Sunday, 29 September 2013

Day 1 in the BCB Laboratory: Helping Hands for the Spode works

As part of the British Ceramics Biennial 2013 programme , I have been situated in The Laboratory for the first ‘Weekender’ event.

For the weekend of 28th & 29th September only, visitors to the exhibition at the Spode Works can leave their mark by  placing a ‘Helping Hand’ on any of the three walls situated between ‘The Pavilions’ in the China Hall. These ‘Helping Hands’ are carrying out ceramic-based activities to repair the walls and suggest the collective rebuilding and repairing of an industry and reveal the architectural potential of clay.

The Laboratory

Transferring skills, processes and materials associated with the original Spode factory, ceramic worker’s hands have now turned to the walls; writing, decorating, painting, cleaning, and filling with coloured clay slips. 

Day 1 received a steady flow of participants and the hands began to adorn the walls and re-activate the space with ceramic- based activity, encouraging visitor’s to look beyond the exhibition space and explore the building. The project is intended to get people looking at the walls and considering the future of the factory and industry.

Finding areas in need of repair
Some favorite interventions by the public so far

I have been working to fill and paint areas pinpointed for repair, for the duration of the weekend.
13 Ceramic plaques in the form of life-sized ceramic worker’s hands will remain on the walls of the China Hall to highlight repaired surfaces, or those in need of repair.

The images of the ‘Helping hands’ have been printed as paper multiples on a series of 30 limited edition cards to promote ceramic activity beyond the BCB venue. A limited number of ‘Porcelain Pins’ have also been made from offcuts from the ‘Helping Hands’ project - both are available in the BCB shop situated within the China Hall. ‘Porcelain Pins’ will be a continuing project for me from this point forward, so watch this space for more limited edition designs.

Porcelain Pins, and info

BCB shop space, China Hall

Also situated in the Laboratory was   and the Burslem China Painters showcasing traditional china painting techniques. Kay and Diane were really drawn to the hands, as some of them were carrying out the techniques and methods they use. The ‘Helping Hands’ promote the handmade and keeping skills alive, which the Burslem China Painters are all about. It was really nice to see skilled workers hands at work in the space, and handling the paper ‘Helping Hands’. In one of the pictures above, Kay’s hand can be seen placing a decorator’s hand on the wall.

Diane in particular was drawn to the images and chose some of the hands relating to her own skills to copy onto one of her plates and spent the day transferring and painting the outlines in sepia. She intends to paint two plates in two colours using the images. I can’t wait to see the results of a collaboration that came about in the Laboratory. The Burslem China painter’s plates will be on view in the Laboratory for the remainder of the BCB.

Diane designing and painting her 'Helping Hands' plate

I am now all set for day 2 (12pm onwards today) where I will be filling and painting the walls highlighted yesterday, introducing today’s visitors to the project and completing the designs on the porcelain plaques which will remain in-situ for the remainder of the BCB.