10am – 4pm Saturday 21st September 2019
White River Place | Fore Street | The Market House | Biddick’s Court
Put next year’s date in your diary! Saturday 19th September 2020
The Whitegold Team would like to thank all of the stall holders, the makers and demonstrators, the artists, the prize nominees, the musicians and performers, the local shops and businesses and all the volunteers for making our festival of clay go with a swing.
The ‘Great British spirit’ was well and truly in force and we had loads of visitors and workshops that bravely carried on in the rain before the sun came out to keep us all going!
What happened at Whitegold 2019?
A high-quality ceramic and craft fair sits at the heart of the Whitegold festival, with free stalls available to local makers to display and sell their work. We look particularly for artists whose work has a connection to clay, to kaolin, or to clay country. Stall holders are encouraged to display and sell pieces across a broad price spectrum, so to encourage someone’s very first purchase of an original piece of ceramic art. See a full A-Z of Whitegold 2019 Craft Stall Holders here.
Each stall holder was invited to put a piece forward for the ‘Whitegold Festival People’s Choice 2019’. 185 people voted for their favourite piece over the course of the day. Having tallied up the votes we were delighted to award the prize to Demelza Whitley for ‘Dog on a Blue Ball’.
People voted for Demelza’s work because of its ‘originality and precision‘ I ‘love the quirkiness, style and colour‘, ‘the dog has attitude! A sense of fun and fantastic crazed glaze effect‘.
Hands on Workshops
A packed programme of free workshop activities kept people busy all day! You could try your hand at throwing a pot on a potters wheel or build a large communal landscape in clay with artist makers from Brickworks; make a clay ‘Buccawidden’ – a ‘white spirit’ or ‘piskie’ associated with local folklore to collect and swap memories and/or fictional stories from local villages, with Zenna Tagney read more; create handheld ‘skytips’ to take on a celebratory procession from St Austell Town Centre to Wheal Martyn Heritage Museum, accompanied by storytellers read more; have a go at Raku firing, working with Laurence Eastwood, production potter at Leach and Fleur Winter; join PC projects to imagine a colourful, new world of ceramics in the heart of St Austell. Design, draw and cut out shapes to take over and decorate a shopfront read more and make a bee friendly seed bomb at The People’s Seed Bank information stall to take away with you.
… and a short distance out of town we were running one one of our Brickfield workshops where you can have a go at making a handmade brick at our experimental brick works at Blackpool Pit (Trewoon).
Talks and demonstrations
A major new Whitegold International Ceramic Prize was launched at this year’s festival. Artists, collectives and CIC’s from around the world were invited to submit works that use clay to inspire new perspectives and insights into place – the specific character of a location that makes it unique. 10 shortlisted artists took a visit to St Austell on festival weekend and their itinerary included making a presentation about their work at the festival. You can read biographies of all shortlisted artists here.
Working with Craft Stall holders and local experienced studio potters we programmed five practical ceramic demonstrations for festival goers to learn a little bit about potters process and the skills and techniques involved. We were delighted to welcome Paul Jackson, Cookie Scottern, Bill Holland, Angie Wickenden and Demelza Whitley to take to the Whitegold stages and show us how they throw, slab build and make figurines.
Our live music and performance programme drew back to a connection with clay heritage and culture, whilst creating a vibrant atmosphere in town. All performances were open air and some found in unexpected and unusual places!
At Whitegold 2019 we had performances from St Austell’s own youth brass band, a new contemporary dance work from Spindrift Dance Collective, ‘The Flock’ that danced across the site, appearing and disappearing, telling stories and dancing in doorways, a showcase of Clay Songs by local primary schools where performed original songs written inspired by visits to Wheal Martyn museum and play with clay (supported by Cornwall Music Education Hub), busking performances from local singer songwriters Rue, Joe Francis, Ryan Jones and Will Keating. We also enjoyed appearances from Higher Beings too.
St Austell’s Market House curated a pop up gallery and exhibition space in their beautiful and historic building with a ‘Meet the Maker’ event and live music. See a listing of all exhibitors and examples of their work here. Working with Wheal Martyn museum, The Artyology project provided a chance to see truly varied art works, from experimental drawings and rubbings to prints, and photographs all made at Wheal Martyn Clay Museum by members of the public over the summer. The show will be open to the public during the festival. The Artyology Team also curated an exciting exhibition of local artists work, including works inspired by the Clay Heritage and the re wilded local landscape. It included Raku ceramics by our local Raku Master Andy Shepherd of St Austell.
Information stalls and stands
The festival provides a great opportunity for the public to learn more about the mining process and what the kaolin clay is used for. Members of the public are often surprised about the many varied uses of this mineral in paper and magazine production, paint and pharmaceuticals as well as porcelain. We were pleased to welcome interactive information stands and exhibitions from:
- Eco-Bos Development Ltd: Eco-Bos are the company behind the vision for the West Carclaze Garden Village, positively transforming more than 500 acres of former china clay land in mid-Cornwall to create a vibrant and sustainable new village with beautiful homes, excellent community and leisure facilities and an extensive country park
- Imerys:The world leader in mineral-based specialties for industry, Imerys delivers solutions (including China Clay from Mid Cornwall) to a great number of sectors from processing industries to consumer goods and building products. Visit the Imerys exhibition to find out about how St Austell’s china clay is extracted and used in the manufacture of all sorts of products we handle every day.
- Creative Front, St Austell Townscape Heritage Initiative: Help PC Projects to imagine a colourful, new world of ceramics in the heart of St Austell. Design, draw and cut out shapes as we take over and decorate a shopfront. Read more...
- Wheal Martyn Clay Works: Discover more about the lives of those who lived and worked in the shadows of the famous ‘White Pyramids’ and the opportunity to learn about the new developments taking place at the site, and join in tile painting activities.
- The Whitegold traditional Cornish clay oven has visited the festival a few times now, serving pizza’s, bread, soups and stews and other tasty treats. Our friends from Cornwall Food Foundation‘s Food for Change programme and the FoodWorks cooking courses team took charge of the wood fired oven this year, and shared information about their courses and projects.
- Family owned St Austell Brewery also made their usual appearance, providing samples of their locally brewed beers and lagers.
This all sounds fantastic! How can I get involved in Whitegold 2020?
Whitegold Festival of Clay aims to encourage as many people as we can to get in touch with their creative side and to join in with the community. We are keen to welcome people passionate about clay, crafting and making to come and join the team and act as ambassadors for creativity, supporting workshops, encouraging passers-by to join in and have a go, holding a conversation and listening to responses. If you would like to support the 2020 festival by becoming a volunteer please get in touch with us.
You might be interested in taking up the offer a having a stall at the festival – using this to sell or show work, on your own or with others.
You might be keen to share something about your practice in a live demonstration.
You might want to set up a food stall outside your own shop, or take one of our planned street food pitches for 2020.
You might have a touring outdoor performance or busking set you think we’d be interested in booking.
You might have a skill you’d like to share through one of our hands-on workshops.
If you are interested in any of the above, or have other thoughts or projects you’d like to bring to the festival, you can contact Cat Radford, the festival producer by email: