I was honoured to meet and share some words with HRH Prince of Wales during his visit to Burslem on the 16th May 2013. One of the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent, Burslem is the town where we keep a studio and where we were based and established our businesses before embarking on the Year of the Boat.
The Prince was in Burslem to visit The Wedgwood Institute, a superb but derelict building in the heart of the town, as part of a Prince's Charities Summit. All the 12 Prince's Charities (such as the Prince's Trust, The Prince's School for the Traditional Arts, The Prince's Regeneration Trust) are beginning to work together in highlighted communities to try and drive forward regeneration.
The Wedgwood Institute is my favourite building in the city, I used to rent a flat opposite and have painted it numerous times...
The building has a spectacular facade of ceramic friezes and Minton mosaic tiles. It was Wedgwood's statement to the world that whatever could be achieved in stone building and decoration could also be achieved in ceramics thus advertising the local industries of 'The Potteries'.
To provide some interest to the Prince's tour of the town with his charity delegates I set up and painted a painting of the crowd gathering in Queen Street through out the day, starting early in the morning and finishing with the chat with HRH at about midday.
The Prince stopped and I gave him a book of all the Year of the Boat paintings to highlight the work we have been doing in partnership with the Canal and River Trust, which he is patron of, and talked through my time studying at The Princes Drawing School in London.
The Prince was wonderful to meet, a genuinely interested and approachable man that requested the removal of barriers and did not hesitate to walk amongst the crowds and even make an unplanned visit into a model railway shop 2 doors up the street from our studio!
After the tour of the centre of Burslem the Prince went on to a reception and debate at Middleport Pottery, which was purchased by the Princes Regeneration Trust in 2011. The alignment of the Prince's charities with Burslem gives me great hope for the future of the town which has suffered since the growth of the Asian market in the mass production of pottery, the collapse of the mining industry and the recent recessions. Prior to the Year of the Boat we had spent 5 years working hard at developing the arts scene in the area, the scene is a strong one locally and we hope it will play its part in a regeneration of the town and wider city but to have this recognition and for the town to be highlighted on an international level by the wonderful charities fills us with pride and hope for the future.
You can see more videos and content from the day on 6towns Radio's website -