The Potteries is where art and science have been successfully combined and worked in harmony during more than 400 years of ceramic production. Local residents and visitors from further afield are invited to come and help celebrate this proud city - its unique history and its present day achievements. Join us for an exciting – community-led DIY celebration of Stoke-on-Trent's ceramic industry, The Minton Free Library and this newly re-discovered tile treasure trove.
We plan to host a number of 'resident' artists and scientists over the two days (including some connected to the ceramic industry). These people will discuss, demonstrate and share their work in an informal way to promote creative conversations and hopefully provoke further collaborative activities. There will be lots of creative and fun activities for everyone to enjoy throughout the two days.
We will encourage visitors to 're-view' the library, tiles and architectural features. We will do this by promoting new ways of looking and seeing the building from microscopic and macroscopic perspectives, and exploring creative ways to record what we find. Visitors will be able to use microscopes, cameras, magnifying glasses and other ingenious ways of seeing the tiles, ceramics and the library building itself in fun and different ways.
Cedric Price: In addition, we will also use the weekend to celebrate Cedric Price - who along with Joan Littlewood - came up with the original 'Fun Palace' idea. Price was an architect who grew up in Stone, Staffordshire. His formative years were spent exploring Stoke-on-Trent and the pottery industry. His celebrated piece de resistance 'The Potteries Thinkbelt' is a conceptual master plan for the radical remodelling of the North Staffordshire urban conurbation as a 'city caused by learning'. Cedric Price is an unsung local cultural hero - we also intend to promote and celebrate this important man and his groundbreaking Thinkbelt work during the weekend.
Everyone an Artist, everyone a Scientist…
The Minton Library, Stoke & 'The Canteen' (Tiled Basement):
Hundreds of exquisite tiles made in the 1870s have been re-discovered after 50 years hidden under wallpaper in a basement beneath the historic Minton Free Library in London Road, Stoke-on-Trent. They are arranged in 'series' and depict literary themes including Fairy Tales, Aesop's Fables and Shakespeare's Plays. This valuable ceramic collection offers a unique showcase of work by some of Minton's most important artists of this period including John Moyr Smith, C.O. Murray and Thomas Allen.
The Minton Free Library and School of Art (next door) stand proudly on London Road in Stoke-on-Trent. These two majestic buildings overlook the former location of the Minton China Works and its distinctive bottle kilns now sadly demolished and lost. They are important historic remnants and a reminder of the internationally significant Minton story. Some of the most important tiles and exhibition pottery ever produced were made and fired on this site. To this day you will find huge decorative vases and fine hand painted china in museum collections across the world. Vast encaustic tile 'pavements' still grace the floors of major buildings of government, parliament and state to be found at the end of every British Empire shipping line: Palace of Westminster (London), Queen Victoria Building (Sydney, Australia), Law Courts (Old Bombay, India) & Bethesda Terrace, Central Park (New York, USA).
Artist and public heritage specialist Danny Callaghan (Ceramic City Stories) was invited to assess the building's in situtiles and architectural ceramics earlier this year. It was then that he made the exciting re-discovery of the tiled basement and realised there was a treasure trove of literally hundreds of rare block print Minton wall tiles hidden behind wallpaper, paint and library cupboard fixtures. During the last three months - an estimated 700 local residents and visitors have visited the building and helped conservation experts to carefully uncover and document more than 500 tiles that haven't been seen by anyone for nearly half a century!