As part of the Pararchive project, I, with my colleagues in CARBON Imagineering, visited Stoke on a number of occasions, to work with a group of volunteers. This story covers our first trip, and the things we learned.
Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent
Our first trip to Stoke-on-Trent was on 27th November, 2013. It was very cold, but I was intrigued to find out what The Potteries held in store for us. Myself, Tom Morgan and Imran Ali arrived for lunch at the café in Gladstone Pottery Museum.
The first surprise of the day, was that a member of the group we were meeting was an old university lecturer of mine – Phil Rawle. I hadn't seen him in well over ten years, so that was great. He taught me during my time studying graphic design at University of Derby. So no pressure on the final outcome of the project, then!
Original iMac, designed by Jonathan Ive
We had an interesting discussion about the aims of the project, and also the history of Stoke. It's yet another example of a British city, which had a globally influential industrial base (ceramics), which has declined over the last few decades, and is looking to recover some of its former glory. There was discussion over the fact Stoke has significant and surprising stories under its belt. For example, Apple's chief of design, Jonathan Ive, used to have Stoke-based company Ideal Standard as a client, early in his career!
Chimney at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stone-on-Trent
We then went on a tour of the pottery museum. It's a really nice place, giving you a great feel for the heritage of the place.
Tools at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent
Description of bone china
I also learned some new words, like blunger and pugmill – which sounded to me like something from a Roald Dahl book.
Description of a pugmill
Me, learning how to use a potters wheel, at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent
I also tried my hand at making a pot, with a potters wheel. Not very successful. Luckily, someone was on-hand to give some expert help!
The final part of our visit was at the CoRE college building, where we met interested parties who were keen to share their stories about Stoke, and learn more about the project. We learned lots about the history, as well as the hoped-for future, of Stoke, and left that day, excited to continue the project.