Our future was forged in our past, or so the optimists of a bygone era believed; a future intended to be built on pottery, ours was a city with a workforce and product that was the envy of the world.
The Bottle Kilns have long since cooled in Stoke on Trent and the people, though proud of their heritage (and rightly so) still lament the loss of their industry.
Pottery was not only our gift to the world, but also our identity. Generations of families worked in the Pot Banks, and countless lifelong friendships were formed. Pottery wasn’t an industry to her people; it was a way of life, and each piece produced here carried a little something of that way of life, within.
There was magic in our clay. No wonder our wares are still so highly sought after.
Although those productive days are long gone, our history is not. We are a proud folk, never boastful nor brash, but we do lack the will to talk positively about our strong points – of which there are many. We are a modest folk at heart.
City of Culture 2021.
This title… it could be ours.
Correction – it should be ours.
The creativity that thrives in this city, then and now, ought – nay demands to be recognised and celebrated. So often we are overlooked, attention instead lavished on those cities deemed more fashionable than ours.
Fashions come and fashions go. By its nature, it is fickle and whimsy, dictated by those far from touch with the pulse of the community.
Heritage remains, as does the pride associated with it, and there is much beauty to be found amidst the history of grime and smoke that our city was founded upon. Ours was a hard working people; a trend which continues to this day, albeit away from the pit and the pot bank.
The culture of our city, though so often starved of air and attention, does not pass and will refuse to die. Back the bid and mark Stoke on Trent as a city of culture; a title it so richly deserves.
By Dan Weatherer in response to “Kiln” by Holly Madew
See “Kiln” and more of Holly’s artwork (and my supporting prose) at ONE ONE SIX Gallery, Stoke on Trent, from 12th – 27th, August 2016.