We’re marking our calendars for September 26, when the UK will launch the next chapter of the British Ceramics Biennial. Hopefully the show will give us six weeks of glorious, fresh ceramics we can cover. This text is from the Biennial. For the full version, click here.
Above image: Andrea Walsh, Tiny and Small Faceted Boxes, 2014; black fine bone china, 22 carat burnished gold interior and glass, 4 x 4.5 cm and 6 x 6.5 cm. Photograph from the artist, found on ArtDaily.
This autumn the UK’s largest ceramics festival will be in Stoke-on-Trent for six-weeks, a platform for new ideas, new works and fresh approaches to clay, celebrating the best in contemporary ceramics through an exciting programme of new exhibitions, installations, activities and special events. At the heart of this international cultural event stands the historic former Spode pottery factory, which will once again form the creative hub for the festival. For the first time the building’s imposing China Hall will be home to the Biennial’s centrepiece exhibition Award. Following selection by a panel of judges chaired by Alun Graves, Senior Curator at the V&A, the 11 artists shortlisted for its £5,000 prize will each present new works exemplifying the energy and vitality of British contemporary ceramics. Joining Award in the China Hall will be another festival highlight Fresh, showcasing the most promising talent from the UK’s recent graduates working across ceramics disciplines. This popular exhibition provides an important launchpad for tomorrow’s ceramic stars, with approximately 20 graduates selected in partnership with NACHE, the National Association of Ceramics in Higher Education. The exhibition campaigns for the continued investment in creative programmes within education. Featured artists are to be announced in August.
A programme highlight for 2015 will be a new WW1 commemorative installation created by artists Steven Dixon and Johnny Magee. In honour of the fallen men of the North Staffordshire Regiment and recognising Stoke-on-Trent’s long history of ceramic flower making, 194000 will feature 5,608 flowers incorporating forget-me-nots as a symbol of memory and love, handcrafted from white bone china and tagged with individual memory markers. A blanket of flowers will serve as the monumental screen for a filmed seascape. There will be unique opportunities for visitors to get involved in the creation and interpretation of the installation.
Further highlights will include:
• Re-apprenticed by Stoke-on-Trent based artist Neil Brownsword will artistically reactivate a series of traditional practices from North Staffordshire’s ceramic industry. Neil will apprentice himself to skilled former ceramic industry employees learning traditional techniques including copper plate engraving, china painting and flower-making, working with three former ceramic artisans Paul Holdway, Tony Chellinor and Rita Floyd respectively. Through film, image and object making Neil will explore how this expert knowledge is displaced through advanced technology and politics of outsourcing
• Having completed a short R&D project exploring the Spode Museum Trust’s archive, ceramic artist Charlotte Hodes will develop a new body of work and create an installation of tableware for exhibition
• BCB continues its collaboration with AirSpace Gallery, where artists will present an interactive exhibition themed around flowers, environmental management and urban regeneration
• Press Print to Make? Artists’ exploration of ceramic rapid prototyping and its applications in industry, architecture and design. Leading experimental ceramic artist Michael Eden will use a ‘state of the art’ on-site 3D printer to demonstrate the process. This will be complemented by a programme of events delivered by RIBA, focusing on the architectural use of 3D printed ceramics
• Displays from a new research project at the Royal College of Art led by Professor Martin Smith and Dr Steve Brown, which explores the potential for the digitally printed ceramic transfers to a commercial context, in partnership with Digital Ceramic Systems and Royal Crown Derby
• A new participatory installation by Lawrence Epps titled AGAIN. Featuring a fairground ‘coin-pusher’ machine adapted to operate using hand-made ceramic coins, the piece combines the tactile materiality of Epps’ ceramic works with the adrenaline of the arcade, inviting the viewer to enter into a wager with the artwork. AGAIN launches in conjunction with a new publication the very last time, edited by Epps with poet Holly Corfield Carr
• Awarded – A new site-specific project in the China Hall from 2013 AWARD winner Nao Matsunaga. Nao will present a ceremonial gathering of his sculptures from the last two years, inspired by his own experience and interest in Stoke-onTrent, Neolithic cultures and the Spode site itself.
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