Exploring the site specific and associated histories of post-industry



Topographies of the Obsolete is an artistic research project initiated by Professors Neil Brownsword and Anne Helen Mydland at Bergen Academy of Art and Design (KHiB) in collaboration with partner universities/institutions in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France and the UK. In 2012 the British Ceramics Biennial invited Bergen Academy of Art and Design (KHiB) to develop a site-specific artistic response to the former Spode Factory in Stoke-on-Trent as a key element of their 2013 exhibition programme. The project explores the landscape and associated histories of post-industry, with an initial emphasis on Stoke-on-Trent, a world-renowned ceramics capital that bears evidence of fluctuations in global fortunes.

“Archival information” photo Karen Harsbo


One of my projects at the Spode Works looked into the history of porcelain.

From how porcelain was invented in China and later laboriously transported via the Silk Route to Europe. How alchemists in Europe experimented to find the formula, and how it during the Enlightenment Age, eg the Lunar Society, became a major industry with exports to the whole world. And how production once again has gone back to the East.

It is a story that generates multiple routes and maps; – and places are connected via camel routes through the desert or container routes over the ocean. It is routes of human curiosity and knowledge.

I have been interested in the people who have been part of these places – workers in the East and the West. Those who have been a dot on the larger map and relayed their knowledge throughout history. As well as those who no longer can use their craftmanship in times of unenployment.


The project webpage