Topographies of the Obsolete is an artistic research project that focuses on the closed Spode Works in Stoke-on-Trent, UK.

The first workshop Resurrecting the Obsolete took place in September 2012 in the Spode Factory, Stoke on Trent, UK organized by Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway (KHiB).

KHiB was invited as a Research Fellow Partner Institution by the British Ceramics Biennial 2013 and the first workshop included 33 staff and students from KHiB, The Royal Academy of Art Copenhagen, Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel, Sheffield Hallam Univerisity, University of Nottingham Trent and invited alumni/artists from KHiB. Together we explored the Spode site’s histories, industrial space and infrastructure.

The workshops have uncovered a variety of methods and strategies exploring the complexity of the site from different perspectives and practices particular to each of the artists/students involved. We had a great variation of expressions ranging from the performative intervention based to installation and object based work.

The second of the research residency took place in March 2013 as the artistic research project Topographies of the Obsolete. The third workshop takes place in August 2013.

In September a number of participants from the research project will present their works during the British Ceramics Biennial 2013.

This site will act as a meeting point for participants and others interested in our progress.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Katherine Hayward

My current work has been focusing on scale and material combinations that cause tension and intrigue for the viewer. I am interested in what happens when materials come together especially between ceramics and inflatable’s. I am really interested in movement and have been exploring this through inflatable sculptures and am now beginning to bring them together with the ceramic work.

"Stretch 1" Katherine Hayward,
3 Pedestal fans, 4 rings with concrete bases, 4 inflated wind-gloves
Interim Exhibition, Newcastle, December 2012

Katherine Hayward
Ceramic pieces and Inflatable PVC
 bed. Test piece 1 and Test piece 2. 
Tic Space, Newcastle University, February 2013

My work began from an idea I had in Belgium whilst on Erasmus (January - July 2012), where I started to notice how small I was. I began looking at ways of how I could become taller and these ideas developed into the body of work I called "The Prototypes" (  I created quite large sized works whilst I was away, trying to almost scale up to the city and prove myself to my new surroundings and peers.

"The Prototypes"  Katherine Hayward,
June 2012,
Group Exhibition "MULTIKULT"
Huset, Gent, Belgium
Drawing and collage has become a fundamental part of my work, allowing me to get my ideas down and out of my head and help visualise what installations or sculptures will look like.

 Selection of Drawings and Collage, Katherine Hayward, 2012-13 

Space drawings

In a week I am going back to England but I have been trying to revisit Spode already by looking at photographs.

Here is the main work i did during our workshop in September. I am interested in maps, oblique strategies and tactility  In this work I layered an old map of a heating proposal that I found in the factory, on to the actual room. I draw the lines from the map in scale 1:1 as if projected from above with electrical tape. This started of a whole new body of work which I call space drawings.

I worked with details to draw attention to the room itself.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Morten Modin

words, reflections:

-transportation--> narrow boats along the train line, city asleep, -Jean Baudrillard, simulacra and simulacrum = simulated reality?
-computertraces - digital past, Order of things (Michel Foucault) --> fragile objects
-The trust in our knowledge of realism might be out of place when working in areas where you do not even know what kind of past that really has been taking place... -communication with Stoke <-> workshop#/&%?


Past works that relates to new ideas for Spode:


Friday, 22 February 2013

Iona Dunsire

I make reduced functional sculptures with industrial modern materials, focusing on creating lines to confront the viewer. 

Past Work:

 'Die da ist mit der da da und der da ist mit dem da da und die da war mit der da da', Merano, Italy Exhibition 2012. Academy of Fine Art Munster, Professor Maik And Dirk Lobberts Class.

Merano Exhibition Piece
'Finding Art’ 
 By Iona Dunsire
Two A4 Screen Prints

A series of reduced concentrated maps of the centre of Merano followed by images of a ground installation, creating a life scale map.  These peices marked and confirmed the location of the exhibition with a red dot, directing the publics attention and interaction.  

Merano Exhibition Installation
'Finding Art’
By Iona Dunsire
Self-adhesive plastic covering

Interim Exhibition, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2012

Interim Exhibition Installation
'Shape within a shape within a shape'
By Iona Dunsire
1m x 1m steel light box

Reflecting the idea of the non- existant, man- made creation that is Line. Used to understand and explain a shape but in its existence takes on qualities independent from it.  

'Hold Tight' Exhibition, Eldon Garden, Newcastle Upon Tyne 2013.

Hold Tight exhibition installation
'Arrow Benches' 
By Iona Dunsire
Wood, Steel, Resin  

The Arrow Benches point  the viewer around the room in an unsubtle yet playful manner.  
Through their chosen form and placement invisible lines are created  drawing connections between the viewer,  the piece and other works exhibited in the space. 


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Future Ruins.

Here is an open call for submissions for exhibition here in Bergen. It might be interesting for some/all of us. Looking for works in art, architecture and design.

"Announcing an upcoming exhibition FUTURE RUINS: Obsolescence & Inoperativity from May 23-25, 2013 at the Bergen Arkitektskole (BAS) in Bergen, Norway."

To read more see link below:

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Creative destruction

I placed a throwing wheel in one end of the big China hall and began throwing. I tried out different shapes and ways of placing and dropping the thrown objects on the floor.

The performance became about the skill and act of creating which was in strong contrast to the space and its enormous size and emptiness.


 Throughout the period I was focusing on myself as an artist and my capacity of bringing life into the site. Having the site’s history in mind I tried to be open to the place and its potential possibilities that would not necessarily connect to the former production of ceramics.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Richard Launder ROUTEMASTER: Spode Office

Resurrecting the Obsolete
Research Residency 1.


