Making Stoke-On-Trent's ceramics a tourism game-changer
Image courtesy of: Wherethepoppiesnow.org.uk
Encouraging tourism and jobs in the Midlands is a concern, so at our November forum we will be looking at measures in Stoke-on-Trent to promote both the historic pottery industry and contemporary ceramics science research.
The British Council has produced research that states while Brexit is viewed as ‘a challenge by many working in British arts and culture, it also heralds important opportunities for the sector’.
The insight report ‘The art of Brexit’ goes on to state that ‘the economic argument for the creative economy is now well understood: the creative industries are the UK’s fastest growing sector, worth more than £80 billion each year and constituting 9% of British service exports.
What of the successful export of art and design products to Europe and beyond? Britain grew its identity and reputation during the industrial revolution for earthenware and fine China. So how can the UK exploit its heritage of applied arts and contemporary creative production post Brexit?
At our November forum at the Woolwich Print Fair, Royal Arsenal Woolwich, we will be discussing the cultural, creative and ceramics developments in Stoke-on-Trent with Paul Williams (pictured below), Chair of Stoke-on-Trent's Cultural Destinations Partnership, who says the city must capitalise on its history and attract visitors to its potteries and urban attractions.
More than 122,000 people have visited Middleport Pottery to view the sculpture ‘Weeping Window’ since it opened to the public on 2nd August. Local people as well as visitors from London, Liverpool, Birmingham and further afield from Dubai, Istanbul, Zurich, Auckland and Athens.
The display of ceramic poppies commemorates the soldiers who fought and lost their lives during the First World War, is part of a UK-wide tour with the original concept by artist Paul Cummins in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces.
Stoke on Trent was integral to the original installation, as a base for the creation of just under half of the ceramic poppies. The city also provided the clay that the poppies were created from. The sculpture has been displayed cascading down a factory bottle kiln.
The city is officially recognised as the World Capital of Ceramics and Middleport Pottery has been operating since 1889. During the First World War, demand for ceramics goods made in the area greatly increased and this included tableware for hospitals, homes and the military as well as propaganda items.
This month, business leaders announced that 2,000 jobs are secured or in the pipeline due to the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone. The zone is one of the most successful of its kind in the UK providing a huge boost to the economy in Stoke-on Trent and North Staffordshire.