British Ceramics Biennial invites community to Tactile Meadow Celebration

The British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) is having a special community event to celebrate the laying of the Tactile wildflower meadow. Happening this Friday 22 March 2024, 2-4pm, on the College Road campus of Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DE. The meadow is between the Flaxman and Beacon buildings.



Celebrate the Tactile Meadow with us

The event is open to all and there is no need to pre-book. It’s a chance to see over 2,000 unique, handmade tiles forming the growing foundations of a new public wildflower meadow. The tiles, made by visitors to British Ceramics Biennial 2023, including 1,000 local schoolchildren, will be laid over the course of a week. Finishing touches will be made with help from the participants at this celebration event.

The Tactile Meadow Celebration will be an opportunity to hear from some of the artists and project co-ordinators involved. See the tiles before they begin their transformation into a vibrant wildflower meadow. Refreshments will be available as well.



The Tactile Project Space

During the 2023 Biennial, which took place last autumn, BCB invited visitors to take part in the festival’s Tactile Project Space. Visitors were able to explore some of the techniques, shapes and colours behind the tile traditions of Stoke-on-Trent. The Tactile Project Space considered links between ecology and the ceramics heritage of the city. They also looked at ideas of reducing waste and the application of ceramics materials in growing processes. The tiles consist of waste materials and plant seeds, mixed especially to nurture growth. Rather than firing the tiles, they are using the potential of clay as a growing medium.

Through a partnership with Staffordshire University, a site on the campus will be the destination for the tiles. They will become a wildflower meadow for the city, creating a living floor to support local ecology.


“This next stage of the Tactile project is an exciting and pivotal moment where we hand over the tiles to the forces of nature. Exposed to the elements, we will be able to watch and see how the carefully crafted substrate tiles transform into a natural habitat within Stoke-on-Trent, increasing biodiversity within an area of Staffordshire University’s campus. To see the tiles laid out together is a joy to behold; a tapestry of colours formed by thousands of hands, that will evolve over the days and weeks ahead.”

Joanne Mills, Studio and Community Programme Manager for the British Ceramics Biennial


The decision to explore the possibilities of reusing waste materials came out of BCB’s partnership with High Speed 2 (HS2). Three tonnes of spoil clay were donated from the construction of the railway station in Old Oak Common, London, as part of the HS2 Arts and Culture programme. Thinking about the lifespan and impact of the work produced in the space beyond the 2023 biennial period brought the team to consider clay’s potential as a growing medium rather than a material destined for ceramic object-making. This served as a platform for the artists to delve into contemporary issues of environmentalism and to act on their reflections on embedding sustainability.

Learn more about the Tactile Project Space.



What’s next for Tactile

The Tactile project is an exploration and appreciation of traditional tile-making techniques of Stoke-on-Trent. Supporting contemporary interpretations of Stoke-on-Trent’s important ceramic heritage, the programme has encouraged wellbeing, resilience and positive mental health outcomes. Participants have benefited from mindful exploration of materials while learning new clay skills and processes. By bringing people together in a creative setting, this collective, positive action promotes building community cohesion and support networks.

Tactile is part of the Clay & Communities programme, delivered through a partnership between British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) and Partners in Creative Learning (PiCL). Clay & Communities has funding from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which the City of Stoke-on-Trent Council manages. The £135,000 of funding for the Clay & Communities programme will include four areas of activity that will bring creative professional development and hand-making with clay to the people of Stoke-on-Trent between 2023 – 2025.

Learn more about the Tactile project.