Just like Dust in an empty swimming pool

It’s a rare opportunity to climb into a swimming pool when it’s completely empty.

It’s fulfilling a childhood adventure that you never thought you’d experience. That is, until you find yourself standing at the bottom looking up and realise it’s a little like being in a horror movie.

It feels like you should be looking up at metres of swirling water either panicking or accepting defeat. Maybe I’ve watched too many BBC dramas.

But it was okay this time – because I was accompanied by art.

On Wednesday I visited ‘Dust’ – an art exhibition at Tunstall Baths in Stoke-on-Trent.

Depending on who I’m talking to I don’t always say that I’m from Stoke-on-Trent (because technically I am and technically I’m not) but when it comes to backing the bid for city of culture in 2021 I AM ALL IN!!

I got to have a lovely chat with the curator and artist Joyce Iwaszko who is originally from Belfast but has embraced The Potteries way of life. She originally called the show ‘Dust’ after being inspired by shows in the old Spode workspace in the centre of Stoke, which was covered in dust.

Her pieces were inspired by the dust you found at Spode combined with Jasperware and playing with colour – our favourite colour is orange.

Joyce Iwaszko
Pieces by Joyce including pieces of ceramic showing ‘2021’ and plenty of ‘Dust’

Now, if you’re not local, you may wonder what Stoke has to offer. All 12 artists in the exhibition have to live, work, study or be local. 

So we’re definitely not sure of artistic talent when it comes to a range of skills from photography to ceramics. 

If you are local you will understand the importance of such creativity in our communities. Stepping into this space, similar to how I felt stepping into Spode for BCB last year.

You can feel your history in there. Voices from the past whisper at you from that paint and ceramics dust.

Especially here, in a place that I did not even know existed but is so beautiful, we become timeless. You can feel like the child who is learning about your areas history for the first time, especially if you were lucky to grow up when coal mines, pot banks, factories and pot making were still in their glory period.

If you’ve grown up turning over plates whilst simultaneously being mocked by every comedian and Gary Linekar on Match of the Day, you start to feel passionately.

So when you’re standing in the middle of an empty swimming pool surrounded by the ghosts of your areas past – warm, friendly, glowing ghosts – you start to feel the fight.

There is no reason we shouldn’t be city of culture 2021. We have so much to offer, you can’t even image.

This art is just the tip of the iceberg. The heart behind it is only a tiny bit more.

So, if you’re in the area, pop down to Tunstall Baths on Friday 27th January 12-4pm and experience a tingle and a passion you may never knew you had for the area. They’ve already had to open extra hours due to popular demand.

If you can’t make it the show will be touring to the remaining three Stoke towns with Fenton in February, the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem in March and finally Longton in April.

Let’s show them what we’re really made of.


Other artists in the show included:

Denise O’Sullivan, Kyle Cartlidge, Andy Cooke, Kornelia Herms, Know One, Lindsey Davis, Dawn Jutton, Ben Evans, Jasmine Simpson, Dan Southward and Andrew Turner.

To support the bid visit the official website or show off using hashtag #SOT2021


Piece by Denise O'Sullivan
Piece by Denise O’Sullivan

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