amnesty International U.K. and Kosovan refugees.
He curated the exhibition '200 Years: Slavery Now' in 2007, exploring issues of contemporary slavery in the year of the Bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.
In 2010 he took part in 'the Pol Project' in India, working alongside MIRIAD colleagues to explore issues of sustainability in Dal Ni Pol, Ahmedabad. ('Hero' 2010)
Recent public engagement projects 'Resonance','Resonate' and 'The Lost Boys' have examined commemoration and the material resonance of archives and objects.
Professor Dixon was a Trustee of the Crafts Council from 2009 to 2013, and was a member of the Art and Design sub-panel for HEFCE REF 2014.
A group exhibition, curated by Dixon for the Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool, in the year of the Bicentenary of the passing of the parliamentary bill to abolish the slave trade in the UK. Selected artists were asked to respond to the issues surrounding contemporary slavery in all its forms, both local and global, from the commercial exploitation of child labour and migrant workers in the black economy to the trafficking of sex 'workers'into Western Europe. Details…
An installation created for the Waterway exhibition space at Imperial War Museum North, Manchester. The work was made in the context of heated political debate and widespread public protest, during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq by the U. Details…
An Arts Council England Year of the Artist residency project, with Amnesty International UK, working with Kosovan refugees in Cheetham Hill, Manchester. Practical clay workshops running from September 2000 to April 2001 explored the refugees’ experiences of conflict, displacement and relocation through the production of figuratively decorated ceramic tiles and ‘pages’. Details…
A research residency at the Jam Factory craft and design studios in Adelaide, Australia, in association with the Here and There (HAT) project. 'Beyond the Seas' examined the effects of dislocation on the production of crafted artefacts, explored through creative practice and the maker's experience. Details…
'Clocking On' is the outcome of research undertaken within the Cotton Exchange project, which examined the social, cultural and historical legacies of cotton manufacture and trade in North West England and North West India. Cotton Exchange operated within the context of a larger collaborative project, Global Threads, one of the strands of the Cultural Olympiad Project Stories of the World. Details…
A research residency at THE LOFT, Mumbai, India (September 2008 and January 2009) examining the Anglo-Indian relationship in both its contemporary and historical manifestations, and exploring the persistence of memory as vested in the crafted object. Stage 1 of the project culminated in the exhibition 'Embedded Narratives' (September 18 -30 2008) which featured works on paper and ceramic, and an installation drawing made in the gallery at THE LOFT. Details…
During a research residency at the V&A in 2009/10 I was drawn repeatedly to the the museum's extensive collection of ceramic shards, attracted by their incompleteness, and the way that a viewer might re-invent and re-imagine them into a vessel or a sculpture. This idea was developed in the project 'Excavate' at the British Ceramics Biennial in 2013, which was awarded one of the BCB 'Explore' research residency awards. Details…
'Hero' a site-specific sculpture, was created for the Ahmedabad International Arts Festival 2010, in the context of the Pol Project (http://thepolproject.blogspot. Details…
‘Inventory’ is an installation of nine up-cycled porcelain plates, combining silk-screen and digitally printed ceramic transfers. The piece develops another strand of Dixon’s V&A residency research, exploring the documentary and catalogue materials found in the V&A’s historical archives, and overlaying these with Dixon’s museum drawings, taken mainly from the classical sculpture collections. Details…
'Letters from Tripoli' examined the role of text and object in the ‘reconstruction’ of histories. It questioned how confected artefacts can be combined with historical documents to construct a convincing and evocative visual narrative. Details…
Monopoly continues Dixon’s exploration of ceramics as a vehicle for contemporary political narrative, and expands the scope of this enquiry into large-scale public space. Monopoly is located in a tradition of sculptural and conceptual manipulation of industrial ‘readymade’ ceramics, pioneered by Marcel Duchamp (Fountain 1917) and explored in the contemporary practice of Marek Cecula (Porcelain Carpet 2002) and Clare Twomey (Monument 2009), and contributes an additional dimension of socio-political commentary to this enquiry. Details…
