The Staffordshire Potteries, England
This month’s ArtSmart Roundtable topic is a Favorite Art and Travel Experience. Be sure to scroll down for links to other Roundtable members’ posts and perspectives.
One of the trips I’ve enjoyed most was to the Staffordshire Potteries in the UK. The Staffordshire Potteries are centered around Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England. Once the industrial heart of England, much of the area now has a rural feel with over 30 pottery-related sites snugged in a pretty landscape.
Though I was there in sleet-dashed February, my memories are warm: fun and friendly people dedicated to keeping the region’s legacy alive, cozy fireside meals in a medieval moathouse, a sense of wonder that such beauty and invention could take place where, for much of history, mere survival would have been miracle enough.
Rainsoaked, mud-filled hills. Cold ground, you’d think, for big dreams. Nevertheless the Potteries became a world centre of ceramic production in the 17th century due to local availability of coal, lead, salt and clay. With imagination and perseverance, these rough materials were transformed into objects both useful and beautiful.
One of the greatest innovators in British pottery was Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795). A fourth generation potter, fatherless at 9, Wedgwood experimented tirelessly to develop new types of pottery (the famous Queen’s Ware, Jasper Ware and more), industrialized the production of pottery, created new methods of marketing and worked to improve local roads, canals and working conditions. Eventually, the family’s money and interest in geology and natural history would fuel Josiah’s grandson Charles Darwin’s pursuit of the origin of species and theories of evolution.
The Stoke/Stafford area is a true adventure in art and history. I’d love to return and wouldn’t hesitate to go in winter. Staffordshire’s twin fires of hospitality and creativity are well ‘stoked’ and provide ample warmth any time of year.
The Potteries – Fascinating photo archive about the Potteries’ technology and history.
Staffordshire Tourism - Home to the Potteries, the National Forest, the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and more.
Visit Stoke-on-Trent – Less than 2 hours by train from London, Stoke-on-Trent is the world capital of the pottery industry, home to the Wedgwood Museum, Royal Doulton, Portmeirion, Moorcroft, Aynsley and dozens of pottery sites and attractions.
In Toronto, learn more about English pottery and china at the Gardiner Museum, home to 11,000 years of ceramic art.
The ArtSmart Roundtable is a group of bloggers with a double passion for travel and art. On the first Monday of the month, each member of the Roundtable publishes a post on that month’s chosen topic.
Christina, Daydream Tourist: The Keeper of the Castle http://daydreamtourist.com/2012/12/03/keeper-of-the-castle/
Jeff, Eurotravelogue: Unforgettable Moments at the Vatican http://www.eurotravelogue.com/2012/12/Visiting-the-Vatican-in-Rome.html
Erin, A Sense of Place: How Ireland Brought Me to the Basilica of San Clemente http://www.a-sense-of-place.com/?p=3160
Leslie, CG Travels: Fresco Feelings in Milan http://cgtravelsblog.com/2012/12/04/artsmart-roundtable-fresco-feelings/
Jenna, This is my Happiness: on Art and Travel http://thisismyhappiness.com/2012/12/05/art-and-travel/