EVENT: Critical Ecologies, Thursday 11th July 2024

  • Thursday 11th July 2024
  • Catalyst CA2 Creative Lab
  • 10 am – 5pm

Critical Ecologies is an opportunity for academic and non-academic staff to come together and share research in alliance with communities and ecologies.

We have two exciting keynote presentations, and space for 6 presenters from within the University to share their research. In creating this fledgling research hub we are acknowledging the need for an open and respectful space where we can build (and rebuild) an interdisciplinary research culture. We also aim to centre nature recovery and environmental justice within these interdisciplinary conversations.

4 July Snap Elections – What our C3 members think

“Welcome to Stoke-on-Trent”, Student Projects 2017 (*)

Last week, Rishi Sunak called for a General Election to be held on Thursday 4 July 2024, saying it was “the moment for Britain to choose its future”. Our C3 members have their on thoughts on what this future ought to look like, and what they see to hope in various party manifestos. Here are some:

Carola Boehm, Professor of Creative Industries and Creative Communities at Staffordshire University:

“As Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the UK general elections, all I could think about was: Could this be the return to “Cool Brittania”? I arrived in the UK at the beginning of 1997, and thus, I experienced the rush of immense hope and giddiness that caught the country as  Labour swept into power after a decade of austerity. This giddiness had at its core an appreciation of British creative outputs, both in terms of the biggest Creative Industries of music and film, as well as the art scene of designers. It was the time when the likes of Noel Gallagher were invited to No 10, where there was a real and explicit effort to turn the UK into a cultural powerhouse, as the Blair government recognised the cultural moment that could help the whole country get back to its feet. These were the years of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, Ginger Spice wearing the Union Jack at the Brit Awards, Austin Powers, and Vanity Fair covers of “London Swings Again”, Blur, Pulp and Notting Hill.

Since then, we have had various Creative Industry strategies and policies, which I would suggest are, at worst, uninformed and, at best, lack aspirations. So when this election was called, my mind snapped immediately to the question of whether any incoming government is aware of how much the creative sectors contribute to our daily lives in the UK. Will it be at the forefront of their thinking, that it was our UK Creative Industries that tended to grow faster than any other sector in the UK;  that pre covid, 12% of our total exports of services were from the Creative Industries, and that boosting the Creative Industries was the fastest economic leveller than any other policy implemented, with, for example, West Midlands Creative Industries jobs growing by 38.9%, whereas all jobs only grew in that region only by 10% (Figures DCMS 2011-2017).   So my hope for any incoming government is that they understand the power of the Cultural and Creative Industries and invest in the country by putting policies in place that allow us all, up and down the country, to re-imagine and experience another era of Cool Britannia. In the words of Austin Powers, we have lost our mojo, so wouldn’t it be groovy to get it back?”

Anna Francis, Associate Professor of Fine Art and Social Practice:

“After 14 Years under the current administration it is certainly true to say that I will be looking carefully at the messages of all parties concerning arts and culture and particularly arts education, and who has access to it. The latest report by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (May 2024) set out the important role the creative and cultural industries play in health and well-being, community development, and education, but also set out the worrying statistics in terms of the underrepresentation of people from working class backgrounds in employment within every area of arts and culture.

The stripping of the arts from school curriculums, and the significant undermining of the role of arts and culture in our society that we have seen in recent years is certainly having an impact on who feels able to take up a career in the arts.

Keir Starmer’s speech at the Labour Creatives Conference, in March 2024 directly addressed these issues and I think we should all be observing with interest how this may be acknowledged within Party Manifestos ahead of the election.”

Sarah Page, Associate Professor in Social Justice and Social Learning:

“With austerity cuts and the cost-of-living crisis significantly impacting people and particularly the most vulnerable, inequalities have seemingly widened. For example, more people have needed to use foodbanks, while others have seemingly misused their privileged positions with illicit covid lockdown parties and visits to second homes when travel was not permitted. Such injustices have led the public to question the authenticity of some policy makers, who have one rule for the public and another for themselves. I wonder whether now is the time for leadership that better understands and address the inequalities gaps in Britain, and is prepared to challenge price extortions that we have been experiencing?”