The touring exhibition 'Resonance' was developed in collaboration with the Staffordshire Museums Strategic Consortium as an artistic response to their collections of First World War artefacts, documents and archives. The exhibition featured new ceramics and installations by Stephen Dixon, with complimentary photography and film by Johnny Magee. Details…
Resonate was the experimental centre-piece of a multi-media installation at the British Ceramics Biennial 2015, bringing together clay, ceramics, sound and public participation, to commemorate the contribution of the soldiers of North Staffordshire in the Great War of 1914-1918. The monumental clay head was constructed using two tons of Staffordshire Etruria Marl clay, and was loosely based on the head of the winged victory (Nike) figure from the Inter-Allied Victory Medal of 1919, designed by William McMillan R. Details…
The Restoration Series developed from research undertaken during a six month residency in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s ceramics studio (September 2009 to March 2010). Taking the form of a related group of ceramic portrait heads, Restoration Series, adopts the convention of the commemorative portrait bust, to explore issues of fundamental human rights (particularly freedom of expression). Details…
A solo exhibition of narrative ceramics at Contemporary Applied Arts, London, 17 September to 30 October 2004. This body of work reflects upon the political uncertainties of our times, and invites the questioning of current policies of Western governments, and our assumptions of a moral and cultural superiority. Details…
A public art project, commissioned by AMOCA (the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, California) for the 'Friendship Forged in Fire: British Ceramics in America' exhibition. The work takes the form of the SS Argentina, a converted troop carrier, which took the first shipment of G. Details…
A major retrospective exhibition of Dixon’s political ceramics, ‘The Sleep of Reason’ provides a (subversive) chronological survey of two decades of controversial political events. Beginning in 1995, at the zenith of Thatcherism, the exhibition charts the development of a personal narrative for figurative ceramics; the heavily modelled box-forms of the early years (culminating in ‘The Levantine Chess Set’ of 1994) giving way more recently to the softer forms and richly printed surfaces of the large ‘oil-can’ vessels (a metaphor for global power-politics). Details…
The Lost Boys project was a community engagement project examining the issue of underage soldiers in World War 1, funded by the AHRC/HLF, in conjunction with the 'Voices of War and Peace' public engagement centre. At the outbreak of World War 1, the legal age limit for armed service overseas in the British Army was 19 years, yet by the end of the war an estimated 250,000 underage soldiers between the ages of 14 and 18 had seen active service. Details…
Stephen Dixon is a member of:
A selection of recent research outputs.
Dixon, S. Scott, P. Brennand-Wood, M. Brownsword, N. Hodes, C. McNicholl, C. Slotte, C. Stofer, H. Sormin, L. Clarke, D. Nordli, I. de Vries, B., 2015. RE- reanimate, repair, meld and mend., Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool, October 9 to November 14.
Dixon, S. Magee, J, 2015. Resonance: reflections on the Great War through artworks inspired by Staffordshire collections., Museum of Cannock Chase., March 9 to April 26, 2015.
Dixon, S. Magee, J., 2015. Resonate, British Ceramics Biennial, September 26 to November 8, 2015.
Dixon, S. Magee, J. Welsh, A., 2015. The Lost Boys: Remembering the Boy Soldiers of the First World War., Holden Gallery, Manchester, November 5 to 11, 2015.
Dixon, S., 2014. Hidden Agenda - Socially Conscious Craft, Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed, 22 March - 1 June 2014..
Dixon, S., 2014. Magic Mud: Masterworks in Clay, Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin, USA., 2 February - 4 May 2014.
Dixon, S., 2014. Re: Collection, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, 1 April - 7 Septembe 2014.
Dixon, S., 2014. Sculptural Forms: A Century of Experiment, Manchester Art Gallery, 15 February - 7 September 2014.
Dixon, S., 2013. Cotton Exchange, Rajnagar Mill, Ahmedabad, India, 18 to 21 April 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. Excavate, British Ceramics Biennial, Stoke-on-Trent, 28 September - 10 November 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. Friendship Forged in Fire: British Ceramics in America, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, California, 9 February to 5 May 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. Janus, Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin, 18 January - 16 February 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. Print and Clay, ANCA Gallery, Canberra, Australia., 18-28 september 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. Restoration Series, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 28 March 2013 to 27 March 2014.
