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24 July/August 2022

LEFT: Possil Pottery Tennent Brewery stoneware beer bottle and promotional label

Shared stories between Scotland and Staffordshire potteries through workers, owners, and ideas exchanged through clay and glaze recipes, form an important part of the exhibition’s narrative. Adverts in the Staffordshire Advertiser, The Pottery Gazette and pieces from the Caledonian and Grosvenor Pottery, attest to this intertwined story. Scottish potteries advertised for and sought out workers from The Potteries to help kick-start the industry north of the border. Frank E. Wedgwood described this historic relationship as ‘brother potters’ in 1926. Indeed, the important links between Stoke-on-Trent’s and Scotland’s potteries are only beginning to be understood.

In light of recent ceramic curator cuts and reduced museum access in Stoke-on-Trent, the importance of understanding this shared contribution to the UK’s ceramic design, production, craft skills and entrepreneurship is even more paramount. It is hoped the exhibition will galvanise more research and attention to this relationship, to fully understand and celebrate the interconnectedness of these parallel industries and Scotland and Staffordshire’s shared clay heritage. A story that traces the rise and fall of the Scottish pottery industry begins a new chapter through this exhibition. GLOBAL CONNECTIONS The number of countries reached by Scotland’s pottery industry and the intercultural links created as a result, span the globe. Communicating to visitors the global reach and historic cultural connections made as a result of Scotland’s pottery industry was a central part of the thinking behind the exhibition. The range of ware produced for export markets is ref lected in the 50 pieces chosen for the displays.

Scottish industrial ceramic designers and manufacturers created export designs that were specifically made to appeal to aspects of their destination country’s national identities and aesthetic sensibilities. For example, designs with contrasting colours including back stamps written in Jawi, the Malay form of Arabic script, were produced for the Malay-speaking Muslim communities of SouthEast Asia. Designs incorporating beavers and maple leaves were made for Canada, with emus and kangaroos for Australian markets. Colourful spongeware was also produced with geometric and fruit motifs for Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

The list of export countries is quite extraordinary, with Scottish pottery manufacturers recognising and responding to gaps in global markets. This creativity, design thinking and entrepreneurship even extended to Tennent Brewery’s ownership of Possil Pottery who supplied bottles for their important Cuban markets with Scotland’s totem ‘T’ stamped on stoneware bottles made in Glasgow and sent to the Caribbean.

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