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Taskscape (performance)

BROWNSWORD, Neil (2021) Taskscape (performance). [Artefact]

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Abstract or description

Description
Taskscape (performance) is a work developed for Brownsword's Alchemy and Metamorphosis project (2021) which extended collaborative research with Wheal Martyn Clay Works and the Whitegold International Ceramic Festival.

Abstract
For over two centuries the histories of North Staffordshire and mid-Cornwall have been intertwined through traditional industry surrounding the material culture of clay and ceramics. Both regional landscapes bear the environmental scars of an extractive economy that has financially sustained local communities for generations. Yet in recent decades they have experienced major economic and social transitions due to global competition and the outsourcing of skilled labour. As a result, there exists a general sense of detachment to the historic fabric of these industries which have shaped communities, heritage and the identity of place. Taskscape seeks to explore this ‘entanglement’ of histories and bring to the fore interconnections embedded within regional livelihoods. Methods incorporated field and site research to create a performance that remediates stories of place and a reimagining of obsolete industrial ‘know how’ where associated procedural knowledge was used as a foundation for improvisation.

A five-day performance located in one of Wheal Martyn’s former clay settling tanks was the site for a temporary intervention, through which four tonnes of processed china clay was explored through a variety of material states (wet, dry, plastic). Tools such as moulds and historic profiles, replicated/loaned from the collections of the Spode Museum Trust (an archive testimony to the symbiotic relationships between the histories of Cornish China clay and the manufacture of North Staffordshire bone china), together with implements developed for China clay extraction (e.g. shivers, ladles, and dubbers) were used to interact with the material. The intention was not to achieve a set of predetermined output’s but enter into dialogue with the clay via a series of an unfolding actions. Taskscape aimed to reactivate, interrogate and redefine regional knowledge cultivated by instruction and reconnect communities to the physicality of raw materials, their geological origin and wider cultural context through the use of tools loaded with the histories of manufacture. The work draws upon the social anthropologist Tim Ingold's theories whereby a 'taskscape' remains an active assemblage of human and material actions that intertwine through a constant state of flux.

Complimentary to the performance, research was disseminated via two participatory workshops which reconfigured the traditions of procedural knowledge developed to achieve industrial efficiency and cultural notions of perfection.

Dates of performance: Monday 21st – Thursday 24th June, Saturday 26th June

Item Type: Artefact
Additional Information: Images by James Darling
Faculty: School of Digital, Technologies and Arts > Art and Design
Event Location: Wheal Martyn Clay Works, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 8XG
Depositing User: Neil BROWNSWORD
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2022 11:02
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2022 04:30
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/7157

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