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.
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.”
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.