Artist Rosanna Martin and historian Ivor Bowditch will contribute to an evening exploring connections between brick-making and china clay production.
China clay has a vast range of uses, from ceramics to paper and from pharmaceuticals to building materials. It was discovered by William Cookworthy on Tregonning Hill near Helston in 1746 and that discovery led to the establishment of the Tregonning Hill China Clay and Brick Works in the early 1870s. As china clay production moved northwards to the St Austell area, brick making followed.
Rosanna Martin will introduce her Brickfield project, which draws on the heritage of brick making in the region and is based in a disused clay pit in St Austell, using waste materials from the industry. Rosanna aims to reconnect local people with this vast lunar landscape, working with them on site to mix clays, mould and fire bricks. She will be joined by John Osborne, who was the last man to fire the last beehive kiln at the last working brickworks in Cornwall (Wheal Remfry), and who has contributed his skills and experience to the development of the Brickfield project. Ivor Bowditch, founding member of the China Clay History Society, will discuss the wider historical context.
Brickfield builds on a project that took place on the site of an old brickworks at Trelonk on the Fal estuary, organised last year as part of Groundwork. This new iteration is part of Whitegold, an arts and regeneration project in St Austell funded by Coastal Communities.
Dr. Katie Bunnell, co-curator of Whitegold, will provide an introduction to the evening. There will be time for questions and discussions at the end.
The annual Whitegold Festival of Clay takes place in St Austell on Saturday 21 September 2019.
Rosanna Martin is an artist whose sculptural practice is rooted in research, experimentation and manipulation of ceramic materials. She is interested in the ways we interact with the land and recent work is being made in response to the human impact on the landscape in Cornwall. Her work often involves participatory events and alongside her practice she runs Brickworks in Penryn, an educational open access ceramics studio set up to promote and foster creativity in clay.
Ivor Bowditch began working for English China Clays Ltd in 1966 and held the post of Regional Communications and Public Relations Manager between 1984 and 2014, later working in this role for Imerys Minerals Ltd. He is a founding member of the China Clay History Society, set up in 2000 by a small group of volunteers to ensure that the archives of the Devon and Cornwall china clay mining companies were preserved, recorded and made accessible for study, and plays a key role in the recording of oral history.
Dr. Katie Bunnell is a ceramic designer, maker and practitioner-researcher. In her role as co-curator for Whitegold she is convening an International Ceramic Prize and developing collaborations with the British Ceramic Biennale in Stoke-on-Trent.