What is it?
The V&A Wedgwood Collection is one of the most important industrial collections in the world and a unique record of over 260 years of British ceramic production. Owned by the V&A following a successful fundraising campaign spearheaded by Art Fund, it is on display at Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, where an imaginative public programme celebrates the diversity, creativity and depth of the collection, within its local context of North Staffordshire, known as The Potteries.
The V&A Wedgwood Collection comprises over 165,000 works of art, ceramics, manuscripts and photographs charting the factory’s history, designs and ceramic production. It was saved for the nation and gifted to the V&A in 2014 following a major public appeal organised by Art Fund, generously supported by thousands of individuals, companies and grant-making foundations, including significant support from the Heritage Fund and Art Fund.
Around 3,500 objects are on display in the purpose-built museum, showcasing the commercial and aesthetic history of Wedgwood ceramics from iconic jasperware and black basalt vases and ornaments, to bone china tea-sets and classic 20th-century designs. Highlights from the collection include Wedgwood’s early creamware and jasperware experiments, Wedgwood’s copy of the Portland vase, the Wedgwood family portrait of 1780 by George Stubbs, and early examples of the medallion Wedgwood produced to support the Abolitionist cause. The museum charts the Wedgwood story through changing fashions from Rococo to neo-Classical pottery alongside examples of Wedgwood’s pioneering collaborations with artists and designers from John Flaxman to Eduardo Paolozzi. The collections and UNESCO-recognised archives explore the history of the Wedgwood family, from the creative genius of founder Josiah Wedgwood – pioneering businessman and social campaigner – to notable Wedgwood descendants both in and out of the factory, from naturalist Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) to composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958), and their wider cultural context.
Until January 2022: 'I am a Man and a Brother' Display & Trail
Wedgwood’s anti-slavery medallion was designed to bring about the abolition of the Slave Trade. A display, co-curated with students from Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, explores the significance of the medallion. Historic objects and archives from the V&A Wedgwood Collection are displayed alongside ceramic medallions for the 21st-century designed and made by the students in Wedgwood’s jasper clay. A free trail guides visitors through the galleries, providing context for the medallion and the wider history of abolition and anti-racism.
Until 17th October 2022: Alice Walton Display
Alice Walton is a British ceramic sculptor whose work has attracted international recognition. At the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Walton was awarded the ‘Fresh’ Wedgwood Prize for her use of coloured porcelain to create highly complex and multi-layered objects. Walton has spent some time here at World of Wedgwood, where she has developed a new range of works, which re-imagine Wedgwood’s iconic shapes using traditional Jasper clay. Her sculptures can be found in the entrance of the V&A Wedgwood Collection throughout this year’s British Ceramics Biennial.
10th - 17th September: Heritage Open Days
A week-long event hosted with World of Wedgwood to celebrate Heritage Open Days. We invite visitors on a guided tour to explore the theme ‘Edible England’ through Wedgwood’s weird and wonderful ceramic shapes. There will be an opportunity to sample treats made by the World of Wedgwood Tea Room inspired by historic Wedgwood family recipe books in the V&A Wedgwood Collection. The World of Wedgwood Tea Room will run a special menu inspired by the same recipe books from 10th-19th September.
1st - 2nd October 12.30pm-1.30pm: Upstart Careers Festival
A real-talk discussion between two ceramic artists, sharing their career experiences so far. Get ready to be inspired by exciting ideas and truthful insights. If you’re dreaming of a creative career in clay, don’t miss this opportunity to get the low-down from the people who know. There will be two talks that will run between 12.30pm and 1.30pm on the 1st and 2nd October 2021. It’s a chance to unpick the steps being taken to make the industry more sustainable and to ask questions about opportunities across the field.
2nd - 3rd October: BCB Generation Workshop
Join the BCB Generation Group and the Stoke-on-Trent YMCA at the British Ceramics Biennial hub, the Goods Yard, to try your hand at creating a wearable protest medallion. Choose from a range of designs, get creative and walk away with your very own badge or necklace inspired by Josiah Wedgwood’s anti-slavery medallion. This event will take place at the Good's Yard, 4 Glebe St, ST4 1HG and not the V&A Wedgwood Collection.
20th October Onwards: Family Trail
A family trail leading you through the galleries at the V&A Wedgwood Collection across the World of Wedgwood. Be guided by Charlie, our firm but friendly Lodge Man who has some very important people for you to meet. Find out about their roles in the factory and collect stamps in your booklet. Once complete, transform your booklet into a reusable plant potholder as a memento of your day with us!
Our V&A Wedgwood Collection is FREE ENTRY
When visiting, why not tie in breakfast, brunch or lunch over at the World of Wedgwood Tea Room? Call the bookings team on +44 (0) 1782 282986 to book a table.
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Search our online archives here: vam.ac.uk/info/va-wedgwood-collection