Sara’s Blog: Stoke’s Spitfire returns and the British Ceramics Biennial

At a time when the news comprises, Covid, shortage of goods and international tensions it is a welcome diversion to take a step back and focus on two uplifting local events that not only celebrate our culture, inventiveness, and foresight, but also offer a vision of rebirth and regeneration, especially to our young people.

Last week saw the unveiling of Stoke-on-Trent’s iconic Spitfire housed in its stunning new glass fronted gallery.

It was particularly poignant that the £5.4M gallery was unveiled on the day which marks the RAF’s victory against all odds in the Battle of Britain. And on Saturday we were treated to a flypast of one of the last of the flying Spitfires.

What a fantastic and fitting memorial to its inventor, Reginald J Mitchell, born in Butt Lane in 1895.

This shy man with little formal training in aerodynamics created many revolutionary aircraft in the Twenties, breaking several speed records along the way.

Mitchell sadly died in 1937, never knowing how famous and iconic his greatest plane, the Spitfire, would become and how it would play such a pivotal role in changing the fortunes of the nation in 1940.

Now thousands of people will be able to see our fully restored Spitfire, sitting proudly in its brand-new glass walled gallery which looks even more stunning when it is lit up at night.

We have yet another world-class attraction in Stoke-on-Trent which is an example of the regeneration happening across the city. It is not just a celebration of our past but a beacon to the future as we rebuild a city fit for the 21st century. We need to encourage our young people to appreciate rewards of following a career in science and engineering, starting with STEM subjects at school.

I wonder what the modest Mitchell would have thought to see his creation, for the second time, as a symbol of hope and triumph over adversity? Hopefully with a sense of real pride and a wry smile.

The seventh British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) is currently taking place, centred at the Goods Yard in Stoke with exhibitions at Air Space Gallery, The Spode Museum and Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

The five-week festival of ceramic art was initiated in 2009 and has grown to be the single largest ceramics event in the UK, a flagship cultural project for Stoke-on-Trent and a catalyst for regeneration. It showcases artworks from the UK’s leading ceramicists alongside work by international artists, in exhibitions and special events held across the city. BCB is underpinned by an exciting year-round programme of artists’ commissions, education, and community engagement projects.

For me, and countless visitors, what makes the BCB special is the opportunity for close contact with thought-provoking work with many artists taking inspiration from Stoke-on-Trent’s extraordinary industrial heritage. It is also closely linked to our ceramic future as we enter a new age of exciting opportunities with the development of the £18M plus global centre for advanced ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent.

Showcasing at the BCB is AWARD 21, is a prestigious exhibition and platform for UK contemporary ceramic art. It presents 10 of the UK’s most innovative ceramic artists who are competing for the £5000 prize.

Other highlights include ‘Fresh’ – a platform for new artists, ‘Stoke Makes Plates’ – with over 250 plates designed by local residents and ‘Generation’ – a project engaging young people with the area’s ceramic heritage.

Of course, there is much more and the BCB is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Entry is free and there is no need to book. More information from:

If you want to talk to us about any other business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

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