- LIGHT NIGHT by Amanda Bromley Cultural Champion for Burslem
Wow what a party that was on the streets of the Mother Town last Thursday, Friday and Saturday for Light Night SOT. Well done to Gemma Thomas and the team at Appetite Stoke and the officers of the City Council for pulling off the best event I’ve seen ever in Stoke-on-Trent. You all made the City proud and pulled off a truly stunning production, in the darkness, an outdoor / indoor new type of event for the City and it’s cultural presence.
Credit to Abi Brown who had the vision, idea and leadership to push this through. Her determination and belief to throw this dice must have had sixes written all over it as she never waivered in her belief that Burslem would deliver for the City an amazing backdrop to this sensational and extraordinary event.
The backdrop was of course Burslem’s incredible architectural gems which are monuments to the fact that Burslem is also known as the Mother Town of the World Capital of Ceramics. These buildings are world class, listed, famous amongst national societies, they give us now today, an evidence of it’s Mother Town status.
Well done to The Arts Council for backing the event, perhaps their support was a consolation following the disappointment from #SOT2021, or perhaps to see if we could deliver on a big cultural event, or perhaps they have a soft spot for Stoke-on-Trent? My feeling is they want to see Stoke regain its status as a cultural city. They want to see it as a place to visit, live and work with culture on its doorstep, to enjoy, to deliver jobs, to bring tourism and rewards.
Walking around on these cold light nights in midst of winter, I felt the ‘warmth and humanity’ portrayed in red neon at the award winning Mother Town fish and chips shop, it reminded me further of the words of the artist Arthur Berry, (whose passion for Burslem could not be restrained), when he described Burslem’s architecture being “ as good as any European City, like Barcelona or Paris”, then asking us all to imagine how this small potting town, itself “had had the vitality to put up such buildings”, and then perhaps we can understand why Burslem is a perfect location for such a beautiful and important presentation of culture for the City. There is no doubt that Burslem is becoming known as a hidden gem out of a series of bad news, so now polished, I ask funding partners in the City and nationally to keep its flame ignited so its unique and important story can reach out and become continual, for strength in your historic Mother Town will form the bed rock for our City to be ever-confident of a status of World Capital of Ceramics with authentic history and skills running through its streets and people.
Another Neon was installed on the top of Market Place Café, a high line at the ridge of the hill top in Burslem overlooking the newly installed large open York stone square akin to any European plaza. It says “Shine Again”…. And didn’t Burslem and the City do just that. Arthur’s words from a poem called ‘Heatwave’ where the context is “And all the rooftops of the City will Shine Again…” – it relates to regeneration and hope, which is why Gemma Thomas of Appetite saw this installation as fitting. I’m starting to think that Arthur Berry could now add the title of Prophet to his artist, poet, playwright and raconteur roll-call. Perhaps you can tell I’m a fan? A visit to the gallery where I’m surrounded by his writings and original art work in Burslem might give a hint as to why.
The truth is, when culture is authentic to its place, a special thing happens, working with local artists thereby helping to champion their economic fortunes, by using organically grown independent shops, pubs, breweries, cafes and restaurants, who all use local suppliers that provide local jobs, this all helps to build a stronger local economy, when twinned with excellent performance and events then the crowds come from all over and spend in our wonderful City not Manchester or Birmingham but Stoke-on-Trent. We can be proud of what happened and that it was mostly locally delivered, I encourage this to be a blue print to think big and proud of our City and its abilities but most of all keep it relevant to place with dashings of world class.
Amanda Bromley - Owner of Barewall Art Gallery and Cultural Champion for Burslem
Written: Sunday 3rd February 2019
Contact Amanda Bromley 07932 717 718
Barewall Art Gallery, 2-4 Market Place, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST6 4AT 01782 2588 843