Award-winning ceramics artist and Master at Eton College Connor Coulston is hosting his latest solo exhibition Dreamin’ of a Chippy Tea at Eton College for the public to visit for free.

This introspective showcase delves into Mr Coulston’s working class upbringing in Oldham and reconciles it with his current role as an educator at Eton College.

Hosted at the Drawing Schools Gallery at Eton College, the exhibition features an array of ceramic sculptures adorned with hand-written titles and captions that narrate Mr Coulston’s personal journey, including, my mum called me her Billy Elliot…I told her to stop being a sad cow, Baliffs be Knockin’, and The Greggs Ladies that Maketh the Man.

Honouring his upbringing with a sincere reflection, Mr Coulston’s work adeptly captures the emotional complexities of his working-class identity and familial relationships. This month, these poignant expressions are propelled into Mr Coulston’s current and markedly different surroundings with this exhibition where he teaches his craft.

Integral to the exhibition is Mr Coulston’s exploration of his experiences teaching at Eton College since 2018. A poignant floral piece, adorned with portraits of his students, pays homage to ‘the brave ones’—pupils daring to engage with the sometimes challenging medium of ceramics.

Mr Coulston said, “The decline of Arts and Ceramic courses is disheartening. I often remind the boys how fortunate they are to work with clay. It saddens me to think that children in Oldham and many state schools lack the opportunity to explore the arts, and the more I teach Ceramics, the more I realise it should be widely available to students at GCSE and up due to the huge mental health benefits but also the wide array of problem solving and creativity it takes to construct a pot.”

Most recently, Mr Coulston was selected as one of 50 artists whose work was commissioned by Sky Arts in a project exploring what it means to be British post-Brexit and was awarded second place in the British Ceramics Biennial, the national ceramic competition, for his installation If we laugh, then let us be Guilty.

One of the two monumental pieces within his latest exhibition illustrates Mr Coulston’s collaboration with renowned horticulturist Stephen Crisp. Crisp was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Associate of Honour in 2017 by President Sir Nicholas Bacon for distinguished service to Horticulture. Reflecting on the Oldham Riots, Mr Coulston recreates a wheelie bin entirely crafted from clay, complemented by a 2.5-meter floral installation resembling a fireball.

Mr Coulston shares, “I remember living with high anxiety around that time as my mum kept saying to my sisters, who are mixed race, to just say they were tanned from holiday if anyone approaches them if they were out.”

Dreamin’ of a Chippy Tea is currently on display at the Drawing Schools Gallery, Eton College, until 17 December 2023. The exhibition welcomes weekend visitors from 2:30 to 5:30 pm via appointment only.

Photograph by Matthew Booth. Dreamin’ of a Chippy Tea installation, 2023.