The British Ceramics Biennial opens on Friday, kicking off six weeks of pottery-themed exhibitions, installations and artist residencies in and around Stoke-on-Trent.
The festival hub will transform the Spode Pottery factory, a 9.4 acre listed site founded by Josiah Spode in 1770, which has stood empty since 2008 when production at the factory was discontinued. Spode is one of the best known porcelain manufacturers, responsible for the technique of printing designs engraved on copper plates which resulted in the Willow collection and the Blue Italian pattern.
Modern ceramicists have been commissioned to create new work inspired by the Spode works. It is a sprawling, sculptural red brick building with huge bottle-neck kilns. Five artists have created site specific installations which will allow visitors to see different aspects of the original factory. More than 40 recent art graduates from have also been invited to furnish the site with smaller ceramic items of both a practical and conceptual nature.
Tomorrow artist Lawrence Epps will unveil several extensions of his “Human Resources” (made from thousands of mechanically extruded businessmen) installation in locations across London. A further special sculpture in a secret location in Stoke-on-Trent will greet locals and festival visitors alike.
Another highlight is the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, which will hold an exhibition of work by 24 modern ceramicists and will award one of them a £10,000 prize.
British Ceramics Biennial runs 30 September to 13 November, www.britishceramicsbiennial.com