‘Gathering’ workshop at Etruria Canals Festival 2022

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In June 2022, B Arts Stoke invited us to run a clay workshop during the Etruria Canal Festival. BCB Associate Artists Sarah Fraser and Natalia Kasprzycka led the ‘Gathering’ workshop. Participants in the workshop got a chance to collect and process raw clay. While doing so, there was a lot of reflection on the idea of gathering.

The Shirley Mill (now Etruria Industrial Museum) used to process raw materials for the ceramics industry until the 1970s. Situated at a point where the Trent, Mersey and Caldon canals meet, flint gathered by women on the north coast of France was calcined (heated) and then milled using a steam engine to produce bone china. The ‘Gathering’ workshop reflected on women’s labour in the ceramics industry and celebrated the history of the canals.

This short film documents the workshop’s activities and some of the behind-the-scenes processes of the museum. We see where the artists collected and processed the clay used in the workshop – Natalia dug clay from the Etruria Valley in Stoke-on-Trent and Sarah from her garden. The film goes deeper into the reasons and meaning behind the workshop, which was to celebrate and bring awareness to the labour of women as it relates to the early ceramic industry of the area.


Film by James Shuker and Connor Wells


Find out more about the Etruria Industrial Museum.