Neil Brownsword - National Treasure

Ceramic, looped film, performance with Anthony Challiner, 2015-16. Courtesy the artist.

Neil Brownsword - National Treasure

Film still, courtesy the artist.

Neil Brownsword - National Treasure

Ceramic, looped film, performance with Anthony Challiner, 2015-16. Courtesy the artist.

Neil Brownsword - National Treasure

Source material for ceramics and film.

Neil Brownsword - National Treasure

Ceramic, looped film, performance with Anthony Challiner, 2015-16. Courtesy the artist.

National Treasure

Ceramic, looped film, performance with Anthony Challiner, 2016. Courtesy the artist.

National Treasure is an explicit expression of respect for industrial labour and skill as a still relevant past. Turning a video camera on china painter Tony Challiner, a craftsman with over five decades of experience, Brownsword rescues skill from our amnesiac collective mind, proving the timeless value of the hand. The title reinforces this idea, but also explicitly refers to the east, to Japan and Korea where craftspeople are considered patrimony (a kind of inheritance to be passed down through the generations). Hiring Challiner himself, Brownsword choreographed a performance of remembering and re-enactment in the derelict Josiah Spode factory. The images of ruined industrial sites painted on the reverse side of the plates are poignant but not nostalgic, they are literally snapshots of an economic transition following the displacement of a traditional industry. 

 

Neil Brownsword

Neil Brownsword is an artist, researcher and educator who holds Professorial positions in ceramics at Bucks New University and the University of Bergen, Norway. He holds a PhD from Brunel University and MA in Ceramics and Glass from the Royal College of Art, London. Brownsword began his career in ceramics as an apprentice modeller at the Wedgwood Factory in 1987, and it is this formative experience in industry that remains a constant point of reference in his work. His practice examines the legacy of globalisation in relation to Stoke-on-Trent’s ceramic manufacturing sector, and the impact this has had upon people, place and traditional skills.

Using film and performative installation Brownsword deconstructs complex craft knowledge within industrial production to pose questions surrounding the value of inter-generational skill. His work is represented in public/private collections internationally, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Korea Ceramic Foundation, Yingee Ceramic Museum Taiwan and Fu Le International Ceramic Art Museum China. In 2009 he was awarded the inaugural British Ceramic Biennial Award, and the prestigious Grand Prize at the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, South Korea in 2015.