Ready the trumpets. I have recently been approved as a permanent studio holder at Spike Island, which means I am now dusting my desk for tonight’s launch of the Spike Island Open 2014.
If you want to explore this former Brooke Bond tea packing factory after hours, poke a nose into a painter’s studio or ask a performance artist what they do with their days, you should come.
Marko Wilkinson, who shares Studio 82 with me is currently installing a camp fire and a one-man tent and a one-man-sized flatscreen erected in the middle of the studio. And if this isn’t enough to have you pitching up tonight, have a look at the weekend’s brochure.
I have set up a temporary library of poetry magazines, pamphlets and artist’s books, alongside stoc, which takes visitors along the balcony corridor and displaces the chatter and clatter of the Aynsley China factory to the corner of my studio.
The work was originally installed in the original Spode Factory site for the British Ceramics Biennial 2013 and is still tightly tied to Stoke as a place (or places) and the ceramics industry that sometimes manages to exploit and elide these same places. The plates displayed in my studio (above) are from Spode’s ‘Stafford Flowers’ range, made in ‘Staffordshire’ but manufactured both elsewhere and separately; the small plate in India, the larger in Thailand. In its original placement, stoc occupied the dead spaces in a derelict factory: air vents, damaged ware benches, storage cases where the gilded plates had been abandoned after the factory’s closure.
Transferred now to the bright corridors of the balcony studios, stoc starts looks a little more like a chintzy china shop. Perhaps I am enjoying this transformation more than I had anticipated. Perhaps I will host a tea party or two. If I do, here’s your invitation: