Whitegold International Prize

2019 International Prize Shortlist

We would like to extend our thanks to all those who entered the first Whitegold International Ceramics Prize. With over 100 submissions from all over the world, the jurors had a very tough job on their hands selecting the final 10 who artists who are exceptionally skilled in putting social interaction and engagement at the heart of their artwork, which was the focus of the 2019 prize. The 10 finalists were selected on the basis of previous ceramic artwork they have produced that connects people, culture and place in a variety of ways – a mission which is at the core of Whitegold’s aim to support the cultural regeneration in St Austell, the UK home of china clay. The artists are from as far afield as Australia, Sweden and Finland as well as from the UK.

Artists were selected by the Whitegold jurors: well-known china clay artist Jenny Beavan, Dr Katie Bunnell co-curator of Whitegold, Stephen Dixon, Professor of Contemporary Crafts at Manchester School of Art, Dr Wendy Gers, independent international ceramics curator, John Hodkin from Eco-Bos who has been working with china clay for many years and Ashley Shopland Business Manager for Imerys, the St Austell manufacturer of china clay.

Shortlisted artists were invited to visit St Austell on 20th September 2019 for a field trip around clay country and an introduction to the town itself. They made presentations about their work and started conversations with the community of St Austell. The events were free and open to the public as part of the Whitegold Festival on Saturday 21st September 2019.

Neil Brownsword

Neil re-evaluates Stoke-on-Trent’s post-industrial legacy, and its impact on place, people and artisanal knowledge. Much of his practice in recent years has been characterised by the recovery and analysis of past material culture through a reengagement with archives, obsolete technologies and living testimony. His work raises questions surrounding the contemporary relevance of trans-generational skills cultivated by instruction, and how these can be regenerated into new modes of expression.

Converging the dynamics of hired labour, performance, social practice and film, Brownsword interrogates cultural value systems attributed to marginalised and endangered industrial crafts within the ceramic industry. His subversion of the artisan ‘on display’ model, questions how the parade of indigenous craft from the visitor centre experience obscures the realities of profit first strategies of automation and global outsourcing. Through his employment of former artisans as a primary ‘material’, and disruption of their former craft practices, Brownsword confronts the effects of globalisation upon North Staffordshire’s intangible ceramic heritage.

Neil Brownsword

Helen Carr

Using the motifs and techniques of historic English glaze recipes and Delftware ceramics, Helen’s work engages with the South London community she lives in. A constantly developing body of work is inspired by the culture, location and industry of the hugely successful Lambeth Delftware; in particular the ornate and often humorous Posset Pots, dating from the 17th to 18th century. Tin-glazed and hand painted in cobalt with charming and naive patterns, figures and foliage, the pottery was produced for a largely working-class market.

Helen feels a strong connection with the working conditions of the Cornish China Clay workers and the strike of 1913, as an example of inspiring collective action and a fight for social justice and fairness. Within her work Helen wants to celebrate and show her deep respect for the innovation and legacy of the British ceramic industry.


Mark Essen

Mark is a Birmingham based artist. He graduated in Fine Art from Birmingham City University in 2007 and Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 2012 . In 2017 he opened his studio project, Modern Clay in Digbeth, Birmingham, a socially engaged ceramics studio. The studio has a belief that artist can bring change and benefit culture and society. Working within 3 main interconnecting strands: Artists, Education and Public. One aspect of the project is to give the homeless community of Digbeth access to clay studios. In 2019 the studio developed an artist led members coop.

Mark has participated in residency programmes at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Doremifasolasido at Florence Art Centre and was part of a UK-Korea exchange co-ordinated by Grizedale Arts & Wysing Arts Centre. He has exhibited at Jerwood Space London, Workplace Gateshead, Eastside Projects Birmingham, Tate St Ives, and Hauser & Wirth, Somerset.


Annelie Grimwade Olofsson

Annelie is an artist from Sweden who combines material research and design in ceramics and glass. Motivated by social issues, Grimwade investigates human activity in bio-geophysical settings where fragility is a recurring theme. Through material experimentation and theoretical research Annelie’s poetic projects explore the borderline between controlled and self governed form, testing her belief that the true power of material aesthetics can be found beyond human imagination.

“The way humans perceive the world is through our five senses, which informs us of our surroundings. In an attempt to foster a deeper understanding of materiality in relation to human nature, I try to make work that touches humans in their lives. I am driven by bio-geological and sociological phenomenon and explore material in relation to infrastructure and institutions. I create forms that are on the borderline between artistic intention and materialistic innovation in site specific contexts that are intended to inspire people to reflect upon human impact on earth. I see craft as a way to inform design and to bring awareness and tactile encounters back to the viewer, or the experience if you may, and thus the nature of creative making as a means to communicate the current state of our world”.


Leah Jensen

“In the production of my work I use a pattern mapping technique whereby a printed image is repeated around the surface of an unfired vessel and pins are used to map out significant points within the image, breaking it down to its most basic structure. The pinholes left behind then dictate where intricate geometric patterns are carved.

