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.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Site specific work in progress in an abandoned paint factory

We decided upon an abandoned place in an ruinous state where we could work uninterrupted, to try out methods, concepts and materials in a direct response to a site. It was intense work for two weeks, in the cold and limited daylight of february. We made an opportunity for others to come over to see our works in progress and have a discussion about out them. 

It was a chance to get into working mode before the second part of the Stoke Project.

I wanted to use the time in this space to develop strategies of site specific works. It is a very different experience to work out side with much harder physical conditions than inside in the studio. If you just can keep warm for two hours and if the clay freezes over after half an hour that of cause affects the work and you have to find ways to work around it. I used materials on site to be part of my interventions which also pushed and shaped the work in more than just the obvious, physical way.


Ruins are an ongoing process, nothing is today as it was yesterday, and it won´t be the same tomorrow. It is a natural process where nature or man keep layering on top of each other, dust, leaves, trash, spray paint etc. I attempted to highlight that gradual transition by either adding to or taking away from a structure, to build up or clean away the layers, to dramatize the dreamlike nature of the change. 

There were three attempts:

In an Paint Factory, using paint as a material has many implications, in the life of this building the focus has shifted from being a producer of paint to being a recipient of it in the form of spray paint. It is a natural growth, gradual growth, as is the accumulation of leaves, plants and trash.

In a ruinous place there are many layers to be found, dust and broken glass cover the floors. The glass shards were cleaned and now shine when the light hits the dusty floor.

Porcelain was laid out on the floor, it picked up, natural pigments, left from another artist, it froze in the frost and a new form of porcelain roses was formed. A porcelain, frostrose desert.

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