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New Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) at York Art Gallery

We’re pleased to share this news for our Ceramic Art York partners at York Art Gallery and York Museums Trust:

New Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) at York Art Gallery

A new national centre dedicated to exhibiting, researching and promoting ceramic art will open in York in summer 2015.

The Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) will showcase works from York Museums Trust’s world class collections of ceramics, including more than 5,000 examples of British Studio Ceramics, the largest collection in the world.

New works and installations by contemporary artists will be commissioned as well as research by leading academics.

CoCA will also act as a ceramics hub – promoting a wider programme of exhibitions, lectures, learning opportunities and public events.

An online presence will showcase the collections to a global audience and also promote other key ceramic events and exhibitions around the country.

The centre is being created as part of the £8 million development of York Art Gallery.

Dr Janet Barnes, CBE, chief executive of York Museums Trust, said: “York has one of the finest collections of ceramics in the country, including works by some of the most respected and admired studio ceramicists. CoCA will become a home for these collections, showcasing these fantastic works of art through a changing programme of exhibitions and events.

“It is our ambition for CoCA to become a leading international authority on modern and contemporary British studio ceramics, encouraging new knowledge and research to promote this aspect of modern art.”

New spaces to showcase outstanding collections

CoCA will be established in two new spaces within York Art Gallery – a mezzanine gallery in the original Victorian roof void and a newly built first floor South Gallery. Together these will make up 450m squared of exhibition space which will be used to display almost two thousand works, including star pieces by Bernard Leach, William Staite Murray, Felicity Aylieff, Pablo Picasso, Hans Coper and Kate Malone.

Many of these will be drawn from the collections of Milner – White, W.A. Ismay, Henry Rothschild and Anthony Shaw, which together make up CoCA’s collection of British Studio Ceramics. Combined, this collection has more than 5,000 works with examples from throughout the twentieth century right up to the present day.

CoCA will present changing displays and exhibitions highlighting different aspects of the collections and archive, domestic style displays and a 17meter long ‘wall of pots’. The displays and special exhibitions will be supported by archives and visible open storage for much of the collections.

Learning and Research

  • CoCA will become a hub for research and formal and informal learning focussed on ceramics. This will include:
  • Working with different educational institutions, including The Anthony Shaw Trust Studentship with the University of York and an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with Manchester Metropolitan University and the British Ceramics Biennial, Stoke.
  • The growth of the recently created Contemporary Studio Ceramics Subject Specialist Network, which already has more than 130 members.
  • The Annual CoCA Lecture each Autumn which is delivered by a leading ceramist.
  • A series of conferences offering opportunities to share the latest research by leading ceramists and academics.
  • A programme of formal and informal learning events and workshops.

New virtual spaces

Information on and high resolution images of most of the British Studio Ceramics collection will soon be available online through the York Museums Trust website, allowing access to the collections from all over the world.

A new Ceramics portal will soon be established, offering links to other collections, and details of recommended exhibitions, events and research.

The £8 million development of York Art Gallery

When it reopens in summer 2015 the gallery will have more than 60 per cent extra space, including a suite of three galleries to show ambitious and high profile exhibitions and extra learning space.

The development will also include:

  • A second entrance at the rear of the gallery into a new Artists’ Garden linking to the York Museum Gardens.
  • Better visitor facilities including new cafe, shop, toilets and lift,
  • Much improved storage for the collections.

The project has been funded by numerous grants and donations, including a private legacy of £2 million and a grant from the National Lottery through Arts Council England of £3.5 million.

The date of the opening of York Art Gallery and CoCA will be confirmed in the New Year.

For more information, go to