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(*) If you were the artist that designed above posters, we would love to add credits to the image. Contact us on c3centre@staffs.ac.uk

Obsolescence and Renewal – C3 Member Prof Neil Brownsword artist talk at The Brampton Museum // BCB’23

In connection with the BCB 2023:

  • 28 Oct 2023 2:00pm–3:15pm
  • Price £5,
  • Venue details: The Brampton Museum, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 0QP
  • Booking details at BCB website

In connection with his exhibition Obsolescence and Renewal, Professor Neil Brownsword will present a lecture about his artistic practice. 

In connection with his exhibition Obsolescence and Renewal, Professor Neil Brownsword will present a lecture about his artistic practice. For nearly three decades Brownsword has explored marginalised histories associated with ceramic manufacture in North Staffordshire, focusing primarily on the impact of globalisation in recent decades upon people, place and traditional skills.

His reactivation of endangered industrial crafts has achieved impact internationally via curated projects and cross-cultural exchange. Brownsword’s work raises questions surrounding the value and contemporary relevance of intergenerational skills and obscure regional histories, and how these can be re-imagined into new narratives and modes of expression that reinforce place identity.

About the speaker

Neil Brownsword is an artist, researcher, educator and Professor of Ceramics at Staffordshire University. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1995, his work has gained national and international acclaim. It is represented in public collections internationally, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Korea Ceramic Foundation and Yingee Ceramic Museum Taiwan.

He has received various accolades for his creativity and contribution to contemporary ceramic practice, including the inaugural British Ceramic Biennial Award (2009), the Grand Prize at the 2015 Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, South Korea, and the Whitegold International Ceramic Award (2019).

Rebellious Research is Back!

Led by one of our C3 Centre members, Agata Lulkowska, a new third season in the Rebellious Research Seminar Series (previously known as art/practice based-research seminar series) is now published and available to download and share.

It runs on a last Wednesday of each month starting in October, via MS Teams, at 3:30-5pm UK time.

More details and the programme can be found in the links below or the downloadable PDF.


The C3 Centre at our Research Conference’23

C3 Centre members will be presenting on various sessions at the upcoming Research, Innovation and Enterprise Conference on 24th and 24th of May 2023, this week.

It is still time to sign up for free at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/staffordshire-university-research-innovation-and-enterprise-conference-23-tickets-522644542897

Key events include a session on getting to know the C3 Centre, with a panel including:

  • Carola Boehm, Panel Chair, Co-Director
  • Music and Sound (Marc Estibeiro) (www)
  • Philosophy, Film and The Environmental Humanities (www)(Patrick O’Connor)
  • Ceramic Cultures, Practices and Debates (Neil Brownsword) (www)
  • Practice as Research (Agata Lulkowska)
  • Art and Design Research Group (Ian Brown)

And in a keynote slot, we also have members exploring the tensions between research, teaching, internationalization and regional impact.


  • Carola Boehm, C3 Co-Director & Professor of Creative Communities and Creative Industries
  • Jackie Reynolds, C3 Co-Director & Research Impact Manager

And Panel Members:

  • Michael Knowles, PhD Researcher & Film Producer
  • Giulia Lapucci, PhD Researcher & Cultural Researcher, University of Macerata
  • Jodie Gibson, Visiting Fellow & Arts & Culture Professional
  • Nick Gratton, Lead for Civic Engagement and Evaluation & Associate Professor of Community and Civic Engagement
  • Anna Francis, Associate Professor of Fine Art and Social Practice

We also have individual presentations from members, including

  • Dan Lewis: Designing Emotions: Strategies for Furniture Designers
  • Jackie Reynolds: Building Research Impact
  • Rebecca Nunes: Eco-alliances: imaging the other-than-human to create advocacy for the environment
  • Giulia Lapucci: Collaboration at the Centre: building a Constellation to share and disseminate knowledge
  • David White: The design, development and pilot study of a marine ecological simulation for education or environmental changes on marine life

Registration is free at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/staffordshire-university-research-innovation-and-enterprise-conference-23-tickets-522644542897


Neil Brownsword, Prof of Ceramics, in Conversation at the London Craft Week 2022

As part of the London Craft Week 2022, the Korea Association of Art and Design returns for London Craft Week 2022 with a panel of experts in the area of ceramics, glass and crafts.

The virtual event will take place 9 May 2022, at 11:00 AM . Professor Brownsword will give a talk on:

Thinking through the Past for the Future: Neil Brownsword, Artist, Researcher, Professor, Department of Ceramics, Staffordshire University, UK 

Registration is at:


Abstract is provided below.


Thinking through the Past for the Future.   

