We like to think that the creative industries are new; a product of our times. Not so. The Wedgwood ceramics factory was just one of many craft based companies which played a major role in Britain’s Industrial Revolution. It was a pioneer in engaging top artists of the time to design its wares. Its products were triumphs of design, construction and marketing. Its labour force was at the forefront of factory workers of the time. It today’s world it would have combined the knowledge economy world of the creative sector with the manufacturing, export led, business.
Exports were a key to its success. It made items explicitly for the export market. One range was for the Dutch market where the economy was booming in the late Eighteenth Century. Early on in my British Council career I was able to support an exhibition of Wedgwood items at the Princessehof Museum in Leeuwarden and the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. The curators worked with the Wedgwood Museum in Barleston. It was a show which demonstrated the close artistic , commercial and personal contacts between the countries.
Now the Wedgwood Museum is under threat. An obscure pensions law has an even more obscure clause which has forced the courts to demand the sale of the Museum. Details here.
Its collection is an essential part of our heritage, of the heritage of the creative industries.
If you are reading this in the UK please contact your MP. UNESCO is supporting the campaign to keep the museum open; join now ,become a supporter.
And visit the Museum.
Update 26 March: Minister Vaizey to visit Musuem. No government money of course.. (what do you expect from this Tory government) but a possible solution. More here