You might be seeing some of this in Winton Square soon…
I suppose I should tell you a little about the work?
This has been inspired mainly by the reactions I’ve heard to the statue of Josiah Wedgwood. Some people feel that he is a great symbol of Stoke-on-Trent and its industrial heritage. Others are less glowing in their reports of his affect on the City - ‘he sold us out’ was one particularly strong response, referring to the collapse of the industry and closure of many potteries. Was Wedgwood himself to blame for this? It could be argued that the systems and business models he put in place paved the way for the ever-more cost-saving exercises utilised in the industry. Whether he foresaw this - and welcomed it - is another matter.
The platform gives people the opportunity to stand eye-to-eye with Wedgwood. If you like and/or revere him it will give you the chance to get closer to him. If you don’t like him it will place you both on the same level, as opposed to him being on a pedestal and you having to look up to him (and him looking down on you).
It is my intention that the deck behind the statue will be made into a pleasant place to sit - with seating and maybe some planting?
First peek at what my work might look like in Winton Square.
Yesterday’s Drop-in Desk got off to a slow start but eventually picked up and we got some good responses.
Gemma Thomas being interviewed by Maffi at the Drop-in Desk.
We got some really good drawings of things people would like to see in the square:
We also got some interesting responses to the questionnaire:
- How do you feel about the statue of Josiah Wedgwood?
‘He sold us out, why should we honour him?’
‘Proud that he lead an industry that made Stoke-on-Trent famous.’
‘Not really spent time looking at it, but I think it’s not really attractive.’
‘It is a good monument of Stoke heritage, for people coming out of the station to immediately see.’
‘Great statue, perfectly reflects the contribution the man made to his industry, the canal, and local area.’
People generally seemed to feel that the square could be a nicer place if the traffic were less busy. It only seems to be used as a place to pass through on the way to the station or the hotel.
If you would like to take part please download the questionnaire here and post your answers in the comments section, and download my Winton Square Doodle sheets here, draw your ideas and then email images back to me. Be as wild as you like.
Below are some sketches I did while sitting at the Drop-in Desk.
This Thursday (28th July) I’ll be in Winton Square, sitting behind a desk, with questionnaires, a handout about the project and activity sheets for you to scribble all over. It will probably kick off at about 2pm and go on until around 5pm. Come along and share your stories and opinions of the square.
Last Wednesday I went on the UniQ treasure hunt and followed a route from Stoke College, down to the station and Winton Square, then back up Boughy Road, through Hanley Park and back to the College. On the way I had to keep my eyes open for the answers to various cryptic clues we were given. It was fun and educational, and I also managed not to get rained on. Unfortunately I didn’t win though.
On Tues (19th July) I’m giving a talk about how I work at the Activity Space, Staffordshire University, from 4pm - followed by (weather permitting) a fact and fiction gathering workshop in Winton Square.
- Do you have a story about Winton Square?
- Do you have a memory of something interesting that happened there?
- Perhaps there is something you feel should be done to the square?
Book your free place here.
Place, Space and Identity 3 launched on Friday. I had some good chats about my work and my project with people in Bethesda Chapel.
I’m going to be working in Winton Square. The main reaction I got when telling people this was ‘where’s that?’ It’s just outside the train station and opposite the North Staffordshire Hotel. It has a statue of Josiah Wedgwood in the middle of it.
So I think my mission is currently going to be to put Winton Square on the map - to make it a place that people know of, and perhaps want to visit for itself - not just because they’ve got a train to catch.
Place, Space and Identity 3 launches tomorrow at 4pm in the wonderful setting of Bethesda Chapel, Junction of Albion Street and Bethesda Street, City Centre (Hanley), Stoke-on-Trent.
All of the artists will be on hand to talk about their work and explain a little about their plans for the next few months.
I hope to see you there.