The Ceramic Mug as an Expression of Identity

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  • Title: The Ceramic Mug as an Expression of Identity
  • Author(s): Kate Wilson
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Designed Objects
  • Keywords: Identity, Material Culture, Pottery Mug
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2325-1379 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1395 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Wilson, Kate. 2018. "The Ceramic Mug as an Expression of Identity." The International Journal of Designed Objects 12 (2): 51-62. doi:10.18848/2325-1379/CGP/v12i02/51-62.
  • Extent: 12 pages


The Shepton Collection, comprised of 412 seemingly banal pottery mugs and drink-related objects, is owned by a cider factory located in the English town of Shepton Mallet. It evidences individual and collective identities in relation to a specific geographical location, that being the southwest of England, and the culturally embedded activity of cider drinking. Spanning over two hundred years of industrial manufacture, these vessels represent both local and national drinking habits and related rituals. Examined as part of a tripartite model of artist practice-led research, this article considers the collection through the application of material culture theory and a selection of case studies to assert the cultural value of such objects in terms of identity, belonging, and emotional attachment. The discussion proceeds from the cataloguing of the collection and pre-empts a subsequent body of relational and comparative creative studio ceramic practice, presented as a viable research tool when examining such collections. This article is an adapted chapter from the resulting doctoral thesis.