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September 2019

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International Ceramics Festival Stoke On Trent

Head with figures Glenys Barton at the Potteries museum

British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) Stoke On Trent 2019

The international ceramics festival is fast approaching it final weekend but there is still time to catch it as it runs until the 13th of October. Now in its 6th festival and 10th anniversary year it features the works of both international, national, and aspiring ceramicists. This was my third visit and I can honestly say it gets better with each biennial. With over 300 artists and makers spread across 25 exhibitions and projects this year’s features more works than ever before.

Instillations in the AWARD section of the exhibition.
John Rainey figure

Some of the featured works having wonderful back stories making the works on show both emotive and evocative. BCB also involves international artist exchange this year in Japan, China, Korea and India, with works produced on display in the Spode China Hall. As you visit the various venues taking part in the festival you cannot miss the “Cast of Thousands” over 2000 ceramic figures made by local schoolchildren as part of the BCB CLAY school project. It is also possible to book a guided tour of the main exhibition in the China Hall. We id and it was well worth it. As the tour is primarily focused on the works of the nominees for the AWARD the main prize of £10.000 its offers a great insight and depth both into both the works on display and the artist behind them.

Ceramic instillation by Zoe Preece
Poignant instillation by Vicky Lindo & William Brookes
View of the exhibition space Spode China Hall

Whilst the main exhibition is held in the wonderful and cavernous Spode China Hall famous potteries across the Stoke regions also take p[art in the festival too, many offering free workshops and the opportunity to create and get your hands stuck into some clay.

Duncan Hooson of the Clayground collective, an evolving instillation at the Wedgwood Museum
Working jug.

Even better entry to the various pottery museums is free for the duration of the festival. The main centers of display and activity include the China Hall, the Airspace Gallery, Middleport Pottery, The potteries Museum and Art Gallery Spode museum Trust Heritage center and last but by no means least World of Wedgwood. For those intending to visit using public transport there is a free shuttle bus to take you to the various aforementioned venues. Middleport port has a very nice café which is if the weather is good offers seating by the adjacent canal. World of Wedgwood offers its lavish afternoon high tea as well as its dining hall which offers a very good value carvery on Sundays.  

Bottle kiln Middleport Pottery

My top tip to anyone visiting is to both book any of the activities you wish to take part in in advance and also to allow at least a couple of days for your visit. Put simply, it’s just too much to fully take in, appreciate, and absorb in a one day visit.

Old Wedgwood Press moulds.
An instillation by Korean artist Wookjae Maeng