Endangered Ceramic Skills Symposium
Saturday 16 October 2021, 9am to 5pm
Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW
Beyond Preservation: re-evaluating Intangible Cultural Heritage in the UK Ceramic Industry
Global economics and advances in automation technology have radically
transformed the landscape of the UK’s ceramic industry in recent decades.
Whilst these transitions have facilitated greater productivity, once
commonplace skills associated with ceramic manufacture have now been
displaced, threatening the continuation of much traditional knowledge.
Should such practices, deemed outmoded or economically unviable for
contemporary ceramic production be simply relegated to history or the
trails of heritage tourism? What value is there in safeguarding this
knowledge for the future? How can traditional practices be revived through
new modes of thinking and creativity in a digital age?
This symposium builds upon these questions, and highlights specialist
skills at significant risk of being lost from the industry, surveyed through
recent research for the Heritage Craft Association’s Red List of Endangered
Crafts. Making particular reference to North Staffordshire’s intangible
cultural heritage*, scholars together with former employees and current
representatives from the ceramics industry, will explore a variety of
perspectives concerning a re-evaluation of the industrial crafts and their
revitalisation through contemporary exchange and adaptation.
Although the symposium will be taking place within a cultural event, it will
discuss ways to connect with the local community beyond cultural
institutions, so that they can develop, engage and participate in ‘their’
intangible heritage. It is hoped that this event will introduce new ways of
valuing industrial ceramics skills that are not influenced by the immutable
heritage discourse of experts, by facilitating those that were and are still
involved in the industry to articulate the value of their own heritage.