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(Photo by Bernard G Mills, 2011)

Wednesday, 24 August ~ Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Permanent Project on the South Balcony and in Mr Willett’s Popular Pottery Gallery, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Open Tuesday ~ Sunday, 10.00am ~ 5.00pm
Closed Monday (except Monday 29 August 10.00am ~ 5.00pm)
Admission FREE

Artist’s talk and tour of exhibition on Sunday, 30 October, 3.00 ~ 4.00pm

Permanent in partnership with Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is pleased to present Relic, an exhibition of new works by acclaimed ceramics artist Neil Brownsword.

Assuming the role of artist-archaeologist, Brownsword explores the legacy of the ceramics industry and effects of global capitalism on the local economy of his hometown Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, the home of British ceramics manufacture for nearly three centuries.

The Willett Collection of Popular Pottery, held at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, is a unique collection of some 2000 pieces, many made in Staffordshire, that illustrate British social and political history from c.1600-1900. Its collector, Henry Willett (1823-1903) believed that “the history of a country may be traced on its homely pottery” and his Collection is grouped into 23 eccentric themes that include: Crime; Conviviality and Teetotalism; Domestic Incidents; Field Sports; Philanthropy; Royalty and Loyalty; and Scripture History.

If the Willett Collection encapsulates the rise and peak of ceramics manufacture in Britain, recent years have seen the iconic factories of the Potteries abandoned, fall into dereliction and demolished, with much remaining production being outsourced to the Far East. Having been an apprentice at the Wedgwood factory at the age of sixteen, Brownsword has a first-hand understanding of this recent history and his new works include appropriated and modified materials found in these abandoned factories.

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(Photo by Bernard G Mills, 2011)

Ornaments and trinkets have been re-fired, fused together and transformed; abandoned workbenches with their traces of process have been relocated. Relic is a testament to the biographies and vanishing skills of a once thriving industry that has fallen into rapid decline.

“And if, in the revolutions of time and events, a country should be found whose Porcelain and Earthenware are vended on cheaper terms than those of the Potteries of Britain … thither will flock all the Earthenware Dealers; and neither fleets, nor armies, nor any other human power, would prevent the present flourishing Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent sharing the fate of its once proud predecessors in Phoenicia, in Greece, and in Italy.”
Simeon Shaw, The Chemistry of Pottery (1837) p.535


A publication featuring essays by David Whiting and Ethan Lasser and designed by Alex Rich accompanies the exhibition.
Purchase a copy of Relic by Neil Brownsword for £10.00.

Neil Brownsword_web1

(Photo by Bernard G Mills, 2011)

Link to interview with Neil Brownsword in

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Entrance in Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton BN1 1EE
03000 290900
Wheelchair accessible, wheelchairs available, accessible toilet, baby changing facilities, passenger lift
Gift shop, cafe