Stoke-on-Trent is the home to the now empty Spode factory. It was once the heart of the British ceramic manufacturing industry and driving through the rather forlorn centre the brown signs to Emma Bridgewater and Wedgewood catch the eye. We followed the brown signs to the ‘Cultural Quarter’ and arrived at….Debenhams.
Spode was one of the two largest potteries in Staffordshire and the huge, factory is currently host to the third British Ceramics Biennial. In 2008, the factory was closed. The workers were ushered from the factory, leaving their belongings behind. The contents of the factory were left.
The vast China Hall was the central focus of the Biennial. Here, in the Ibstock Brick Pavilion, artist Lawrence Epps‘ office workers made into brick blocks were stacked for the audience to take. The pile was depleted, echoing the historical decimation of the British manufacturing potteries industry so pertinent to the site. Epps was filming the activity.
We were visiting to see Topographies of the Obsolete: Vociferous Void which was in a separate part of the Spode site. It is a site-specific research project, a collaboration between partner universities and institutions in Denmark, Germany and the UK and included the work of fellow post methodist artist, Danica Maier.
British Ceramics Biennial
28 Sept until 10 Nov 2013