About The Exhibition
Fifty pieces of pottery provide the central display for 50 Pots, one chosen for each year to represent the research, collecting and safeguarding of knowledge that has been carried out by the Scottish Pottery Society, which celebrates its golden anniversary this year. The pieces also represent the hands of the thousands of skilled workers employed in Scotland’s pottery industry for nearly 250 years, producing earthenware, stoneware and porcelain for national and international markets.
Industrial ceramic production in Scotland dates back to 1748, when the Delftfield pottery was established on the banks of the River Clyde, only coming to an end in 1982, when Scotland’s last industrial pottery, Govancroft, finally closed its doors. However very little is known about Scotland’s ceramic history in the public sphere; pottery it seems is Scotland’s ‘ghost’ industry. Virtually all traces of the industry have been wiped from the landscape.
One of the main aims of 50 Pots is to reconnect the people of Scotland to this important part of their cultural heritage. The exhibition is the first time that pieces representing industrial potteries from the north, east and west of Scotland, including Glasgow, Greenock, Aberdeen, Bo’ness, Portobello, Prestonpans and Kirkcaldy, will be exhibited together to reveal the scale, range and global reach of Scotland’s pottery industry.
Uncovering and telling the stories of workers and people involved in the Scottish pottery industry is an integral part of the thinking behind the exhibition. Its aim is to allow visitors to connect to the human narratives involved in the craftmanship of the industrial pottery process and identify with this dislocated history. Shared stories between Scotland and Staffordshire potteries through workers, owners, and ideas exchanged through clay and glaze recipes also form an important part of the exhibition’s story.
The number of countries reached by Scotland’s pottery industry and the intercultural links created as a result, span the globe. Communicating to visitors the global reach and historic cultural connections made as a result of Scotland’s pottery industry is a central part of the thinking behind the exhibition. The list of export countries is quite extraordinary, with Scottish pottery manufacturers recognising and responding to gaps in global markets. This creativity, design thinking and entrepreneurship even extended to Tennent Brewery’s ownership of Possil pottery to supply bottles for their important Cuban markets with Scotland’s totem ‘T’ stamped on stoneware bottles made in Glasgow and sent to the Caribbean.
Work produced by City of Glasgow College applied arts students provides an integral and dynamic aspect to the show. Inspiring future ceramicists is fundamental to the exhibition, demonstrating how Scotland’s pottery history can be part of a living heritage.