Made in the Middle is Craftspace‘s tri-annual open exhibition that has charted over two decades of professional contemporary craft practice in the Midlands. I am very pleased to be among the 35 makers selected to exhibit in 2012. I have used the opportunity to look at the role the Midland’s potteries industries have played in feeding western appetite for oriental china whilst continuing to explore ideas about livelihoods, resources and regeneration.
Spode is a strong British brand with a rich industrial history and its closure in 2009 profoundly changed the social and economic landscape of the region. Whilst production has since resumed close by under the Portmeirion Group portfolio, the loss of livelihoods and camaraderie experienced working there is still keenly felt. Moves have been taken to save the expansive factory site from supermarket redevelopment but its future role and use remains unclear.
The architectural landscape of the factory combined with the marks left by human, mechanical and decaying processes provide the inspiration for a series of digitally printed textile designs that have become the fabric element of the pieces exhibited. Charity shop ceramics sourced from struggling highstreets provide silhouettes that reflect the architecture and bestsellers of past ceramic production. Through the materiality of the building, the pieces celebrate the community life that existed at Spode and continue the regional tradition of making contemporary blue and white ceramics.
The exhibition launched at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham on the 11th February 2012 and over the next 18 months will visit The National Centre for Craft & Design, Shire Hall Gallery, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Bilston Craft Gallery and Northampton Museum & Art Gallery. See www.madeinthemiddle.org for details and listen to me talk more about the work here.