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Emily Speed’s Hollowware Performance in Worcester

16th August 2018

On Saturday 11 August, an unusual art performance took place in Worcester, linking the historic collections of the Museum of Royal Worcester to the canals and waterways that used to serve the porcelain factory. Contemporary artist Emily Speed created Hollowware as a new commission for arts organisation Meadow Arts and Canal & River Trust’s Arts on the Waterways project, The Ring.

Performer Amy Stevenson wore a costume designed by the artist, part-dress and part-sculpture, for her procession between the museum and canals, moving on foot and undertaking some of the route on a canal boat, operated by volunteers from the Canal & River Trust. On the way, she stopped to take small sculptures from her costume and tell stories to visitors that the artist called, ‘moments in time’ – abstract thoughts, drawing in some of the histories of this important part of Worcester.

Meadow Arts and The Ring project aim to bring high-quality art to the area, encouraging local audiences and visitors to visit the canals and rivers. Emily Speed is one of seven artists commissioned to make work as part of The Ring, in a project running until September 2018. Tim Eastop, executive producer of the Canal & River Trust’s ‘Arts on the Waterways’ programme, says, “We are delighted with how the worlds of the arts, the waterways and local people have come together throughout the last few months of The Ring. Emily’s performance is the next chapter of this evolving programme of high calibre arts inspired by waterways and one I can only recommend that you see for yourself.” Upcoming works include a spectacular mural at Diglis Oil Basin by internationally successful artist Lucy McLauchlan.

A film made during Emily Speed’s art performance will be displayed with the costume at the Museum of Royal Worcester from 20 September 2018 until 20 March 2019 in Meadow Arts’ upcoming major contemporary art exhibition, in partnership with the museum, The Precious Clay. The exhibition is an exciting chance to see how contemporary artists use porcelain as a material in their works and how these interact with the museum’s new displays after its’ refurbishment.

The exhibition will include a new commission by Worcester born artist Laura White, who will investigate the material properties of porcelain, the objects we have around us, the ways we value them and how porcelain is produced today. Other artists in The Precious Clay explore porcelain through objects, sculpture and film and the show includes a huge variety of works, some delicately crafted and some that are playful and irreverent. Curator of the exhibition, Anne de Charmant says, “It’s a delight to bring artists who are successful in the contemporary art world to the Museum of Royal Worcester, where they have been inspired by the designs and craftsmanship in the historic collections. The show will be a really inspiring way to look at the museum in new ways.”