I have been developing ways in which the techniques used in my work can be adapted to appeal to those who lack confidence in their creativity, and possibly even believe that they are not naturally creative at all, with an aim to make creativity accessible to everyone. By taking some of the decision making away from the early stages of a creative activity, the idea is to free people to focus on developing an excitement for working with materials that, in turn, can produce ambition and spark ideas”.


Rosanna Martin

Rosanna is an artist living and working in Cornwall. Her practice explores the relationships between landscape, people and materials. Clay is often used as a catalyst for conversations, research, and experimentation; and as the preliminary material in the creation of participatory events.

Rosanna is currently working on Brickfield, an experimental brickworks set in the now disused china clay quarry Blackpool Pit. Brickfield draws on the heritage of brick making in the region, using waste materials from the industry to create a new clay body that local people can mix, mould and fire into bricks.

On a residency at the Eden Project, Rosanna analysed clays, sands and silts under the microscope. The materials were collected on walks around clay country and the research aimed to examine the human impact on the land. The resulting digital imagery is currently being translated into weave designs and ceramic transfers prints.


Katie Spragg

“As an artist and educator, I combine clay with a range of processes including animation, illustration and installation, to create work that aims to arouse curiosity.

My current body of work advocates the simple pleasure of being outside in nature; I am interested in the way that humans and plants co-exist – how we attempt to curate nature yet it proceeds to grow and thrive beyond human ordering. My work aims to motivate an appreciation for the natural world but to not be precious or elitist about the environments that are revered – to see value in the overlooked nature that exist in urban environments as well as vast, beautiful natural landscapes.

Through workshops and projects, I create work in response to collaboration and participation of other people, most recently with young people from Lambeth Young Carers and people with Dementia through the Clay for Dementia programme I have developed with the Garden Museum”.

Vipoo Srivilasa

A Thai born, Melbourne-based artist, curator and arts activist, Vipoo Srivilasa works predominantly in ceramics, exploring culture shifts and migration experiences. His work is a playful blend of historical European figurative and Asian Decorative art practices with a health dose of Contemporary Culture.

Collaboration has been an important part of Vipoo’s creative practice. He has been using clay activities to engage communities with his creative process and to generate cultural exchange through casual dialogues between participants during the activities. He is hoping to re-create this experience for the Whitegold Prize.

Vipoo has exhibited internationally and has received numerous awards, most notably the National Sports Museum Basil Sellers Creative Arts Fellowship and Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award. His work is held in public collections around the world including The National Gallery of Art, Australia; Clayarch Gimhae Museum, Korea; Henan Museum, China and London Craft Council, United Kingdom.


Tana West

British Ceramics Biennial 2017 – Spode China Hall.

Tana is an artist working predominantly with ceramic processes, using the language of ceramic materials and object making to connect with social, political and historical contexts. She studied sculpture at Central St Martins, completing her MA at the Royal College of Art in Ceramics and Glass in 2014.

Since graduating, Tana has been involved with several place specific and collaborative projects including ’Orchard Works’, embedded in a sector deeply rooted in Somerset’s identity, the project aimed to invigorate a rethinking of the region’s apple culture. She has waded into the mud with environmental historians examining our relationship to water, part of a collaboration between ‘The Power and the Water’ and ‘Towards Hydrocitizenship’ projects.

In 2017 Tana won Award at the British Ceramics Biennial for her project [UN]WOVEN, made with the help of a distributed online community across borders sending clayey soil in a variety of ad hoc receptacles.


Working with Soil Group

The Working with Soil Group seek to raise awareness of the relationship between humans and the material world through engaging with ceramic art. They use craft making as an embodied practice that enables a dialogue between people and environment to be established. They believe the process of making with clay is a valuable way in which to reconsider the profound relationship between humans and nature.

A previous site-specific ceramic art project, “Traces from the Anthropocene: Working with Soil” addressed the ecological impact of humans on the geological environment in the Venice lagoon area. The project was exhibited in Research Pavilion #3 at The Venice Biennale 2019.

Working with Soil group consists of ceramic artists and artist-researches from Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland: Aalto ARTS’ EMPIRICA research group and is led by ceramic artist and professor Maarit Mäkelä and members include artist-researchers Riikka Latva-Somppi, Ozgu Gundeslioglu and ceramic artist and Aalto alumni Catharina Kajander.

Related Articles
Whitegold International Prize

The best of the best 2019

Professor Neil Brownsword is the winner of Whitegold’s International Quartz Prize
Whitegold International Prize

Feldspar award winner 2019

Tana West is the winner of Whitegold’s International Prize, Feldspar Award.
Whitegold International Prize

2019 International Prize People, culture and place

Artists, collectives and CIC’s are invited to submit works that use clay.
Whitegold International Prize

2019 International Prize Jurors

Extended thanks goes to the team of jurors for the 2019 prize.