YORK Art Gallery’s Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) will be celebrating ceramics on Saturday with a day of demonstrations, talks and the opportunity to "get hands on" alongside some of the most recognised names in ceramic art.

The Day of Clay will run from 10am to 4.30pm with professional ceramicists Nao Matsunaga, Kerry Jameson, Chris Beale and Ian Howie leading talks, workshops, demonstrations, Raku firing, performance art and more.

Fiona Green, collections facilitator at York Art Gallery, says: "Day of Clay is going to be a fantastic celebration of ceramics across the whole gallery, where visitors can learn new skills, enjoy demonstrations and get hands on with the oldest art form in the world.

“Whether you're a professional or a novice, you can discover more about working with clay, surrounded by the best examples of British studio ceramics in Britain in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA).”

Highlights include the opportunity to see potter Ruthanne Tudball throwing on Hans Coper’s wheel and the Democratic Clay clay performance, where Chris Beale and Ian Howie invite you to watch them at work, listen to their conversation and join in and have your own say, in clay and words.

Kerry Jameson, who trained at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art, will be visiting from her home in Singapore to discuss her work and inspirations.

Internationally renowned ceramicist Nao Matsunaga, who studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, will give a one-hour talk on his latest work at 11.30am in the Studio. "I was contacted by Fiona Green, from York Art Gallery, I think because a lot of my work is represented in the Anthony Shaw collection in CoCA," he says.

"I was artist in residence at the V&A in 2014 when there were a lot of public engagement programmes that happened concurrently with my residency, but I've never taken part in a Day of Clay before now.

"I think it's very exciting; clay is a good medium for all ages; it can be as difficult or as easy as you want it to be, so it really caters for everyone and this event opens up a channel for people to try things out. Working with clay can be quite a messy process, so people might shy away from doing it at home, but at a gallery space, usually people really get into it because they know they can make a mess, and I don't have to guide them."

Nao first studied for a BTech in design at City College, Brighton, before doing a multi-disciplinary degree course in wood, metal, ceramics and plastic at the University of Brighton from 1999. "I majored in wood and ceramics and my teachers, John Colbeck and Alma Boyes, really encouraged me to pursue ceramics as my best medium," he recalls.

"It almost felt easy for me to do works in clay, so I wasn't sure if I was any good or not, but they urged me to continue."

Nao is the son of organic bakers from Osaka, Japan, which turns out to have influenced his working practice. "Before I came to England, I used to help them to make bread, and later on - to my horror!!! - I suddenly realised that baking was an incredibly similar process to making pots, which means I'm basically doing what my parents are doing, but in different materials, so you can see the connection," he says.

Nao is looking forward to coming to York on Saturday (June 10) for reasons beyond taking part in the Day of Clay. "Anthony Shaw probably has more than 20 of my works, and when Tessa Peters curated the new exhibition of his collection at CoCA I had to miss the opening, as I was doing a residency in Java," he says.

"So I'll be fascinated to see how Tessa has displayed the objects and how she has designed the room because it shows what a curator thinks of my work," he says. "Often the hardest thing for an artist is to be objective about their own work, but I don't think there's any right or wrong place to put a piece.

"I try to read the context of where someone places it, as often the context is as important as the piece itself."

Nao is hugely appreciative of Anthony Shaw's support, in particular. "It validates what I'm trying to do," he says. "As a creative person, I'm never 100 per cent sure of what I'm doing when I'm creating it, so it's an amazing feeling to have someone who's so understanding of my practice and the thread of my practice," he says.

"You don't normally get that feedback or appreciation outside of a college or university course, but until you leave there, no-one tells you that!"

Nao is delighted too that his work is on show at CoCA. "It's fantastic," he says. "When you make a piece, often when someone buys it, you never see it again and you don't know whether it's survived or not, but with CoCA and Anthony Shaw, I know exactly where it is."

Not that Nao is "precious" about his work in the event of a breakage "once it's in someone else's hands". "I'm very productive, I work all the time, and I try to not make myself too precious or too focused on one piece or one technique," he says. "Ceramics are not actually that weak; they're easier to store than paper."

Day of Clay is a free event with no need to book, but gallery admission applies. For more information, visit yorkartgallery.org.uk

Schedule for Saturday's Day of Clay

Studio: 10.30am to 11.30am, Penelope Bennett, burnishing demonstrations; 11.30am to 12.30pm, potter Nao Matsunaga, talk; 12.30pm to 2.30pm, David Wright, coil workshop; 3pm to 4.30pm, Karen Thompson, bust building.

CoCA 1: 11am to 12 noon, potter Ruthanne Tudball throwing on Hans Coper wheel; 2pm to 4pm, Chris Beale and Ian Howie clay performance.

CoCA 2: 11am to 1pm, Hands On Here; 12.30pm to 1.30pm, collector Anthony Shaw and Kerry Jameson in conversation; 3pm to 4pm, Anthony Shaw, Kerry Jameson and Nao Matsunaga in conversation; 1.30pm to 3.30pm, Hands On Here.

Gardens/Exhibition Square: 11am to 4pm, York College ceramic students and Ed Poxon, Raku firing; 1.30pm, Garry Barker, ceramic ear trail through the gardens.

Throughout the day: Ceramics Safari children’s trail.