18 days since I started work on the Spode Works residency. For 15 of those days I have done work related to it. A total of 50 hours so far. £16 per hour as it stands. What do I have to show for it?
By far the greatest use of my time here has been in conversation (21 hours). This has included talking to studio holders, other site users and workers. Conversations range from discussions about people and their work, their perceptions of art and industry- the relationship of their work to those who would have traditionally worked here. About philosophy, class, usefulness, ownership, parking, skills, loss, piecework, the future, the past, money, unions, craft, fine art, equality and Henry VIII, amongst many other things. It has been quite overwhelming and a real task for me to put this information into some coherent representation of the milieu around Spode at the moment.
The second biggest use of my time has been creating. I felt that the best way to learn about the Spode studios was to immerse myself in some creative activity and allow that process to lead me into conversations and collaborations with people on the site. This seems to be happening quite naturally for other Spode Works users within and outside the studios.
I decided to experiment with technique- having never worked from a studio before I was keen to use the space to its full advantage and delve into the ‘print’ aspect of the original brief (Spode ware was decorated using a copper plate printing technique, which the brief asked me to reference in the work). I have spent 15 hours on this (and a few other creative endeavours) and collaborated and consulted with several studio artists and visitor centre demonstrators honing a brand new technique utilising traditional processes. I’m incredibly pleased with how this has gone and how generous people have been with their time, materials and skills. If experiments continue being successful you will be able to see the process and the resulting artwork at the final exhibition in January.
At this stage in the project I am ingesting a lot of information and, judging by the hours I’ve been charting over on twitter, I need some time to digest that information and to plan and prep for the next phase; discovering how the rest of the town of Stoke is reacting to creative work in a changing city. If this project could be compared to the ceramic process, using Joe Brennan-Hulme’s wonderful analogy, So far I have been mining the coal, excavating the clay and doing glaze tests.
You can view my entire experience, by the hour over on twitter or on this Storify story across all platforms.