Brickfield

Brickfield is an experimental temporary brickworks set up by Rosanna Martin and Georgia Gendall at Blackpool Pit, Trewoon, St Austell. Come and join them there on walks out around the pit and have a go at making a brick, something that is wonderfully simple and accessible to all, and while you’re working have a chat about what you might like to make with the bricks – if work together to make loads of them! 

Brickmaking workshops will be taking place on Friday 9th August, Saturday 10th August, Friday 23rd August, Saturday 24th August. Places are limited and by sign up only. To register interest please mail brickfield@whitegold.org.uk

Fieldtrips will be taking place on Sat July 27th and Sat August 17th. For more details and to register your interest email brickfield@whitegold.org.uk

The people of St Austell and the surrounding villages are being invited to help revive the centuries old Cornish art of brick making as part of a project designed to celebrate the unique history of Mid Cornwall and its links with China Clay.

The Brickfield project will see the establishment of an experimental community brickworks at Imerys’ former Blackpool Pit, where people can come and make bricks with the local materials.

Brickfield is a Whitegold project, a new programme of art about the St Austell area where artists are helping people to look again at the “Cornish Alps”, the china clay tips and pits, with an eye on building a creative and sustainable future.     

Brickmaking has not been seen in the area for the past 100 years. Local artists Rosanna Martin and Georgia Gendall will be working with a wide range of groups, students, architects, and local businesses as well as calling on brick making experts, clay country geologists and historians.

The project is being supported by Imerys Minerals which is providing space at Blackpool Pit free of charge, has arranged for temporary accommodation on the site and is giving access to clay and other materials for use in the brickmaking process.

Dr Katie Bunnell, Co-Curator for the project, says: “Brickfield will use traditional brick making methods as a way of bringing communities together and exploring how through collective thinking and shared labour, we can make a new site of handmade industry. The processes involved in traditional brick-making are accessible and fun as well as providing a unique insight into an entire making cycle from clay collection to fired end product. Through this collaborative endeavour we aim to both galvanise existing communities and generate new ones”.

“We are incredibly grateful to Imerys for their support, without which we wouldn’t have been able to bring forward Brickfield, and for the use of Blackpool Pit as a fitting base for a project celebrating clay past, present and future.”

Together with community groups from around Clay Country, we will design, make and fire a new Clay Country brick. We will make a volume of bricks over the duration of the project which will be stacked to make a specialist brick kiln that will be fired as part of Whitegold 2019, providing a focal point for visitors to gather, tell stories and find out about the process of brickmaking.

What does the project involve?

First, will be opportunities to take part in trips exploring the china clay landscape to learn how the china clay industry has shaped the countryside around St Austell and to find clay samples that might be good for making bricks. With help from Imerys, Rosanna and Georgia will be experimenting with by-products collected from the industrial processing of china clay and combining these with other materials to create a new clay body that will have unique characteristics specific to the area. Fieldtrips will run on Sat 20th July, Sat 27th July. Places are limited and sign up is required. 

In August there will be a series of workshops that will involve designing a new brick with its own distinctive stamp and name and from which special brick frames will be made. Once we have our basic brick design and moulds for making them we will set up a brick-making production on site at Blackpool Pit, Trewoon. On site there will be opportunities to get involved in all stages of making the new clay country brick. This will involve: mixing and preparing clay, adding combustibles to the mix, wedging the clay to remove air, pressing clay into wooden moulds, knocking out the bricks and laying them to dry before they are finally added to the kiln to be fired.

The traditional way to fire bricks is done using a brick clamp kiln which is, roughly speaking a big stack of bricks piled neatly on top of a fire that is contained in a tunnel below. The firing will take several days! Small versions of a clamp kiln will be set up on site over the course of the project, working towards a final firing as part of the Whitegold Festival 2019.

Throughout the project we will be exploring what kinds of architectural structures the bricks could be used for, with an ambition to build a space in 2020, for which events, exhibitions, residencies, talks, story telling and other community activities could be programmed.

Cornish Bricks

The first brickworks in Cornwall was part of the Heligan estate and is believed to have begun in 1681, with Heligan House itself being built using clay dug on the estate. A number of brickworks existed across Cornwall, from small scale sites such as Heligan, to larger scale commercial outputs like the one in Par. Often a works would be located where clay was readily available, and could be processed with other materials that came directly from the land such as river mud, china clay by-products such as sand and mica, and decomposed rocks.

Brickfield invites you to get involved in all aspects of the project, for further details or to register interest contact brickfield@whitegold.com

Clay Exchange is concerned with reaching out to the world Clay Exchange is a way for artists from Cornwall to see other places and for artists from other places to see St Austell. It is concerned with developing St Austell’s national and international networks, working with ceramic arts initiatives, festivals and communities, in particular the development of collaborations with the British Ceramic Biennale and other partners in Stoke-on-Trent such as Emma Bridgewater and the City Council.

Brickfield is supported by IMERYS.

Main Activities

Clay Country Field Trips, Clay Collecting, Brick Designing and Naming workshops, Brickmaking Production, Kiln Firing

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