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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

Middleport 2

Middleport 8Middleport 16

Rachel Long’s Collection for Clayground calls on different writing styles in response to visiting Stoke for the first time. Here is just one of her pieces.

Some Definitions from a Victorian Pottery

Clay:  1.    Of earth, of us.
– can be baked like a birthday cake, fired like an employee.
2.   A European moth with yellowish-brown wings.
Coal:  The Ying to clay’s Yang.
Smoke:  Black. However high it is blown, it will always come back down.
Bricks:   Black. Never painted rust in a Stoke schoolboy’s picture of home.
Old Porter’s Lodge: Twice, and you’d be sacked. Likely starve if you didn’t move to the next town.
Factory floor:  Ground zero.
Factory ceiling: Peeling egg shell.
Ceiling hooks: The air has hanged itself. No note left.
Ladders:  White steps leading to a head-height heaven.
Screws:  Hanging a still life of the wall behind it.
Original Steam Engine:  In a boiler room. Adamant it will work again soon.
Compressor: An iron lung on wheels.
Tunnels: Like looking inside a pastry roll before the sausage.
10%: Shrinkage.
Bottle Oven: Do not fill with wine. Pour honey in if you must, could also fool a bee into its hive.
Master mould: King Pin/Queen Bee.
Working mould: Proletariat. Will work up until 70 (teapots)
Skip:  A holocaust of moulds.
Slip:  No mistake.
Clay pipes: Exposed veins
‘Jigga’ and Jollier: Local rappers.
Glaze slop: Poison is pig-pink, colour of a girl child’s dream.
John: Last Burleigh master Mouldmaker. Retiring to Spain in sixteen months.
Apprentice: None. ‘This is the problem.’
Funeral teapot: Enough being made for us all.


To see Clayground, Rachel and David in action at Middleport, go to the video page of our website and scroll down to watch.

If you would like a copy of the publication and to see poems and images in full, please contact Clayground.  The 50 page publication is £8 plus postage.

Clay Cargo is made possible by our partners, including:

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