Relating to Clay - Tuning in to the Workings of the Aesthetic Dimension in Ceramic Practice

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Through sustained practice, creative practitioners begin to develop a relationship with the material with which they work. This kind of relating to the material accompanies aesthetic qualities that are not only perceived as belonging to the material but also recognised within the body, creating a connection between the practitioner and the material. This research emphasises the role of aesthetic qualities in creating these connections and concentrates on this level of ceramic practice, where the body's role is central in feeling, sensing and extending towards the material world. This research has developed in two phases; the research material was firstly gathered through practice-led research focusing on the subjective experience in ceramic practice, and then, secondly, the research has continued to develop from the topics identified during the first phase within a collaborative approach to conducting research. The first phase of the research included studio work, an artist residency period and a workshop. The second research phase discussed and developed the identified research topics within and through workshops in collaboration with other professional practitioners. The particular interest is in the subtle body that implies understanding a more nuanced level in material work. Here, the bodily perspective in creative practice is examined, and the discussed practice is focused on attuning to feeling and experiencing the material bringing our body's sensuous understanding to the forefront. The aim is to understand how creative practitioners begin to tune in with the aesthetics of materials and their processes within making. The research focus is framed through three directions on the body: the experiencing body, the sentient body and the performing body. The common perception of creative practice is through its outcomes; however, a practitioner's creativity that sustains a material practice is built through experiences understood in the body. What is opened up through this research is the experiential and performative dimension of creative acts in the context of ceramics. One of the main outcomes of this research is the Subtle Ground method that offers an aesthetic-driven direction in making whereby the creative practitioner's attention is directed towards the subtle body and the experiential dimension in making.This research argues that focusing on aesthetic qualities and giving attention to embodied connections can create the basis for a meaningful material relationship in the context of creative practices. Relating to material is a process that engages the body to perform and experience the felt material qualities. These felt and performed qualities in creative material work can also have therapeutic possibilities and thus widen the implications of the research results.
Translated title of the contributionRelating to Clay - Tuning in to the Workings of the Aesthetic Dimension in Ceramic Practice
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Mäkelä, Maarit, Supervising Professor
  • Mäkelä, Maarit, Thesis Advisor
  • Hansen, Flemming Tvede, Thesis Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0911-5
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0912-2
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • artistic research
  • aesthetic experience
  • embodied practice
  • ceramics
  • dwelling in making


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  • Relating to Clay (lectio)

    Falin, P., 31 Oct 2022

    Research output: Artistic and non-textual formFilmSolo art productionpeer-review

    Open Access

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