Growing Cultures

Artists: Joanne Ayre, Peter Jones, Joanna Hejmej, Anjum Malik, Thea Stallwood & Alice Thatcher.

Participating groups: Haywood Hospital, Burslem Jubilee Group, OLGBT Group and local Stoke-on-Trent Schools


Growing Cultures is a collaborative art and science project. We worked with artists, local health organisations, community groups and schools and used clay to explore the history of penicillin and the impacts of antibiotic resistance today.

A visual prompt and starting point for the Growing Cultures project was a ceramic culture-growing vessel, made in Stoke-on-Trent.  This vessel was key in enabling the mass production of penicillin. During 2019, Studio Manager Joanne Ayre and BCB Associate Artist Joanna Hejmej worked alongside local education, community and health groups. Together they explored the narrative of place and production and reflect on how the current use of antibiotics may impact our health.

For the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Peter Jones created an ambitious new work in response to the vessel and myths surrounding early uses of penicillin. The installation at Spode China Hall included the work created by the community and education groups. Alongside the exhibition was a film of the activity created by filmmaker, Thea Stallwood.


Haywood Hospital

During February 2019, BCB worked with patients and staff at the Haywood Hospital on our Growing Cultures project. Patients from the Sneyd Stroke Rehabilitation Unit experimented with clay and a range of adapted tools to explore different hand-building and mark-making techniques in an upbeat and sociable session in the ward’s day room. 

Watch the film.


Burslem Jubilee Project

The Burslem Jubilee Project provides support, companionship and activity for asylum seekers and refugees who are currently living in Stoke-on-Trent. In Growing Cultures, we explored health and wellbeing, connected to a public health campaign around AMR. The group worked with ceramic artist Jo Ayre and writer Anjum Malik.

Watch the film.


CLAY Museum

Over the course of a week, 300 students from ten different schools across the city took part in Growing Cultures workshops. In these workshops, students created ceramic bacteria cells to learn about the different types of bacteria. Students then had the opportunity to explore the aspects of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery’s natural science, social history, and ceramics collections to explore the connections between health, medicine and history.

Watch the film.


The Growing Cultures project is supported by Stoke-on-Trent City CouncilPublic Health England and The Haywood Foundation