A creative clay revolution in St Austell is underway with some of the best makers in the
UK and the world, exhibiting artworks in the town famous for its international china clay connections.
Professor Neil Brownsword was awarded Whitegold’s Quartz prize in 2019 and has created two inter-related artworks for the town that will be launched at the Whitegold Festival on the 19th September. ‘Relic’ consists of fragments of porcelain flowers carefully arranged on the surface of the old pan kiln at Wheal Martyn Clay Works and ‘Taskscape’ is a film and object installation on show at White River Place, the main retail centre in St Austell.
Through these two artworks Neil explores the entangled histories of St Austell
and the Potteries of North Staffordshire, bound together by the mining of china
clay and its transformation into ceramics.
Wheal Martyn Clay Works, St Austell
‘Relic’ is the culmination of five-years of research during which Neil has archived the incredible hand skills of Stoke-on-Trent china flower maker Rita Floyd. He has captured every stage of the hand modelling involved in mass producing the many types of flower that Rita has in her repertoire, and enshrined them in a series of porcelain fragments.
These abstracted individual elements are carefully arranged across the pan tiles of Wheal Martyn’s china clay drying shed – petals, leaves and mounds of discarded flowers, reminiscent of local sky-tips, can be seen as metaphors for the loss of skills and the need for safeguarding endangered craft practices for the future.