One of the biggest celebrations of ceramics in the world, the British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) festival is set to return to its spiritual home of Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, from September 11 to October 17.
2021 marks the seventh Biennial, and will also be a year like no other: not only does it offer the opportunity to show that the BCB is back as one of the UK’s flagship cultural events; but it also demonstrates just how ready-and-willing Stoke-on-Trent is to once again host such a high-profile event.
While the Biennial will once again present work from the UK’s leading contemporary ceramic artists in a series of new exhibitions and special events, it will be more focussed on two, main festival sites: the original Spode factory, including the China Hall and Spode Works; and the city centre, including The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, as well as the nearby Airspace gallery.
As ever, the real centrepiece of the festival is its eye-catching AWARD exhibition, within the industrial setting of the Spode China Hall. A mark of its present-day standing, a record 160 ceramic artists applied for the 10 available finalists’ places. Year-on-year, AWARD has been a stunning showcase of experimental and eye-catching work.
Further details of the other shows, exhibitions, events and hands-on activities at the 2021 event will be revealed in the spring.
But, for now, organisers are issuing the reassurance that close connections will be retained with other venues in the city throughout the duration of the Biennial – to project the clear message that Stoke-on-Trent commands a strong international standing thanks to its ceramics industry and heritage, and that these venues are once again open all-year round.
Anyone looking to visit from further afield this year will also find a much improved accommodation base across the city: from the major refurbishment of an hotel on the site of the 1986 National Garden Festival, to the recent opening of a new £20m ‘Hilton Garden Inn’ and an upcoming Courtyard by Marriott, the range and quality of Stoke-on-Trent’s accommodation is changing dramatically – adding to The Potteries’ reputation as a city-break destination that’s “on the up”.