Dixon, S., 2013. Stories in the Making, Yorkshire Artspace, Sheffield, 31 January - 28 March 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. Subversive Design, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, 12 October 2013 - 9 March 2014.
Dixon, S., 2013. Top 10 at 10: Favorites from RAM's Collection., Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin, USA., 28 May - 6 October 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. Two of a Kind: Celebrating the Potters Art, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, 22 October 2013 - 22 March 2014.
Dixon, S., 2012. Ceramics and Print in International Contemporary Ceramic Art, Ann Linnemann Studio Gallery, Copenhagen, October 29 to November 24 2012.
Dixon, S., 2012. COLLECT 2012, Saatchi Gallery, London, 10-14 May 2012.
Mitchison, L. Dixon, Stephen, Kettle, Alice, Welsh, Alison, Zapp, Andrea, 2012. Global Threads: The cotton Exchange Project, Queens Street Mill, Burnley, Lancashire, May - August 2012.
Welsh A. Dixon S, 2012. Summer Exhibition, Contemporary Applied Arts, 27 July to 31 August 2013.
Dixon, S., 2012. Tradition: Historic and Modern Pots, Gallery Oldham, 6 October 2012 - 11 May 2013.
Dixon, S., 2011. British Ceramics Biennial Award exhibition, Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, 30 September to 11 December 2011.
Dixon, S., 2011. COLLECT, Saatchi Gallery, London, 5 to 9 May 2011.
Broadhead, M., Dixon, S., Potter, L., Wilson, E., 2011. Memoranda, Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, 26 july to 1 October 2011.
Webb, J., 2011. Pairings, MMU Special Collections, Otter Gallery Chichester, Fairfield Mill, Cumbria, September 2010 -.
Dixon, S. and 98 British ceramic artists., 2010. Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection, Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, 1 October 2010 to 13 March 2011.
Dixon, S. and 26 artists, including Hatoum, M., Atkinson, T.,Moore, H., Piper, J., Sandle, M., Head, T., 2010. Fall Out; War and Conflict in the British Council Collection, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 26 March to 30 May 2010.
Clare, C., Dixon, S., Lewis, P., Scott, P., Summers, E., 2010. Fired Up: Ceramics and Meaning, Gallery Oldham, 17 July to 14 November 2010.
Welsh A, 2009. Armchair Politico. The Schiffli Project, Bury St Edmonds Art Gallery, 2009.
Dixon, S., Bugg, R., 2008. Brit by Brit: Contemporary British Ceramics, Robert Morris University Gallery, Pittsburgh, USA., 19 March to 19 April.
Dixon, S., 2008. Embedded Narratives, THE LOFT, Mumbai, India, 18 to 30 September 2008.
Dixon, S., Welsh, A., 2008. Mechanical Drawing: the schiffli project, The Hub, Sleaford., 8 March to 27 April.
Dixon, S., Webb, J., 2008. Meeting in the Middle, Alsager Arts Centre, 1 to 29 March.
Dixon, S., 2008. Permanently MAD: revealing the collection, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA., 27 Sept 08 to 15 Feb 09.
Dixon, S., 2008. You'll Never Walk Alone., National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland., 8 March to 27 April.
Dixon, S., 2007. '200 Years: Slavery Now', Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool., 19 October to 17 November.
Dixon, S., 2007. The Diane and Sandy Besser Collection: A Gift to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco., The de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA., 27 October 2007 to 13 January 2008.
Dixon, S., 2007. THE HAT PROJECT: Here and There., The British Council, New Delhi, India., 28 March to 24 April..
Dixon, S., 2006. Ceramique Contemporaine Biennale Internationale., Musee Magnelli, Vallauris, France., 1 July to 20 November 2006.
Kettle, A., 2006. SOFA with Bluecoat Display centre, Chicago, USA, 10 - 12 November 2006.
Dixon, S., Isupov, S. and Scott, P., 2006. Surface Tension, The Jam Factory, Adelaide, Australia., 25 March to 29 May.
