The third British Ceramics Biennial took place in Stoke-on-Trent from 28 September to 10 November 2013.
The 6 weeks of festival activity aimed to consolidate what had been achieved over the previous five years and bring to Stoke-on-Trent a celebration of ceramics that is both firmly fixed in the City as well as being representative of the most creative international activity.
Highlights across the 6 weeks included our benchmark exhibitions AWARD and Fresh that continued to track both established and emerging ceramicists. These were complimented by a number of commissioned responses to the original Spode factory site and its history; Death of the Bear by Phoebe Cummings produced a large scale installation based on the tableware pattern produced by Spode and other Staffordshire manufacturers in the 19th century, Made in China by Clare Twomey saw 80 vases made in Jingdezhen, China placed in Spode China Hall alongside 1 work decorated in the UK by Royal Crown Derby, Topographies of the Obsolete: Vociferous Void was a site-specific research project between Bergen Academy of Art and Design (KHiB) and 40 interdisciplinary artists into the potential of post-industrial landscapes with a focus on the original Spode factory site, Explore 2013 was a combination of responses from 13 artists in relation to the Spode site and Stoke-on-Trent itself. The outcomes ranged from an archeological dig, to ceramics slip grafitti and re-utilising discarded moulds.
AWARD was once again held at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery and the winner of this feature exhibition was Nao Matsunaga for his ceramic installation, inspired by Neolithic and modern architecture and its inhabitants.
The winner of the Fresh exhibition, an important launch pad for many new artists was Sarah Worgan for her cohesive series of works that collectively framed a rigorous control of material and colour.
There were also many events that brought clay back into the community through the Craft Council’s Fired Up Stoke, a continuation of their national Firing Up initiative that appeared in the previous festival. Bringing together 158 students, teachers and artists in Stoke-on-Trent it aimed to re-ignite the use of clay in high school and college classrooms.