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National Treasure. Exhibited in - The Precious Clay, Museum of Royal Worcester, 2019

BROWNSWORD, Neil (2018) National Treasure. Exhibited in - The Precious Clay, Museum of Royal Worcester, 2019. [Artefact]

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Abstract or description

Dissemination context:
The Precious Clay curated by Meadow Arts and the Museum of Royal Worcester, examines why and how contemporary artists choose to use porcelain in new ways, through displays and interventions into the Museum’s ceramic collection. Brownsword was invited to exhibit his work National Treasure, which included a looped film (2014) 15 mins and 49 secs; three platters (2015- 2016) painted with images of North Staffordshire’s post-industrial transition. A live performance by ex-industry artisan Anthony Challiner also activated the work during the After Dark event of the 9th January 2019

Other exhibiting artists included: Laura White, Emily Speed, Annie Attridge, Barnaby Barford, Bouke de Vries, Céline Berger, Christine Borland, Clare Twomey, Edmund de Waal, Edward Chell, Fernando Casasempere, Jessica Harrison, Leonora Lockhart, Livia Marin, Matteo Nasini, Mona Hatoum, Rachel Kneebone and Rosa Nguyen.

Item Type: Artefact
Additional Information: National Treasure (artefact) National Treasure introduced new critical insights into aspects of skill displacement following the aftermath of decades of deindustrialisation in North Staffordshire’s ceramic sector. It examines shifts in production from the ‘shop floor’ to the factory tourism model, through an innovative combination of live performance, installation, social practice, film and artefact that ‘bring the traditions of the [ceramics] field into a new category of experience’. Brownsword’s parody of this ‘artisan on display’ format, critiques how the parade of ‘indigenous’ artisanal craft from the visitor centre experience, obscures the realities of profit first strategies of mass-automation and global outsourcing. Ex-industry China painters were employed by Brownsword to follow the genre of the romantic ruin commonly depicted in 18th century British ceramics. Painting on the backs of discarded platters found at former historic sites of production, with images that documented Stoke-on-Trent’s post-industrial fallout offered a new perspective to social realism within ceramic practice. By incorporating the dynamics of hired labour, National Treasure offered an innovative method to elevate and disseminate the endangered practices of a rapidly disappearing culture of labour. The work also explored the ethical implications of appropriating people and their skill as a raw material – a subject relatively absent in contemporary ceramic practice. Exhibition text: National Treasure is an explicit expression of respect for industrial labour and skill as a still relevant past. Turning a video camera on china painter Tony Challiner, a craftsman with over five decades of experience, Brownsword rescues skill from our amnesiac collective mind, proving the timeless value of the hand. The title reinforces this idea, but also explicitly refers to the east, to Japan and Korea where craftspeople are considered patrimony (a kind of inheritance to be passed down through the generations). Hiring Challiner himself, Brownsword choreographed a performance of remembering and re-enactment in the derelict Josiah Spode factory. The images of ruined industrial sites painted on the reverse side of the plates are poignant but not nostalgic, they are literally snapshots of an economic transition following the displacement of a traditional industry.
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Art and Design
Event Title: The Precious Clay: Porcelain in Contemporary Art
Event Location: Museum of Royal Worcester, Severn St, Worcester, Worcestershire, WR1 2ND
Event Dates: 20 Sept 2018 – 20 Mar 2019
Depositing User: Neil BROWNSWORD
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2019 13:42
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:54

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