Dixon, S., 2005. The Sleep of Reason, Manchester Art Gallery, 5 March to 30 May 2005.
Dixon, S., 2004. 21 Countries, Imperial War Museum North, 21 February 2004 to 31 May 2004.
Dixon, S., 2004. British Ceramic Masterworks, Ceramics Research Center, Arizona State University Art Museum, 25 June 2004 to 25 September 2004.
Dixon, S., 2004. Go Figure, Clay Gallery, Venice, California, September 2004.
Dixon, S., 2004. Savage Indignation, Contemporary Applied Arts, London, 17 September 2004 to 30 October 2004.
Dixon, S., Sashida, T., 2003. 03 Ceramics Exhibition, Gallery Ten, Daimaru, Tokyo, 20 october 2003 to 26 October 2003.
Dixon, S., 2003. Shared Passion, Ceramic Research Center, Arizona State University Art Museum., 8 February 2003 to 18 May 2003.
Dixon, S., 2003. Tea, Anyone?, Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin, U.S.A., 14 September 2003 to 18 January 2004.
Dixon, S., 2003. Tell Tale: Narratives in contemporary craft, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, 19 September 2003 to 2 November 2003.
Dixon, S., 2002. 16/16, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 4 May 2002 to 5 June 2002.
Dixon, S., 2002. Containing Ceramics: Highlights from the British Crafts Council Collection, SOFA, Navy Pier, Chicago, 24 October to 27 October.
Dixon, S., 2001. British Studio Ceramics: Works from the New Millenium, Philadelphia Clay Studio, U.S.A., 1 June 2001 to 24 June 2001.
Dixon, S., 2001. Engelsk keramik, Galleri Norby, Copenhagen., 28 April 2001 to 12 may 2001.
Dixon, S., 2001. Figurative Ceramics, Crafts Council at the V & A, 20 September 2001 to 4 November 2001.
Dixon, S., 2001. Home Sweet Home, Kulturhuset, Stockholm (and touring), 23rd February 2001 to 15 April 2001.
Dixon, S., 2012. 'Clocking On', Site specific installation piece., Queen Street Mill, Burnley, Lancashire., May - August 2012.
Dixon, S., 2012. 'Restoration 2 (Lui Xiaobo)', Ceramic portrait bust., COLLECT 2012, Saatchi Gallery, London., 11-14 may 2012.
Dixon, S., 2011. 'Letters From Tripoli.', Archival cabinet containing fragments of a fictionalised narrative., Crafts Study Centre, UCA, Farnham., 26 July to 1 October 2011..
Dixon, S., 2011. 'Restoration (Aung San Suu Kyi)', Ceramic portrait head., COLLECT 2011, Saatchi Gallery, London., 6-9 May 2011..
Dixon, S., 2010. 'Hero.', Indian bicycle with floral ceramic interventions., Ahmedabad International Arts Festival., 29-31 October 2010..
Dixon, S., 2009. 'Monopoly', Ceramic battleship sculpture, Gladstone Pottery Museum, as part of the British Ceramics Biennial 2009., 3 October to 13 December 2009..
Dixon, S., 2011. 'Stephen Dixon'. In Peters, T. and West, J. (eds.) Memoranda, 36-43, Luminous Books, London..
Dixon, S and 37 international ceramic artists, 2009. 'Stephen Dixon'. In Hemachandra, R., Ostermann, M. (eds.) Masters: Earthenware, 38 chapters, with artists contributions., 282-289, Lark Books, U.S.A..
Dixon, S., 2014. 'Fragments and Narratives: reflections on a residency at the V&A.', Ceramics in the Expanded Field: behind the scenes at the museum., www.ceramics-in-the-expanded-field.com.
Lloyd-Jones, T., 2013. 'Peace Talks', CRAFTS, No 242, May/June 2013, 42-45.
Mitchell, L., 2012. 'Material Memory', Ceramic Review, issue 257, 42-47.
Theophilus, J., 2009. 'Guerrilla Ceramics', Art and Architecture Journal, issue 68.
