The British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) returns to Stoke-on-Trent from 7 September to 13 October 2019, bringing together more than 300 contemporary artists and makers in a programme of exhibitions, installations and events over six cultural venues across the city.
The festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with an expanded programme that begins in the BCB hub, the China Hall in the original Spode factory site, extending to AirSpace Gallery, and with special site specific commissions and interventions at Middleport Pottery, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Spode Works and World of Wedgwood, each a champion of Stoke-on-Trent’s ceramic identity and history.
At the centre of the biennial are BCB’s two flagship exhibitions, AWARD and Fresh. AWARD brings together new work created by 10 innovating ceramic artists competing for the prize, which has been increased to £10,000 to mark BCB’s 10th anniversary. Alongside this, Fresh returns with a showcase of work by 20 of the UK’s most talented recent ceramics graduates.
AirSpace Gallery in the cultural quarter of Hanley will present Terms and Conditions: propositions in clay, a performative residency and exhibition of new works by artists Dunhill and O’Brien exploring the physical qualities of clay as a material.
Drawing on Middleport Pottery’s profile as a heritage and manufacturing site, Resonating Spaces brings together a series of interventions based around the mass production of ceramic bell-like forms to build on ideas of individual and collective commemoration and celebration. A multi-disciplinary team of artists, including Helen Felcey, Joe Hartley with Standard Practice with a film-maker and sound artist, are leading in the creation of clay and production installations, experimental sound works, community engaged practice and co-produced artwork with local residents, Burselm Jubilee Project, giving audiences opportunity for spectacle, scale, making and reflection.
Spode Works was one of the few ceramic manufacturers in Britain to have operated continuously for over 230 years on the original site. In Externalising the Archive, artist Neil Brownsword brings the former function of the site back into the public realm. Working with other artists and artisans from industry, his large-scale installations will use some of the 64,000 plaster moulds from the Spode site stores with new castings, film, digital projections, sound and performance.
In the 1970s the artist Glenys Barton was Wedgwood artist-in-residence, creating figurative and sculptural pieces that were intended to compliment general factory production with their pure artistry. Using this as a starting point, ceramic artists Duncan Hooson and Stephanie Buttle collaborating with performance and sound artists will present 22 Hands, large-scale clay installations expanding Barton’s vision through the creation of three theatrical sets that will be animated throughout the festival. The title refers to the number of hands that handle a pot during its factory production process.
A free weekend festival bus will run between the different venues, enabling visitors to get round the city to experience the full programme and enjoy the the cultural assets of the city.
The full Biennial programme can be found here.