Sculptural Processes Group Annual Seminar

Tools and Tooling

Tools are essential to the making of sculpture; yet they are usually overlooked in favour of the hand that wields them or the artwork they produce. This seminar will explore tools (the objects) and tooling (the actions they allow) from diverse perspectives. Ranging from China to Europe, and the eighteenth century to the present day, our speakers consider the role of sculptural tools in technical innovation, their status as objects and their relationship to language.


Professor Katie Scott (Courtauld Institute of Art): Tools, Models, Words: Sculpture in the Making in Eighteenth-Century Paris.

Dr Geoffrey Gowlland (Cultural History Museum, University of Oslo) Learning to Use the Tools of Yixing Zisha Ceramics (China).

Ann Compton (University of Glasgow): Traditional Tools and Technical Innovation in Victorian Architectural Sculpture.

Organised by Dr Jessica Barker (The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Dr Alexandra Gerstein (The Courtauld Gallery)


16.00-16.10: Introduction and Welcome

16.10-16.40: Katie Scott (Courtauld Institute of Art), Tools, Models, Words: Sculpture in the Making in Eighteenth-Century Paris.

16.30-17.00: Geoffrey Gowlland (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo), Learning to Use the Tools of Yixing zisha Ceramics (China)

17.00-17.30: Ann Compton (University of Glasgow), Traditional Tools and Technical Innovation in Victorian Architectural Sculpture.

17.30-18.00: Discussion (chaired by Alexandra Gerstein and Jessica Barker)


Ann Compton (University of Glasgow) has published extensively on sculpture and British art, and was project originator and director of the digital humanities research programme Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951. Recent publications include co-editing (with Tomas Macsotay) ‘National Sculpture in Cosmopolitan Paris’ a special issue of the Sculpture Journal (27.1). Compton is currently writing a history of sculpturally related businesses in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. 

Geoffrey Gowlland is an anthropologist based at the Cultural History Museum, University of Oslo. He has research interests in the anthropology of craft, materiality, apprenticeship, and indigeneity. His earlier research focused on issues of enskilment, and on heritage, in two ceramics productions centres in China and Taiwan. His current research looks at the revitalisation of crafts among the indigenous people of Taiwan and implications for the politics of indigeneity.

Katie Scott is Professor in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, and has an interest in art practices in the eighteenth century.  She is currently working with Dr Hannah Williams on a book about artists’ things that includes a number of sculptors’ tools.

4:00pm, 10 May 2019

Friday 10th May 2019

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, King’s Cross, London