Through our Clay Exchange programme we are exploring how Clay Country can re-connect to Ceramic City, Stoke-on-Trent, the historic heartland of ceramic production where millions of tonnes of St Austell’s china clay have been sent, and a city also looking to refashion it’s future through its industrial past. This relationship is currently being re-imagined through Brickfield, which aims to re-introduce the china clay pits to people in St Austell and Stoke-on-Trent as a place of human production through the humble brick.
In 2019, we exchanged white china clay with red etruria marl clay for brick making at the Brickfield site in Blackpool Pit and for community brickmaking at Middleport Pottery where the china clay would have arrived from Cornwall by barge.
The British Ceramics Biennial started in 2009 and has grown to be the single largest ceramics event in the UK. The biennial is a catalyst for regeneration within Stoke-on-Trent and is helping to solidify the city as the international centre for contemporary ceramics. Through its practices, the BCB has helped to bring art, creative energy and attention to the city; facilitating new public engagement within local communities; and for visitors and tourists.
The biennial showcases the work of the UK’s leading ceramicists through various exhibitions and events across Stoke. As well as holding this prestigious event, the BCB has a programme of commissions, education and community projects that run throughout the year for artists to partake in.
Over 5 weeks in September, the BCB festival takes place boasting an ambitious programme of exhibitions, installations and hands on workshops for those visiting to enjoy. Many of the artists involved with the Whitegold International Prize are involved in exhibiting at the festival.
Artists at Middleport Pottery, where they film the Pottery Throw Down and where china clay from St Austell would have arrived by barge, are making bricks with a clay mix that uses kaolin from Cornwall. Meanwhile we’re soon to be mixing their etruria red marl clay into our @brickfield ‘muck’. All in the spirit of exchange and marking our shared heritage!
Here is our Whitegold Brickfield exhibit in the Spode China Hall. We’re very proud to be working with BCB who are leading the way in ceramic art and regeneration projects.