Designer, maker and trained researcher, Dr Katie Bunnell is a creative practitioner who combines digital and traditional processes in the production of ceramic art and design. Katie graduated with a first class degree in 3D Design (Ceramics) from Bristol Poly in 1989, and completed an MA in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art, London in 1993 where she was a Darwin Scholar.
As a Research Assistant at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen she was awarded a doctorate for her practice based research thesis, The Integration of New Technologies in to Ceramic Designer-Maker Practice. Katie worked as Research Fellow in the Centre for Research in Art and Design at Grays until she took on the role of course leader for 3D Design for Sustainability at Falmouth University, Cornwall in 1999. In 2000 she became Reader in Design and in 2003 established Autonomatic, an award winning design research collective exploring relationships between craft making and digital technologies. Until 2015 she was Associate Professor of Design in the Academy of Innovation and Research at Falmouth where she worked on AHRC funded research projects, supervised PhD students and delivered All Makers Now, an international conference on the role of craft in 21st century culture.
Now based in a studio at Grays Wharf in Penryn, Katie is involved in local, national and international ceramic initiatives. With Rosanna Martin, she established Brickfield, a community brickworks based in a disused china clay pit in St Austell that aims to connect people with the material beneath their feet, developing their skills, confidence and a sense of place. As a Whitegold Curator she has been responsible for producing the Whitegold International Ceramics Prize which actively seeks out and celebrates artists and artist’s collectives who work in and with community. Whitegold is part of the Austell Project a broader regeneration scheme for Cornwall’s clay country. Katie enjoys working collaboratively with people from a wide range of disciplines, promoting creative dialogue and exchange through participatory projects as well as making her own work.
“I really love working directly and intuitively with clay. I want to be immersed in shaping and forming in a conversation with its changing nature. In this process I am seeking ‘flow’: a state in which learned skills are challenged through creative risk taking, where time passes unnoticed and a satisfying state of deep absorption and a degree of inner peace can be achieved.
Working with clay, stuff of the earth, and heating it to phenomenally high temperatures in a kiln is provocative in a world of global warming: it is impossible to ignore the fact that the transformation of soft clay into hard ceramic takes huge amounts of energy. This material transformation is everywhere and unseen in everyday life, but it deserves our full attention. The process of making ceramics brings it into view.
In a world of global disasters, constant digital interruption, the sheer complexity of modern life, achieving a ‘flow state’ seems ever more important and simultaneously illusive. Practice is necessary!”