Helen Walsh, CoCA’s curator of ceramics tells us her tips on buying, displaying and building your original ceramic art collection in your home.

CoCA’s collection is the largest in the UK and one of the most important, covering the whole of the British studio pottery movement from its beginning through to the current day. Consisting mainly of work by British artists, there are also pockets of work by international artists from Europe, Japan, USA and Canada. When buying pieces for your home it’s important to keep a few points in mind, here’s Helen to tell you more.

Buy things for your home that you really love

“I would always say buy things you enjoy looking at and handling, things you would regret not buying. Buying for a financial investment is always a gamble and I think its much more rewarding to buy something you love and are happy to share you home with.”

Buy a piece you can afford at the time

“One collector once said to me: ‘If you’re going to buy one, buy a big un’ I think this is good advice. If you have to stretch your bank balance a bit or do without, you are more likely to put some serious thought into a purchase and be really sure.”

Check out degree shows for emerging talent

“All great artists have to start somewhere and there are opportunitiesĀ to buy at degree shows, open art shows and fairs. It is always worth going to art shows in public galleries to work out the types of things that you are interested in and to learn about the skills and qualities of great art to educate your eyes in what to look for when buying.”

Introduce movement to your display

“A curator once wrote that displaying ceramics is like trying to display animals in a zoo! Of course pots don’t move, but their three dimensions can prove a challenge. One of the things I like best about pots is that you can move them around and group them to create dialogue and conversations.”

“I find it very easy to see pots as characters and it is fun to see which like sitting together and which prefer to be alone. Unlike a painting which is static on a wall, pots can be moved around constantly , they lend themselves to being handled in a way that many ‘art collections’ don’t. By using them you can have a very personal and intimate relationship with them.”

Mix things up

“I don’t think there is one specific way to display pots, just experiment, move things around and find what suits you and your collection best. Also, mix things up as Anthony Shaw does with his collection, showing different materials and types together on different surfaces and against different back drops.”


We want to hear from you, our wonderful visitors, artists and art appreciators. Use our social media # to feature your own art collections and favourite artworks using #artandcollectors.

Share your own ideas and tips on how to create interesting and inspiring collections by leaving a comment on our blog, we’d love to hear your opinions.