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, 7 March 2013

Danica Maier

The previous workshop in September, Spode I: 'Resurrecting the Obsolete', was a fruitful and productive time, which unexpectedly facilitated a major shift in my practice. Recently my work has followed drawing and the domestic object with a particular interest in stitch, (text)iles, and the decorative; using subtle slippages and moments of detail to transgress propriety. The objects relationship to drawing has increasingly become more pronounced until the object has now taken over and has become the work; which was one of the unexpected outcomes from the first Spode residency. Using understated visual cues image and object(s) appearing as veiled details and suggestive moments; the viewer is required to spend time with the work to encounter these moments of hidden depth. Once seen these subtle transgressions can compel the viewer to think twice about the expected norm they see around them everyday.

Having taken part in the first research residency has given me first hand experience and ideas for developing a larger artistic research project. It helped to developed particular research methods, critical reflection, research strategies and ideas for the production of artefacts for this longer project expanding beyond just the residency.  Since returning from Spode I, I have been working on ideas and possibilities through drawings and the small artefacts I was able to bring back to my studio.

During this upcoming longer, (I could only attend for 3 days in Sept) and more directed residency I will focus on expanding the initial research and experiments. Exploring dualities of material and site I am interested in using site-specific installation to explore ideas of expectations of: site, traditional values, and (women’s) labour. I am interested in manipulating the material and locations expected function and push beyond the original intentions and readings.

Using the site as a starting point, materials and the event of making (with a nod towards Penelopian labour) all work towards a collapse; of historical time through nostalgia for a past that never existed; contradictions of the everyday; and subtle interventions in unexpected locations. I plan to concentrate on the abandoned ceramic decals, ceramic’s pieces and their negatives (the mould) to create sculptures and large-scale installations.

Developing from works assembled during the first residency, I will be working on larger and more complex installation as well as discreet sculptures. These works will incorporate stacks and laid out (created) patterns of 100’s (to 1000’s) of decals as well as incorporating redundant ceramics and moulds from the site. I will also be experimenting with (text)-drawings, using the ceramic decorative patterns from Spode as starting points to create small works, akin to embroidery, that will be hidden amongst {or hidden in plan sight} the decals. 

Spode I: Research / experiments 2012

English Pointer encased by Coffee Saucer  2012

Pink Acorn 2012

Black Lab with Ogee Wave 2012

Lausanne Pheasant 2012

Cottontail Sauce Boat 2012

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