A new ceramic exhibit by Neil Brownsword, ‘Relic’, is now on display at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, as part of the Whitegold Festival projects in St Austell.

Professor Neil Brownsword won the Quartz Award for St Austell’s Whitegold International Ceramic Prize in 2019. ‘Relic’ is one of a series of works, featuring an arrangement of porcelain flowers on the floor of the pan kiln at Wheal Martyn.

The artwork explores the relationship between the industrial mining histories of St Austell and North Staffordshire, which are connected through the transformation of china clay into ceramics. Five years of research preceded the installation at Wheal Martyn, during which Neil archived Stoke-on-Trent based Rita Floyd’s astonishing skills in making china flowers by hand - an ‘endangered’ method.

The artwork’s individual petals and mounds of discarded flowers are reminiscent of local sky tips, and are metaphors for industrial loss and the need to sustain traditional craft practices.

Jo Moore, Curator at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, said:

“We are delighted to be hosting Neil’s installation here at Wheal Martyn. The location he has chosen for his work to be displayed is very special – a large Victorian industrial space where clay was dried, the original tiled floor of which creates a dramatic backdrop for the pure white ceramic artwork. The changing light flooding into the space, through the gaps in the walls where clay from the settling tanks would have come in, makes the installation a constantly-changing visual feast. Stunning!”

This commission has been kindly supported by Imerys, Staffordshire University, Spode Museum Trust and Valentine Clays. The Whitegold International Ceramic Prize is an Austell Project intiative curated by Dr. Katie Bunnell, designed to bring ceramic artists from around the world to St Austell’s clay country.

‘Relic’ will be launched at the Whitegold Festival on the 19th September at Wheal Martyn, as will ‘Taskscape’, a film and object installation at White River Place, the main retail centre in St Austell.

To see the exhibit at Wheal Martyn, please pre-book a timed slot.

All photos are credited to James Darling Photography.

Austell Project

Whitegold Project