Empirica members at Ceramic Values conference in Stoke-on-Trent, England

Posted on October 2017

Empirica members contributed to the international ceramics conference in Stoke-on-Trent, England, which is a historical center of English ceramics production. The conference took place on 5th and 6th of October 2017.

Ceramic Values conference aimed to open discussion about the values and roles ceramics has in the society, and it had three key themes: skills, values and place. Among the speakers was the leader of Empirica research group professor Maarit Mäkelä and Empirica member doctoral candidate Priska Falin gave a workshop as part of the conference. The over 350 participants of the conference came from Taiwan, China, South Korea, Japan and across Europe.

Professor Maarit Mäkelä. (c) Minerva Juolahti

The conference was a part of British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) which is a ceramics festival concentrated on contemporary ceramics and consisting of exhibitions, workshops and competitions. This year it takes place between September 23rd and November 5th in Stoke-on-Trent. During BCB also the touring exhibition Ceramics and its Dimensions: Shaping the Future, curated and produced by the Empirica group of Department of Design, is open in its fourth venue. Both the exhibition and the conference are part of a European Ceramics and its Dimensions project, which has been partly funded by the Creative Europe programme of EU. The Department of Design is one of the partners of the project and leads one of its sub-projects.

Discussing clay as a material, the craft and the role of place

Maarit Mäkelä discussed in her presentation the themes of creativity, materiality and place, and argued that in an artistic process material plays an important role as an actor itself. She talked about the mutual relationship in which she threw herself in with the material world when she spent one year in the volcanic nature of New Zealand. A part of the results of this year can be seen in the Ceramics and its Dimensions: Shaping the Future exhibition. Priska Falin conducted an interactive clay workshop as part of the conference. The Clay Pit workshop invites the participants to explore the possibilities of clay via a series of large clay pits, copious amounts of ceramic material, oversize clay tools and creative props. The workshop is going to be open through the whole British Ceramics Biennial.


The Clay Pit workshop. (c) Minerva Juolahti

An old ceramics factory as exhibition venue

The presence of ceramics can be sensed everywhere in Stoke-on-Trent as old ceramics factories, old bottle kilns and architectural ceramic decorations are present all around. Although Stoke-on-Trent can be seen as the home of English pottery industry, factories have been shut down during the recent decades also there. The Spode-China-Halls, where the Ceramics and its Dimensions: Shaping the Future exhibition now takes place, was also a factory still in operation just a bit less than a decade ago, but now it has gotten a new life as a beautiful exhibition venue. The robust interior of the old Spode factory brings the exhibition to a place very similar to that of the old Kahla porcelain factory site, where several of the works of the exhibition were initiated at an experimental workshop in spring 2016. After BCB and Stoke-on-Trent the exhibition will travel to Berlin and open there in January 2018.

Ceramics and its Dimensions: Shaping the Future exhibition in Spode-China Halls in Stoke-on-Trent, England. (c) Minerva Juolahti

Ceramics and its Dimensions: Shaping the Future
British Ceramics Biennial
23rd September – 5th November
Spode-China Halls
Stoke town. Kingsway, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 1JB
Tuesday—Saturday
10.00am—5.00pm
Sunday 12.00 noon—5.00pm
Closed Mondays

Ceramics and its Dimensions: Shaping the Future exhibition:
Blog: futureceramics.aalto.fi
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ShapingTheFutureCeramics/
Instragram: @shapingthefutureceramics
Twitter: @CaiD_Future

For more information:
Ceramic Values conference
BCB festival
Ceramics and its Dimensions project