Makers at Middleport… Libby Ward and Alex Allday
Two of our makers, jeweller Libby Ward and ceramicist Alex Allday, are based at the historic Middleport Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent. They set up their studio called FourMakers back in December 2014… four graduates all based in the midlands, looking to create a platform for contemporary crafts in the area and a studio space where they could develop their practices. We caught up with Libby and Alex to find out more about their inspirational setting…
Libby: Middleport is one of the few remaining working Victorian pottery banks left in Stoke-On-Trent. With help from United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust back in 2010, the site was renovated and then opened to the public in 2014. The FourMakers Studio is an open workshop and gallery where visitors can come and watch us make, shop from us and chat to us about our work.
Pulling up at Middleport every morning is a dream! Walking to our studio along the Victorian cobbles is an absolute pleasure! Our studio is the only one that is actually attached to the bottle kiln wall. We have watched the site develop over the years and this has attracted other local businesses and so we now have a community of craftspeople here at Middleport studios.
Libby creates contemporary jewellery and works alongside Alex, who produces decorative ceramic ware. They predominately run the FourMakers workshop and gallery. Both work with completely different materials, but they find that this helps them to bounce ideas off one other and it allows each other to consider design from a different point of view. The pair saw a massive increase in visitors over the summer when Middleport played host to the weeping windows installation. This put them and Middleport in front of a local and national audience.
Alex: Middleport is the perfect location of my practice. My inspiration comes from historical English architecture and its intricate details, such as the Victorian window details and floor tile patterns around the site.
Libby also takes her inspiration from Middleport. She is drawn to manmade objects and buildings that have been weathered over the years. The rusty metals and textures around the pottery inform her need to question preciousness through her practice.
This December, as part of Middleport’s Victorian Christmas, the two will be running their popular Christmas workshops. Not only can you enjoy a visit to the historic potteries, but make something beautiful and festive for your home under Libby and Alex’s expert tuition.
The first will be a joint workshop, working in both ceramic and wire, on the 9th of December. Join Libby and Alex for a festive afternoon creating your own handmade decorations for your house and tree.
Then on the 12th of December, Alex will be running a porcelain tea light workshop using traditional slab building techniques to create stunning pieces for yourself or a personal gift for friends and family. Finally, on the 19th of December, join Libby to design and create your own Christmas wreath. Natural and artificial materials will be provided and you can also take your own materials to make it even more personal.
The workshop tickets are available through www.alexallday.co.uk or call to book 07914530281.
To find out more about Middleport Pottery visit their website here. There’s a visitor centre, factory tours and different events throughout the year. It must be a really inspirational place for Libby and Alex to have their studio! You can see and buy Libby’s jewellery online with us here and Alex’s ceramics here.
Lead image credit UKHBPT.