Dr Natasha Mayo FHEA
Specialist Subject Areas
Ceramics: Studio and Theory, Creative Strategies, Film as a Pedagogical Tool, The Role of Drawing in the Development of Ideas, The Social Potentials Of Creative Thinking, The Expressive Capacity of Surface on the Human Form in Art
PhD: An Investigation into the Potential of Ceramics to Expressively Render Flesh and Skin on the Human Form
BA: Fine Art Painting
Dr Natasha Mayo is a practitioner and researcher in the discipline of ceramics, freelance writer and since 2004 Senior lecturer at the National Centre for Ceramics Studies in Wales, Cardiff School of Art & Design.
Mayo is a figurative ceramicist and has exhibited internationally with work in both private and public collections. She was instrumental in establishing the peer reviewed Zelli Porcelain Prize and was awarded the first prize in 2002. In 2003 she was the editor of Issue 56 of Ceramics in Society on the subject of contemporary figurative ceramics and is currently reviews editor of Interpreting Ceramics (on-line peer reviewed journal). She co-convened the fragmented figure conference and adjoining exhibition in 2005 and subsequently devised and created an associated scholarly website.
In 2008 she received the ‘Innovations in Teaching’ award from the Higher Education Academy and the JORUM prize for her use of film as a pedagogical tool. The methodologies employed were later extended through a number of collaborative initiatives including SIPS (strategic insight Project Scheme) to evidence creative strategies of professional artists attending the international residency ‘Porcelain Another Way’ Poland, and the study of ethnography in the practice of artists involved in Placement: Ceramics Connections exhibition and associated symposium.
In 2010 she received Gwella funding to house and develop those expanding resources in an interactive VLE and co-developed additional resources for each of the key bodies of knowledge taught onto the ceramics programme at CSAD. She presented findings from this body of research both nationally and internationally including SCAD (Savanna College of Art) and E-Learning (Canada). Her paper ‘Drawing into Practice’ identifying correlations between creative thinking through drawing and the mechanisms of Virtual Learning Environments is published by Intellect Books (2012). Her drawing practice also featured in ‘Drawing and Making’ Bloomsbury (2012)
A recipient of HEA Fellowship status, Mayo was awarded HEA funding to co-convene the seminar and associated exhibition ‘Drawing In between: Interdisciplinary Learning Through Drawing’ a field study into the potential of drawing as a fundamental tool in visualizing knowledge (2013). The method of ‘Drawing in Conversation’ employed at the event was further extended through collaborative workshops at the V&A. The potential of drawing as a conversational and problem-solving tool is a fundamental part of Mayo’s research activities most recently involving SIPS to examine the Social Potentials of Creative Thinking though drawing with Valley and Vale Community Arts as external partners.
In arts practice, Mayo continues to examine the figure in ceramics exhibiting internationally as part of the NCECA exhibition route (2011), receiving the Cardiff Arts Open prize (2013) and as part of a touring exhibition with the co operative Clay studio ‘Fireworks’ (2013/14). She is currently working towards a solo exhibition at the Pavilion Arts Centre (2015) entitled ‘Children and Creativity’. She will also co-curate the exhibition ‘The Sensorial Object’ an exploration of materiality and its capacity to evoke sensorial and emotional response (2015).
A member of the Centre for Ceramics and Creative Pedagogies research themes (WIRAD) and the Interactive and inclusive arts research faculty (CARIAD) she continues to present internationally on both ceramics and learning and teaching.
Mayo’s approach to both academic and practical research is essentially interdisciplinary, examining the particular, the shared and the emerging dialogues arising between theory and practice, two and three dimensions and ceramics and film. She has two main areas of research: 1) academic: the identification and innovative implementation of creative pedagogies 2) studio: exploring the surface of the body as a milieu, a place onto which we project identities, societal, gendered and cultural thoughts and feelings.
Academic: The award-winning research project ‘Making the Creative Process Visible’, uses film to identify fundamental patterns and tendencies in the ways in which ideas develop in art practice; generic structures that underpin the generation of artwork regardless of material, style or subject matter. The films make tangible the activity of creative thinking. The project has cultivated an international network of practice across large numbers of students, professional artists, nationalities and breadth of artistic experience. Employed primarily as a teaching resource and contributing to a tool-box of potential strategies, they also create an archive of artistic practice for further research into the activity of creativity.
The role of drawing as a cognitive tool has become an increasingly significant part of Mayo’s research most notably, examination of the capacity of drawing as an interdisciplinary learning tool; ways in which the spontaneity or primacy of drawing can allow us access to, and visualization of, other bodies of knowledge.
Outcomes arising from this research most notably include the devising of methodologies for the integration of drama and drawing practices; employing drama to facilitate flexible movement between modes of thought in order to effectively utilize drawing as a conversational and problem solving tool. This research is ongoing and part of a larger interdisciplinary analysis of the activity of drawing as a thinking tool, specifically analysis of the content of the drama -drawing workshops comprising the following areas:
Semiology – to examine the relationship between image and word.
