At Middleport Pottery, we led an explorative project, creating a series of temporary structures, interventions and soundscapes across the site. The iconic interior of the bottle kiln, the hidden corners and traces of former factory buildings became active, contemplative spaces where visitors could experience the layered qualities of this extraordinary site of living heritage.
Four artists, Guillaume Dujat (Sound Artist), Kieran Hanson (Film-maker / Kenawa Films), Joe Hartley (Product Designer / Standard Practice) and myself, came together as an interdisciplinary team to shape and create Resonating Spaces. Over three-months, we worked with the Burslem Jubilee Group, refugee and asylum seekers in Stoke-on-Trent as co-producers and participants in the exploration and expression of collective outcomes.
Whilst the overriding experience of visiting Middleport Pottery is that ceramic wares have been made continuously for over 130 years on site, we felt drawn to the processes and activities, which wrap round the pottery production. On the canal wharf, lengths of hazel were re-introduced to the factory landscape, creating a series of temporary structures and making spaces. Within the lean-to, the natural frequencies and harmonics of clay were explored, the traces of earlier factory processes provided a backdrop for new production. The inner chamber, Middleport’s sole remaining bottle kiln, provided the atmospheric setting for unfamiliar sonic compositions, marking the rhythms of the factory and capturing clay in transformational states. The site of the former frit kiln at Middleport Pottery became the inspiration for a brick-making project which established a material exchange between Middleport Pottery and the White Gold Project, St. Austell (Cornwall). Brick-making workshops took place throughout the festival on the canal wharf with over 200 bricks being produced.
Film-maker Kieran Hanson created a response to the industrial and creative practices at Middleport Pottery, tracing the project as it passes back and forth between times and cultures.
Nº 1, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20; Photos — Jenny Harper
Nº 2, 7, 11, 18; Films & Photo — Kieran Hanson (Kenawa Films)
Nº 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 19, 21; Photos — Des Lloyd Behari