In my last post I talked about my own installation for the British Ceramics Biennial. Here I want to focus on the final outcomes from the entire Hothouse 3 group.
Six months ago we made our first visit to the old Spode site in Stoke to begin our Explore residency.
It's hard to believe that we have finally reached the end of what has been quite a long and in parts intense journey.
The brief was a six month research residency in and around Spode. As a group of nine our individual approaches and working methods are so varied, it was in our own direct responses to Spode that ultimately tied us all together.
We started with a idea of mapping each response throughout the site where one piece of work fed into the next piece.
During several meetings together it became apparent that this wasn't going to work and so we ended up showing in the same room.
Here's the room as we first encountered it back in May. Then it was somewhat difficult to visualise how this would look several months on.
With hindsight I personally think this works well, and seeing all the work together for the first time Friday afternoon just before the preview evening really cemented this.
We are in the room nestled off the main china hall. There is no electricity running directly in to this space so the we have spot lights and table top lights. Making it an intriguing and atmosheperic space as the light begins to fall during the afternoon into the evening.
Phoebe Cummings installation sits in the centre of the room enshrouded by an element of mystery with large sheets of plastic covering the entire piece creating it's own micro climate inside. As you step into this space you enter a magical landscape which has been taken from one of Spode's plate design's ' The Death of the Bear '
Installing during September.
Stephen Dixon's Archeological dig sits to the right hand side of the room.
The Hothouse group (emerging line) www.emergingline.co.uk
Jane and Fay's statements can be found on the website..........
Miche Follano Clocking Off
As a Flâneuse, a winding stroll among the ‘off track’ spaces in the seductive Spode site has informed a psychogeographical response in the creation of a site specific installation. Discarded remnants were gathered, specifically, objects that were once useful among its workers; by savouring their history and soaking up their provenance, they have been reinvented by inclusion into 367 unique vessels representing the individuals that existed here at its closure in 2008. The ephemera are honoured in clay, providing a capsule look at the production line that existed in order to create and maintain a unique brand, a celebration of the skilled workforce that once existed on this site.
Naomi Robinson : Left Behind
Over 100 tiny vessels echoing the memories of Spode. The vessels invite you to explore them, uncovering the stories of former workers and the memories of Spode.
Whilst exploring the site, the beauty of the interior of the building drew me in. Certain aspects of the building really grabbed my attention; splashes of colour throughout the site and the range of textures within the historic walls, including cracks and peeling paint.This installation combines the old and the new, with the use of materials found around the site and the imitation of decayed areas of the building alongside modern processes and my own response to the site. The installation shows all that has been left behind; the legacy of the Spode site, the memories and the emotional responses that relate to the site and its history.
Inspired by order, reoccurrence, systems and process, ‘Trace’ explores the relationship between worker, factory and repetition.
Paths painted on the floors throughout the Spode factory indicate a route throughout the site, which each piece made at the factory would have journeyed through. Worn markings back to the colours below leave a trace of the many that have been there before.
Graduated coloured slipcast vessels sit within this space and comment on a balance between creativity and production.
Coding on each vessel is a visual insight into the making of each piece. A reference to the many items of systematic and informative documents used at Spode and unearthed during the Explore Residency.
Grant Aston Factory: Life investigation 3
Being part of the residency is a personal journey . I am from the Stoke, my family and I have worked within the pottery industry.
The people of Stoke on Trent feel proud of the achievements of the city, it is part of our identity.
The industrial revolution shaped Stoke into its present form. A linear city built along canals which supported the factories, mines and steelworks.
I am fascinated by how people lived in the city during its industrial peak. The environment was shaped by the practical necessities of industry. It captivates me to imagine people living within the mechanism, sometimes harmonising with it and sometimes in discordance.
This piece explores these themes of identity and industry, by using architecture and colour from Spodes blue Italian ware and interacting with the fabric of the building.
I want the spirit of the piece to reflect how the city is using the industrial heritage of the past as an identity with which to forward into the future.
Keith Varney: Hovel
Bottle kilns, once an important and dominant feature of the Spode site and the potteries, have almost entirely disappeared. But for me they still form a lasting impression of the architecture of the area. Originally there were 22 of these imposing structures at Spode.
Air pollution and their inefficient nature, little of the fuel actually heated the ware, led to their replacement with modern kilns. The last of Spode’s bottle kilns was demolished in 1960, leaving only the base intact as the last physical remains on the site.
The strong, bold form of these kilns together with Spode’s history of innovation in both material and process are the inspiration for my response to the factory. The sculptural pieces are the outcome of my exploration of form, line and process and are created in bone china, a clay body developed by Spode, for its pure white colour and translucency.
Over 75,000 Spode patterns have been recorded since Josiah Spode established the factory in 1770. Launched in 1816 using the perfected process of under glaze printing the irrepressible and still in production today Blue Italian and Blue Willow played an active role in securing Spode’s reputation as a leading manufacturer.
My practice is a process by which multiple elements are fed into each other to construct sculptural, rhythmic and architectural forms. Using this technique and by a process of considered selection I have referenced features from the transfer designs, to create new multiple elements to build with to capture this bold robust will to exist.
Kim Norton : Repetition over Time
What struck me when I walked through the doors of the empty Spode site, particularly when I encountered the China Hall, was that this had once been a busy, noisy, environment that worked to its own rhythm - the repetition of production and processes that took place here for almost 250 years had been transformed into this quiet expanse.
Repetition over Time is an ephemeral response to the quiet that currently exists throughout the site.
This period of research has been an exploration into building an all encompassing, spatial experience through scale and materiality reflecting one moment in time.
The continuous feed of water into the clay will gradually soften and begin to change the form, undergoing a metamorphosis and a echo of the buildings identity.
The show opened on Friday evening and runs until November 10th 2013
I highly recommend a visit there is so much to see and it's not often such a diversity of work, and working processes are shown together.
It's truly inspiring for anyone with an interest in ceramics and gives a clear message of how ceramics is being pushed outside of our often preconceived idea around it's functionality and how artists, designers, makers, craftspeople are using this incredible material.
There's something here for everyone to enjoy whether it be tableware, performance, sculpture, installation. collaboration, education, industry, film I could go on but it's better to see it for yourself.
A big thank you to everyone at www.britishceramicsbiennial.com and at www.potclays.co.uk
for supplying my Clay.