Brexit provides pottery inspiration

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The ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit egg cups that make up a part of the Brexitware collection. Pic © Adam Higgins JMU Journalism

The topical issue of Brexit has been given a new spin at the potter’s wheel which has produced an intriguing new exhibition.

Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery has a new display of ‘Brexitware’ pottery on display, focusing on the controversial subject of the UK leaving the European Union.

The collection, depicting the various impacts of Brexit, was dreamed up by Harriet Coles prior to the 2016 EU referendum, and is a part of the ‘politics on pots’ display at the gallery.

The beautifully hand-crafted plates and egg-cups sit alongside other political pottery pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries, and it is the history of this quirky tradition that inspired Coles to create her ceramics.

She said: “China illustrated with political and social commentary from the 18th and 19th Centuries. That was my inspiration and I’ve always loved it. If you go into any local or regional museum around Britain you are sure to find an example.

“British ceramics have been recording our popular social history for centuries now. Often with humour, especially in edgy situations. I thought that Brexit, whatever each of us voted, was a sufficiently big issue to merit its own political pots in this tradition.

Twitter: Adam Higgins

Explaining the story behind the collection, Coles believes that each one of her pieces reflects certain periods throughout the Brexit saga.

She said: “The message has evolved. I have never wanted to lobby, change people’s minds or influence their views. I wanted to record some key issues or experiences of these times. 

“Take the egg cups; I designed them after the referendum when we all first heard the terms Hard and Soft Brexit. I remember no-one really knowing what they meant and yet these new terms were constantly in the news. So the egg cups are a record of that period.”

Coles’ work was brought to Liverpool by art gallery curator, Nicola Scott. She said: “I thought it would be memorable and enjoyable for our visitors. The Brexitware is well-designed, attractive and combines humour with thought-provoking reflection on current events.

We have had people coming to the gallery asking for it and taking photos and selfies with the display, so it seems to have popular appeal. The egg cups never fail to raise a smile.”

The ‘Politics on Pots’ display will run until December 31st at the Walker Art Gallery, with entry free to all.

About Adam Higgins, JMU Journalism