Social Sciences – to examine the alteration individual style and narrative against group dynamic.
Anthropology – to examine the impact/intrusion of cultural reference on the imagination
Developmental Psychology – to examine relationships between drawing and child development.
Drama – to examine ways in which drawing can significantly contribute to improvised theatre.
Drawing Pedagogy – to examine how drawing can be fully realized as a thinking tool.
Drawing Practice – the impact of drawing as installation and/or performance
Through practice I explore the close association between skin and the expression of thought; the sense in which, when blushing, paling or sweating we are, albeit momentarily, taken over by the skins conveyance of emotion; what could be described as ‘thinking through the skin’. In this way, the figure is considered a milieu, a site from which thinking takes place and onto which thought can be projected, constantly raising questions as to what this permeable layer might convey.
Most recently this has involved exploring how a surface might capture the activity of an idea unfolding, emerging as if from deep within the body through to the skin toward a more cognizant thought. Imagery has also grown from the surface of the body through the fingertips and onto the wall prompting an engagement with wider issues of composition between the figure, drawing and the surrounding environment.
The impact of composition on meaning or narrative is now an important way of suggesting how a child blurs boundaries between ‘real’ objects, experiences and their imaginary world. Compositions test out what Krauss termed ‘structural passivity’ as a thematic device to launch or suspend an event. More aligned with the spontaneous, surreal nature of a child’s creative play, this technique enables exploration of how a viewer might be thrown directly into the core of an activity and suggest an uncertain, jolting even hesitant portrayal of events.
Principal publications and/or exhibitions
(2013) Making the Creative Process Visible, British Ceramics Biennale, Stoke on
(2013) Cardiff Open, Cardiff Collective, High Street Arcade
(2013) Fireworks: Now, Touring Exhibition, Craft in the Bay
(2013) Parental Body, a cultural exchange between France and Wales, exhibiting
works by contemporary artists who explore parenting and the female body in direct contact with artifacts and works from the collection of the Museum of Art and Archaeology of Périgord (MAAP) and Périgueux works Museum of Wales, Cardiff.
(2012) Beyond Borders, ArtXchange Gallery, Seattle, USA
Publications Featuring Work
(2012) Drawing and Making, by Kyra Cane, A&C Black
(2012) Drawing into Practice, Journal of Visual Art Practice, Volume 11 Issue 1
(2010) Mayo, N. 2010. Making the Creative Process Visible, Savannah College of Arts and Design E-Learning resources
Workshops and Events:
(2013) Five day Drawing workshops ‘Social Potentials of Drawing’ a collaboration with Valley and Vale Community Arts at Betws Primary School, Bridgend
(2013) Drawing workshops “Drawing Conversations’ together with Chris Glynn, V & A, London as part of HEA seminar ‘Teaching and Practice’
(2013) Co-convened, Chaired and Presented work at ‘Drawing In-Between: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Drawing’ Seminar and Associated Exhibition, Cardiff Metropolitan University
(2012) Chaired Symposium ‘Placement: Ceramics Connections’ collaboration between Oriel Davies Gallery and Fife Contemporary Art & Craft
(2010) Round Table Workshop: ‘Teaching Material Arts Through Post-‐Material Means’ STLHE ‘Creative Teaching and Learning: Exploring, Shaping, Knowing’ Toronto, Canada
(2013) SIPS funding to collaborate with Valley and Vale Community Arts exploring ‘Social Potentials of Drawing’
(2013) Seed Funding to employ ‘Cognition Training’ to film the ‘Social Potentials
of Drawing’ Workshops and Edit Resultant Footage
(2012) Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
(2011) Arts International finding to secure a collaborative exhibition in Seattle, USA as part of NCECA Exhibition Circuit
(2011) Impact Exploitation Fund, Cardiff Metropolitan University, to promote
National Centre for Ceramics VLE in Seattle USA as part of the NCECA Exhibition Circuit
(2010) SIPS funding to attend, write the catalogue and record further evidence of creative
thinking at the symposium ‘Porcelain Another Way’ Poland
(2010) Gallia award to devise Virtual Learning Environment for National Centre for Ceramics Wales,
(2009) HEA Innovations in Teaching Award for ‘Making the Creative Process Visible’
(2009) Jorum Prize For Open Access Resources Jorum Educational Resources
(2005) Arts Council Grant to support ‘Fragmented Figure’ Conference and Adjoining Exhibition Part of Cardiff Ceramics Research Group
(2000) AHRC Creative Arts grant for Doctoral Qualification
(2002) Zelli Porcelain Prize, Marlebone, London
(1999) AHRC Creative Arts grant for Masters Qualification
Level Four: Positive and Negative
Level Five: Connections and Object(ions)
Field: Drawing and Philosophy
Materiality and Alchemy
Drawing an Experience
Level Six: The Incubator
The Exhibition Module
PhD External examiner:
2010 – Michael Roberts School of Art at Aberystwyth University: An Investigation into Notions of Beauty Within the Genre of Portraiture