British Ceramics Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
British Ceramics Biennial 2019 – Stoke-on-Trent
Courtesy of British Ceramics Biennial

British Ceramics Biennial 2019 at The China Hall, Old Spode Works, Stoke-on-Trent 7 September — 13 October 2019 Entrance is free

British Ceramics Biennial prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary edition this autumn with a special, expanded programme of exhibitions, installations and events featuring over 300 contemporary artists. As in previous years, the free festival will take place across six iconic venues throughout Stoke-on-Trent, celebrating the region’s cultural and industrial heritage of ceramic production through the work of talented ceramicists practising today.

BCB’s main hub, the vast China Hall located within the former Spode Factory (once one of the largest potteries in Staffordshire), will host 13 exhibitions, including its two flagship shows: AWARD, which presents new work by 10 leading ceramic artists shortlisted for the £10,000 prize, and Fresh – showcasing a handpicked selection of the UK’s 20 most promising recent ceramics graduates. (Among the AWARD finalists, Manchester-based Barry Finan from Venture Arts will present his most ambitious project to date: a large-scale site-specific ceramic installation featuring 600 unfired bricks onto which he will project his personal messages, ambitions and life goals.)  The Hall will also be a place where visitors can take part in free workshops, purchase ceramics to take home, and see new work by celebrated artists from other ceramic biennials around the world.

Lee Kang Hyo performance at British Ceramics Biennial launch in 2017. © Joel Fildes

Whilst the festival is primarily a celebration of all things clay, many of the artists use the medium to address wider issues. We’re especially keen to encounter Peter Jones’ community-based collaborative project, Growing Cultures, which links the history of the ceramic vessel (made in Stoke-on-Trent) first used to grow Penicillin, with the current crisis we face around public health and antimicrobial resistance. And Lawrence Epps’ new installation, Accolade, that explores the value collective attributed to different objects, processes and people. Many of the artists cross into other artistic disciplines as well, such as collaborative duo Dunhill and O’Brien who will undertake a performance-based residency at AirSpace.

More details are yet to be announced, but BCB will take place across Middleport Pottery in Burslem, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley, Spode Works and Spode Museum Trust Heritage Centre in Stoke, and World of Wedgwood in Barlaston. With so much to see and experience, we recommend you take advantage of the free bus that will operate between each site at weekends!

British Ceramics Biennial 2019 at The China Hall, Old Spode Works, Stoke-on-Trent 7 September — 13 October 2019 Entrance is free

Where to go near British Ceramics Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke Minster, Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Place of worship
Stoke Minster

Just a short walk from Stoke-on-Trent train station is Stoke Minster, believed to have once been an important Celtic religious site and where Christian worship has taken place since Saxon times.

Emma Bridgwater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Museum
Emma Bridgwater Factory

The pottery lover’s mecca, over 1.3 million Emma Bridgwater pieces are produced at the designer’s Stoke-on-Trent based factory every year – each one touched by over 30 deftly-skilled hands. Take an award-winning tour, visit the heavily discounted shop and have a go at producing your own earthenware masterpiece.

Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Stoke-on-Trent
Museum
Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Home to the most significant collection of Staffordshire ceramics in the world and the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found, a visit to Stoke-upon-Trent is not complete without an afternoon whiled away in The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Stoke-on-Trent
Library
City Central Library, Hanley

Described as “the finest and most distinctive example of Modernist architecture in Stoke-on-Trent”, City Central Library is Stoke-on-Trent’s largest library, home to the city archives.

Stoke-on-Trent
Gallery
AirSpace Gallery

AirSpace Gallery is a collaborative, artist led project in Stoke-on-Trent, providing studio and exhibiting space as well as professional support and development opportunities for artists.

Bethesda Chapel, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Place of worship
Bethesda Chapel

Bethesda Methodist Chapel in Hanley is considered to be one of England’s grandest surviving town chapels – and it’s easy to see why.

Gladstone Pottery Museum Summer in Stoke on Trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Museum
Gladstone Pottery Museum

The last complete Victorian pottery factory in Britain, Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton provides a unique insight into the history of Stoke-on-Trent; an area renowned for its world-class pottery and ceramics.

trentham gardens stoke on trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Tourist Attraction
Trentham Gardens

Comprising of 725 acres of land set within a glorious stretch of North Staffordshire countryside on the southern fringe of Stoke-on-Trent, the award-winning visitor attraction Trentham Estate is the last remnant of one of England’s greatest garden estates.

Middleport Pottery
Stoke-on-Trent
Museum
Middleport Pottery

Built in 1888, the beautifully-conserved grade II* listed Middleport Pottery has been producing its world-famous Burleigh pieces for over 120 years. Today it is the only working Victorian pottery left in Stoke-on-Trent and a multi award-winning visitor attraction.

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