                                                              Age of Enlightenment

Starting Strategies (Sept. 8 - 18th 2012): enacted upon simultaneously (especially days 1 and 2):
·      assemble all movables which mutely appeal, make note of others not so easy to move (photo document, write in register)
·      Physically walk thro the buildings and roads, try to get lost and assemble a mind-map of these (photo document, write in register)
·      Oblique strategy: enter every unlocked door (we were told that we could enter all doors that were open: in relation to security risk), enter and move onward until stopped, retrace steps, start again.
These Situationist approach’s gave a speedy accumulation of site knowledge - the physical buildings, spaces, levels, inside/outside and importantly, via the collecting, moving, testing and the observation involved: an overview about the former employees together with their particular professional areas, jobs, skills and even some individual personal aspects (of which, more later) Enabling a psycho-geographic reading.

Procedural Strategies: while simultaneously continuing the above, though to a lesser degree:
·      Locate a variety of spaces/objects which ‘push back’ and speak: the emotive atmosphere of pressure/deadlines, movement, physical work/wear & tear, tools, plans/maps, reports, unfinished ceramics
·      Particular atmospheres I was stimulated to find: focused concentration, traces of time passing, dereliction, threads of connections (internal and external)
·      Hold in mind certain issues: ‘Paths of Desire’, ruins, walking, archives, psycho-geographies, create rules, Destruction Art,
·      Start to work with these empirically/intuitively articulating the spaces, the movable materials, background narratives/knowledge gained
·      Be open to: performative/video, sculptural, installation, /sculpture, photographic, text possibilities and combinations
By journeying through these I came to proceed with a group of potential projects which developed in parallel, and often in conversation with each other; they all moved along at different speeds some clearly needing a lot more time/concentration, others arriving fairly effortlessly - nice when that happens.

Research Residency 2: 9 - 19 March 2013


ROUTEMASTER´S Desktop, Walks & Maps

Umbrella title for a group of interrelated works conceptualised, produced & curated from the ROUTEMASTER: Spode Office, a physical space, extant Sept. 2013 - Dec. 2013? (Distribution to be negotiated)

·      A contextualised ‘viewing space’ - an office which it is possible to view into from 4 sides (goldfish bowl like) it becomes a performative installation, with a potential for guided (limited numbers) audience to enter and potentially interact (in direct opposition to both the history of the site) From this HQ, other works are conducted - the balance between fictive and real office is resolved by the 2 desks inherited in the room.                                            The room was staged (originally in Sept. 2012) to convey an atmosphere of competence, confrontation, on the brink of dis-function/chaos; a maximallist approach to intense detail, placing layers of suggested narrative, potential past/future/present actions/events and the files, plans, maps, tools/equipment (individually doctored), samples, reports, personal items...which are their alibis.  After a year of occupancy, a new layer of dust, light markings/fadings, together with evidence of recent activities will become part of the accretion.                                      ROUTEMASTER: Spode Office:  title, came about by being asked directly by Julia Collura (collaborative partner for a performance work): who’s room is this? What is this person doing? What is the character of the person whose office this is?                                                             Staging /performance texts/sketches, Julia & I will have time on-site in March to run thro some of our collaborative concepts (sound: the old AEOLIAN grand piano/costume/progression of site - the potential of a ‘processing audience’)                                                                                                                              Location: office, originally the heart of the factory: technical personnel, those who found solutions/kept production rolling; 1st floor of 1950´s Designers block.   

 ROUTEMASTER: Spode Office: a selection of curated on-going works:

·      White on White: performative place/performing objects: partially finished ceramic plates performing.  Needs:  editing, staging texts developing sound recordings, more filming on site, further investigating access to the top round window (via a trapdoor)                                                                                                     Location: main arterial road connecting the old front of factory (admin. /sales/museum) to the various production areas, Designers block, 1950´s functionalist building; all brickwork painted matt white, plates are matt white.

                                             White on White: performance video still

·      Topography of  Routemaster´s desktop and Walks:  A found partial plan of the site with a circle marked out, no information about why. Use to investigate the circle as a derive, attempt to walk it through the labyrinth site (rule: follow the circle as closely as possible, only enter through open doors) Map this out using various tools/materials on a large scale full plan of the factory (found), placed on the Routemaster´s desk- leave as evidence of activity (frozen in time). Needs: Allocate time for further walking and collecting approaches: investigate sound recording/ register opportunities.

                                                                  Paths of Desire

·      bone to bones: a performing story of material and manufacture involving ruin/climate-erosion/decay: nature; contra protection/ shelter/refinement: civilisation; in relation and as comment to the contemporary economic and political position of materialist/consumer culture. A noble savage for our times? From a quasi archeologic/geologic/construction site position.                                                     Proposed scale: two square floor areas covered by an echo of galvanised corrugated roofing. (Approx. 2 m x 2m)  with guttering exchanging the rain & leak waters.  Installation to be constructed in March, then needs to be left in-situ to weather until the biennial. Documentation during erosion process, footage may become a video. Location: leaking roof is located and a pipeline route to the nearby outside courtyard area.                                                                                              


Monday, 11 February 2013

Trying to make the best of it.

To me the Spode factory is like an old friend or relative, not just a random factory, it's special. It has led a long and full life and if it had not been for us, the humans who have developed a certain relationship to it, it wouldn't mind to just die in peace. It is we who want it to get better, we hold on and try to clean up what we can while the factory is getting dirtier and weaker by the day. We want it to give us more, to tell us more stories about when it was young, about all the people it has known, but the factory is just a factory. 

It's clear no one will ever be able to save it, maybe give some parts of it a facelift, but it won't be the same. 

Works from the factory september 2012:

Ceramic tiles/cut-up decals from site.

Works from Rom8 in Bergen, October 2012:

Bone china from site/Limoges porcelain/self-made decals

Anne Stinessen