Topographies of the Obsoleteis an Artistic Research project (KU Prosjekt) 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 and the UK. Our main collaborative partner is the British Ceramics Biennial, who invited KHiB to work at the original Spode Works factory in Stoke-on-Trent, to develop a site specific artistic response as a core element of their 2013 exhibition program. More than 40 international artists and theoreticians have participated in this multidisciplinary project with a program of seminars, publications and exhibitions. Three residencies have accumulated individual artistic projects from which the overriding project has developed.
The project focus centres upon the landscape of post-industry, more particular; that of Stoke-on-Trent, a world renowned ceramic capital that bears in its city evidence of fluctuations in global fortunes. The original Spode factory, situated in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, was once a keystone of the city's industrial heritage which operated upon its original site for over 230 years. Amongst Spode's contributions to ceramic history include the perfection of under-glaze blue printing and Fine Bone China. The factory's industrial architecture dates from the 1760's to the late 1980's, with spaces associated with all aspects of the design, manufacture, retail and administration in close geographical proximity. In 2008 Spode's Church Street site closed, with most of its production infrastructure and contents left intact.