Clay Museum Conference 2023

Venue details
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Bethesda St, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW
Additional information

This event is in-person.


This event is free to attend, however, booking is required.

What is the Clay Museum Conference 2023?

How do you engage young people with museum collections?

What goes into designing a programme that combines exciting hands-on clay activity with history, science and local stories?

How do you create cross-curricular links that will get schools interested in participating?

The Clay Museum Conference will address these questions and more as we look back on The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and British Ceramics Biennial’s collaborative work in recent years in an open discussion of the successes and challenges of the Clay Museum programme. This all-day event will bring together artists, museum staff, and educators to talk about how we can get young people excited to learn.


What is the conference about?

The Clay Museum Conference is bringing together key people to discuss, share and reflect on the Clay Museum programme. We will look at how we have developed workshops that engage on many levels. So many different skill sets came together to work on this project, from museum staff to ceramic artists. There will also be the opportunity to hear from teachers who have engaged with the programme. They will discuss the impact this programme has had on their students. Additionally, we will talk about what educators need from museum programmes to help with school visits and engagement.
Clay Museum is a programme funded by Arts Council England. It is a collaboration between The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and the British Ceramics Biennial (BCB). We are engaging secondary school students with the museum and its collections through a series of hands-on clay workshops. The workshops link the curriculum to objects in the museum. We then explore these through practical activities with clay. Learn more about our Clay Museum programme.
Through our Growing Cultures project, we built bacteria cells and also looked at the history of ceramics in relation to health and hygiene. Our Cast of Thousands project was a character-building and storytelling project looking at the history of figurative ceramics. We also learned about some of The Potteries’ famous women from ceramics and politics in our Women in Stoke-on-Trent series.
This conference will bring together our experience, knowledge and understanding. We want to discuss how museums, artists, and educators can work together, delivering creative workshops for young people.


What will this conference cover?

  • The successes and challenges of developing and delivering the programme
  • How to work successfully with schools and engagement with KS3 and KS4
  • Discussion of practical solutions to working across teams within the museum and with external partners
  • The challenges of delivering and working with schools through and after Covid restrictions
  • How to link projects and programmes to the curriculum
  • Developing practical workshops that link to museum collections
  • Getting hands-on and trial some of the Clay Museum workshops
  • Q&A sessions with artists, museum staff and BCB programme lead


When does the Clay Museum Conference take place?

Friday 3rd March 2023, 10:00am–4:00pm.


Who is the conference for?

  • Teachers and educators
  • Museum professionals working with schools and young people
  • Artists and creatives working with schools and young people
  • Those with an interest in creative education and working with schools and/or museums and young people


Who is delivering?

Natalie Armitage, the Learning & Participation Manager for British Ceramics Biennial and the BCB Co-ordinator for the Clay Museum, will facilitate the day alongside Lisa Joyce, the lead for Clay Museum at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Amanda McDonagh, the Education Officer for The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Keynote Speaker – Neil Brownsword, Professor of Ceramics at Staffordshire University

Neil Brownsword is an artist, researcher, educator and Professor of Ceramics at Staffordshire University. Brownsword’s artistic practice examines the manufacturing histories of North Staffordshire’s ceramic industry, and the effects globalisation has had upon people, place and traditional skills in recent decades. His reactivation of associated post-industrial spaces and endangered industrial crafts has achieved impact internationally via cross-cultural exchange, and curated trans-disciplinary collaborative projects. Brownsword’s work is represented in public collections internationally, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Korea Ceramic Foundation and Yingee Ceramic Museum Taiwan. In 2009 he was awarded the ‘One Off Award’ at the inaugural British Ceramic Biennial, and the Grand Prize at the 2015 Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, South Korea, in recognition for his ‘creativity and contribution to the field’. In 2019 he was awarded the inaugural Whitegold International Ceramics Prize.

Guest Speaker – Aysha Afridi, Senior Manager- Museums (Collections Development) at Arts Council England

Aysha has worked across the Midlands for the past 17 years, leading a range of programmes to support engagement with arts, culture and heritage. Aysha is the Senior Manager- Museums (Collections Development) at Arts Council England, and is responsible for the development of national policy related to collections within museums, leading work around restitution and repatriation, Subject Specialist Networks and the Designation scheme. Prior to this, Aysha was Director of Cultural Engagement and Head of Research and Cultural Collections at the University of Birmingham.  Aysha was responsible for overseeing the University’s diverse collections of art, antiquities and objects and supporting public engagement across campus.

Between 2013 and 2019, Aysha was Head of Heritage and Learning at the National Memorial Arboretum, leading the development and delivery of the Arboretum’s learning and engagement activities.  A graduate of the University of Sussex (BA Hons History of Art 2003) and the University of Leicester (MA Museum Studies 2006), Aysha is a keen advocate of enabling the use of museum collections to empower the engagement of diverse communities and to better understand our shared cultural heritage.


How to book?

Book your free ticket directly through this webpage. Visit our What’s On page to see what other events are happening.


In-person Access:

If there is anything we can do to support your participation in the event please get in touch with to discuss what we can put in place for you.