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The Northern Industrial Ceramic Commission: Update from Victoria Dawes

The MADE NORTH Northern Industrial Project explores creating a range of affordable objects, furniture and fashion that convey a sense of northern-ness from the north of England, through a choice of materials or way of manufacture.

The commission provided Starter Studio participants Victoria Dawes and Mike Scown with the opportunity to make new work which will be exhibited at MADE NORTH Gallery from Saturday 9th July to Saturday 27th August.

"In response to the Northern Industrial brief I wanted to make a collection of domestic ceramics for the centre of the home as a celebration of a family around the kitchen table. The collection is a reflection upon the time I spent working for Dennis Black, a former Sheffield steel worker, as his cleaner in the late stages of his life.

A red brick house with strong blue trim decorated with anaglypta wallpaper, faded floral carpets, net curtains and carefully displayed trinkets, walking into Dennis’s house was like taking a step into the past. He told great stories of his family and a life working in the steel industry. While I knew Dennis he lived to honour the promise he made to his wife’s father when she moved to Sheffield from Wales to always look after her.

Consisting of a bread bin, butter dish, butter and bread knives and 9 inch plate the collection is a celebration of a self-contained family life. A life spent providing for and taking care of each other through industrial and domestic work with the kitchen table at the heart of the home.

The pieces are designed for everyday use. Relatively simple in form, they draw inspiration from pieces of industrial structure and the décor of the home that Dennis and his wife created together. The surfaces of the pieces celebrate a harmony between two very contrasting veins of hard work undertaken in the steel industry and the home to take care of each other and bring up a family."

Victoria Dawes will talk about her work during the exhibition’s Private View on Thursday 14th July, 6.30-8.30pm at MADE NORTH Gallery.