Neil Brownsword 

 Throughout history, ceramics have played an important role in the phenomenon of cultural transfer. For centuries China, Korea and Japan have influenced each other’s aesthetics, practices and technologies. Subsequent trade with the West, and the imitation and assimilation of East Asian goods and styles in the late 17th and 18th centuries greatly influenced the development of new ceramic traditions in Europe that were to gain historical prominence.  

 Since 2015 artist Neil Brownsword has explored this historic cycle of knowledge exchange, via performances staged in South Korea and the UK which have addressed the cultural hierarchies and value systems aligned to their ceramic traditions.In his work Factory (2017) staged at Icheon World Ceramic Centre, Brownsword re-choreographed the indigenous ceramic practices of two ex-factory personnel from Stoke-on-Trent and four Korean artisans to question established hierarchies of cultural production and reassign value to people and practices displaced by global economics.  

By reactivating obsolescence via non-commercialised production, Brownsword revealed a shared language of haptic intelligences developed through ethical modes of exchange between East and West.  

 Performing FACTORY in Korea enabled the actors of marginalised immaterial heritage to renegotiate their value in a context where similar embodiments of knowledge are culturally protected. Its tour to the British Ceramics Biennial 2017, furthered UK/Korea cultural exchange, strengthening Stoke-on-Trent’s regeneration ambition as a global centre for ceramics. This presentation examines the context and development of Brownsword’s collaborations and his exploration of heritage as a ‘living process’ that can be constantly reimagined for the future. 

 Neil Brownsword is an artist, researcher and educator who holds a professorial position in ceramics at Staffordshire University. Brownsword began his career in ceramics as an apprentice at the Wedgwood factory in the mid- 1980’s. His practice examines the legacy of globalisation in relation to Stoke-on-Trent’s ceramic manufacturing sector, and the impact this has had upon people, place and traditional skills. Using film and performative installation Brownsword deconstructs complex craft knowledge within industrial production to pose questions surrounding the value of inter-generational skill. His work is represented in public/private collections internationally, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Korea Ceramic Foundation, Yingee Ceramic Museum Taiwan and Fu Le International Ceramic Art Museum China. In 2009 he was awarded the ‘One Off Award’ at the inaugural British Ceramic Biennial, and the Grand Prize at the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, South Korea in 2015, and Whitegold International Ceramic Prize in 2019. 

Upcoming Industrial Crafts Research Symposium

Staffordshire University’s Professor Neil Brownsword is presenting at the upcoming virtual event:

The Industrial Crafts Research Network’s two-day inaugural symposium,

Exhibiting Skill: Understanding, Documenting, and Communicating Skilled Practices of Historical Industrial Environments.

Registration for this symposium can be found here.

Poster and  Programme downloadable here.


Beyond Preservation

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.

More details at https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/c3centre/files/2021/10/Beyond-Preservation-programme-v1.5.pdf



Staffordshire University artists at the British Ceramics Biennial 2021

BCB returns to the Potteries from 11 September to 17 October 2021 and includes an ambitious programme of exhibitions, installations, events and hands-on activities.

A showcase of work by recent Staffordshire University MA Ceramics and BA (Hons) 3D Designer Maker graduates takes place in the main festival hub at The Goods Yard.

Research staff from the C3 Centre exhibiting include Professor Neil Brownsword and Associate Professor Anna.

Associate Professor Anna said about the BCB: “As always, this important biennial activates the streets and buildings of our city, providing an opportunity to discuss the heritage and future of our relationships with ceramics.”

Our University Press release can be found here.

The British Ceramics Biennial 2021 takes place from 11 September to 17 October. See the full programme of events and plan your visit https://www.britishceramicsbiennial.com/

Professor of Ceramics exhibits new work in home of china clay

Whitegold winner Professor Neil Brownsword is joining makers across the world to exhibit his work in St Austell.

In these artworks Neil explores the entangled histories of St Austell and the Potteries of North Staffordshire, bound together by the mining of china clay and its transformation into ceramics.

‘Relic’ is the culmination of five-years of research during which Neil has archived the incredible hand skills of Stoke-on-Trent china flower maker Rita Floyd. He has captured every stage of the hand modelling involved in mass producing the many types of flower that Rita has in her repertoire, and enshrined them in a series of porcelain fragments.

A full press release can be read at https://www.staffs.ac.uk/news/2020/09/professor-of-ceramics-exhibits-new-work-in-home-of-china-clay