Film from Clay Cargo 2014: A Roman archaeology session with Mike Webber

Over the next three weeks, we will be posting films of Clay Cargo activities last summer made by Luke Glover.  The first is of a session we held at the Skip Garden, King’s Cross, with archaeologist Mike Webber.  Mike displayed tens of pieces of Roman ceramic he had found over the years on the Thames Foreshore.  We invited participants to handle these objects and try their hand at various decorative techniques common in Roman, medieval and Tudor times: rouletting, carving and slip trailing.

For those interested in conducting their own search for ceramic fragments on the Foreshore, Mike is leading another Clayground walk on March 22nd.  See below and contact us for further details.

Next Thames Foreshore Archaeological Walk

Date of the next Thames Foreshore walk with archaeologist, Mike Webber, is Sunday 22nd March at 9.15 am.

If you would like to join the walk, please contact us to book a place.  Places go fast and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.  We will be exploring the north bank of the Thames near the City, a site we have visited before.  All directions will be sent on booking.

The £20 cost (payable on the day) goes towards Clayground’s work with young people in London, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent.  Children aged 8 and over are welcome (£15).


Clay Cargo 2014 Collection: the Thames Foreshore

An exhibition of poems and images commissioned as part of Clay Cargo 2014 can be seen until February 15th in Pancras Library, part of the new Camden City Hall, 5 Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG.  The library is open 8am-8pm Monday to Saturday and 11-5 on Sundays.  The associated publication can be obtained by contacting Clayground.

Barry Taylor and Matthew Raw on the Thames

Barry Taylor, poet, and Matthew Raw, artist.

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Clay Cargo 2014 Collection: Saltwells Nature Reserve

Our second location was the pit once quarried by ceramic manufacturer, Henry Doulton (1820-1897) at Saltwells, Dudley, near Birmingham.  Arriving by canal with Ikon’s youth programme, Black Country Voyages, we walked through the woods to the site now a spectacular nature reserve.  We travelled with poet Elisabeth Charis and collected clay and botanical material for artist Rob Kesseler.  Rob works with electron microscopy and has revealed the deeper molecular structure of the clay and plant material gathered.  Elisabeth has written about the canals, the pit, clay’s ancient origins and qualities.  Here are glimpses of their work.


CLAY WITH DIATOM: clay sample with a Marine pennate diatom frustule. Diatoms are unicellular phytoplankton enclosed within a cell wall made of silica. Magnification 8000x, hand coloured SEM micrograph, Rob Kesseler 2014.

Elisabeth Charis at Saltwells

Elisabeth Charis, poet, at Saltwells

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Clay Cargo 2014 Collection: Stoke-on-Trent

We started the Clay Cargo 2014 journey with a visit to Stoke-on-Trent with poet Rachel Long and artist David Binns. Delving under the surface of the Canal at Middleport, the home of Burleigh pottery, we retrieved ceramic fragments dropped during loading of barges; we visited the pottery itself and another, Steelite International.  David has created new material out of the found fragments, embedding history in his architectural ceramics.  This piece is called Metamorphosism: the act of altering the appearance and structure of pre-existing minerals through the action of heat.

Rachel Long, poet, and David Binns, artist in Stoke

Rachel Long, poet, and David Binns, artist in Stoke

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Latest finds on the Thames Foreshore


Clayground’s current project, Clay Cargo 2014: London to Stoke via Birmingham, renews links between ceramics and the waterways today.  Archaeologist, Mike Webber, calls on his encyclopaedic knowledge of London and the river to illuminate the city’s trading history through ceramic fragments turned up by the tide.  Amongst the spectacular finds during our walk on September 27th there was a significant piece from the rim of a Roman mortarium and a piece of medieval jug handle. Continue reading

CLAY CARGO 2014: digging deeper into clay, canals and waterways

Clay Cargo takes inspiration from Josiah Wedgwood’s pioneering role in establishing the canals.  It sets out to renew the historic links between ceramics and the canal system by staging clay workshops on boats and canalside locations in three cities: London, Birmingham and Stoke on Trent.  This year we have also commissioned poets and ceramic artists to respond to each site.  The results will appear in a publication and exhibition from late November in the new Camden City Hall from late November with images and words from our adventures along the waterways from the Thames to Stoke on Trent. Continue reading

Clayground at the RIBA’s Love Architecture Festival, Birmingham

On 21 and 22 June, Clayground Collective led Materialise at Oozells Square, Birmingham with Ikon Gallery.  Members of the public created a giant cityscape in clay over two days as part of RIBA’s Love Architecture Festival (20–29 June). Photos: Martin Mence.DSC_0736

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Clayground/Project Phakama Bursary Award News

In May 2012, Clayground Collective teamed up with International Youth Performance organisation, Project Phakama, to hold an auction to raise funds for a bursary for a Phakama student to study ceramics. Thank you to all those who contributed items and stories to enable a student to study ceramics who otherwise would not have had the chance to do so.

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