Amadei, G.L., 2009. 'Produce', Blueprint, issue 284, 73-78.
Dixon, S., 2005. 'Narrativ Keramikk', Kunsthandverk, Issue 2, 2005, No. 96, 22-25.
Dixon, S., 2005. 'The Sleep of Reason', Ceramics: Art and Perception, Issue 59 March 2005, 70-73.
Dixon, S., 2004. 'Ceramics of Substance', Ceramics in Society, Issue 57 2004 Series, 4-5.
Dixon, S., 2013. 'Ceramics and Political Narrative.', Aberystwyth International Ceramics Festival, Aberystwyth University, 28-30 June 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. 'Ceramics, Print and Narrative', 2nd Print and Clay Symposium, Australian National University, Canberra., 7-8 September 2013.
Dixon, S., 2013. 'Manchesters United: Transnational Dialogues in Contemporary Crafts', 2nd CARPE Conference, M.M.U., 4-6 November 2013, in CARPE website.
Dixon, S., 2013. 'The Ceramic Chimera', Between Studio and Factory, British ceramics Biennial, Spode factory site, Stoke-on-Trent, 17-18 October 2013.
Dixon, S., 2012. 'Ceramics, Print and Narrative.', Ceramics and Print conference., Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Centre, Denmark., 26-27 October 2012..
Dixon, S., 2012. 'Crafting the Contemporary', The Disruptive Difference: Transnational Craft Dialogues, School of Museum Studies, Leicester University, 17 February 2012.
Dixon, S., 2012. 'Differing approaches to artistic research', Agenda conference, KHIO (Oslo National Academy of the Arts), 2 November 2012.
Dixon, S., 2012. 'Why Clay?', Ceramics and Sculpture: Different Disciplines and Shared Concerns, National Museum Wales, Cardiff, 5 July 2012, in Interpreting Ceramics, online journal, issue 14.
O'Neill, C. J., Dixon, Stephen, 2010. 'collaboration within manchester school of art', collaboration - research in ceramics now, University of Westminster, 23rd June 2010.
Dixon, S., 2010. 'The Artist as Exhibit', Ceramics on Show: Public and Private Displays., V&A London., 24 to 25 September 2010..
Dixon, S., 2009. 'Guerrilla Ceramics: the Monopoly project', Ceramic City - Design for Public Space, Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, 9-10 October 2009.
Dixon, S., Sokolowski, T., Bugg, R. and Nichols, S., 2008. 'Ceramics - Breaking the Mold?', CONFLUENCE: Innovation, Community, Environment, the 42nd Annual Conference of NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts), David L. Lawrence Conference Centre, Pittsburgh, PA, USA., March 19 to march 22., in NCECA website: www.nceca.net.
Dixon, S., 2007. '200 Years: Slavery Now', The Gardner-Medwin Lecture, Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool, 15 November.
Dixon, S., 2007. 'Beyond the Seas', HAT project conference, Sanskriti, New Delhi, India, 25 to 30 March, in HAT website www.hat.mmu.ac.uk.
Dixon, S., 2004. 'Reflections on Beauty: polarities,dualities, contexts and perspectives', Thoughts on Beauty, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, 25 november 2004 to 27 November 2004, in The Impossible Fridge, Thoughts on Beauty, Craft and Art.
Dixon, S., 2003. 'Mind and Material: Contemporary British Ceramics', The Current Situation of the Craft Arts in Japan and Britain, The Japan Foundation, Kyoto, 4 April 2003.
Dixon, S., 2010. 'Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection', Work featured in the exhibition publication (book) Annie Carlano (ed.) Yale University Press.
Dixon, S., Buchler, P., 2001. 'But is it Craft?', An exhibition questioning the boundaries and public perception of 'craft', curated by Stephen Dixon and Pavel Buchler..
Dixon, S., 2001. 'Form and Transfer', An exhibition of contemporary printed ceramics, curated by Stephen Dixon..
Dixon, S., 2001. 'The Fired Print: Contemporary Approaches to Printed Studio Ceramics', An educational slide set with accompanying text, published by Manchester Metropolitan university, 2001 (ISBN 1861320787).