Iliana Taliotis

PR & project management | Art, design, craft & culture

British Ceramics Biennial

Iliana Taliotis
British Ceramics Biennial 2019 at the China Hall of the original Spode factory, Stoke-on-Trent, Cast of Thousands installation by the school children of Stoke-on-Trent, photo Jenny Harper.

British Ceramics Biennial 2019 at the China Hall of the original Spode factory, Stoke-on-Trent, Cast of Thousands installation by the school children of Stoke-on-Trent, photo Jenny Harper.

I never imagined that I would fall in love with Stoke-on-Trent, but after 10 years of travelling up there for my work on the British Ceramics Biennial, that’s exactly what’s happened!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the British Ceramics Biennial - an amazing international ceramics festival, plus an ongoing programme of clay-based work in the city. There is so much to see in this year’s festival, which runs until 13 October - such as exhibitions and installations in the post-industrial former Spode factory site, soundscapes in the iconic Middleport Pottery, a performance pottery piece at World of Wedgwood and a brilliant exhibition of contemporary flat back ornaments at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. It’s so worth a visit and makes for a very special day out.

One BCB project that has really captured people’s imagination is called ‘Cast of Thousands’. Dotted all over the city are thousands of terracotta figures made by school children in Stoke-on-Trent. The aim is for every schoolchild in the city to create a figure. Totally brilliant.

Brown Betty

Cristina Schek

I have just bought a re-imagined Brown Betty teapot designed by the very talented Ian McIntyre. The Brown Betty is the archetypal teapot and one of Britain’s most familiar, everyday - and yet strangely uncelebrated - pieces of design. Ian has spent years researching its history and evolution and has come up with a re-engineered version that embodies and progresses the best DNA from the original, lifting this overlooked item into the 21st century.

The finished teapot has been made in Stoke-on-Trent (where it originated) in collaboration with Cauldon Ceramics using the same Etruria Marl red clay and Rockingham dark treacle glaze used in the original pots. Ian has even perfected the elusive non-drip spout, which makes the ritual of drinking tea all the more glorious. 

Under An Equal Sky

Cristina Schek

For the past few months I've been working with some extraordinary artists, Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg. They work predominantly in glass and in May opened an exhibition of large-scale installations throughout Canterbury Cathedral called 'Under an Equal Sky'. Each of the works has been created in dialogue with the building and the start of the show is pictured here. It's called 'Boat of Remembrance' and has been created from 100 glass amphorae that have been suspended in the Cathedral Nave in the shape of a ship. A truly breathtaking, moving and beautifully crafted piece of work. The exhibition continues until 6 January 2019.  


Cristina Schek

A car caught fire near my house recently. The car was destroyed, inevitably, and the flames from the fire damaged a few nearby things such as this fence. I have to say that the charcoal effect is rather beautiful - amazing patterns and textures and it almost looks like pewter.


Cristina Schek

I went on a site visit to Canterbury Cathedral recently; one of my clients, the artists Baldwin & Guggisberg, will be staging an exhibition of installations there at the end of May. As I walked into the building, the first thing I saw was an incredibly moving installation by war artist Arabella Dorman called 'Suspended'. It has been created from hundreds of items of refugee clothing found on the beaches of Lesbos. 

The Herdwick Stool

Cristina Schek

This is a cool collaboration. Selvedge magazine have brought together furniture designer and manufacturer, ercol and a start-up called Solidwool (the clue’s in the name) to create a new product – the Herdwick Stool.  This uses one of ercol’s most iconic creations, the Svelto stool, as a starting point with a solid seat created from bio-resin combined with the fleece of Herdwick sheep (the iconic breed of the Lake District).  Such an innovative new product, one that highlights the importance of finding new materials that connect to British heritage.


Cristina Schek

These wonderful, whimsical, folk-inspired characters have been created by an artist called Megan Ivy Griffiths. They have been made with such care, attention to detail and skill. I particularly love the lion pictured below. Handsome fellow.

The Rodd

Cristina Schek

Last week I took some journalists to The Rodd in Herefordshire – home of the Sidney Nolan Trust - for a sneak preview of Sidney Nolan’s studio before it opened to the public for the first time. When Nolan died in 1992, his wife Mary simply covered the benches in plastic and the space has been undisturbed ever since. The studio an extraordinary record of his use of materials and processes and one can spend a long time in there looking at all the fascinating bits and pieces.

The Rodd is a magical place, it was my second visit and I once again came away feeling completely inspired and revived! This photo shows Nolan’s favourite view. Apparently he would walk up to this spot every morning with a cup of coffee and spend some time taking it in. What a way to start each day.

Studio image courtesy of Alex Ramsay and the Sidney Nolan Trust

Lucienne Day 100

Cristina Schek

2017 seems to be a good year for creative centenary celebrations and I’ve been really enjoying following the Lucienne Day 100 activities. For the centenary campaign the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation has been gathering a really lovely online collection of people’s favourite Lucienne Day designs - from curtains, carpets and dresses to table linen and hand-stitched silk mosaics. What a wonderful way to get people involved in the celebrations and to highlight the relevance of great design in everyday lives. 

I'm ashamed to admit that I don’t yet own any of Lucienne Day's designs, but I do rather love this tea towel design from 1959, which has been reissued by design shop twentytwentyone to mark the centenary year.

Images courtesy of the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation

Grayson Perry

Cristina Schek

Collect, the Crafts Council’s international art fair for contemporary objects, opened last week with a fresh and vibrant new look. There were some extraordinary things on show, including these cut porcelain objects by Zemer Peled. One of the fair highlights was a display of Grayson Perry’s ‘The Essex House Tapestries’, which capture scenes from the life of Perry’s fictional character, Julie Cope. They’re incredibly vibrant, moving and humorous. 

Love Is The Answer...

Cristina Schek

It's London Art Fair again! I can't believe how quickly a year passes. I've been working with The Cynthia Corbett Gallery over the past few months and they show regularly at the fair. This year one of their highlights is a new work by Pop Artist Deborah Azzopardi called 'Love is the Answer...' It's a portrait of Amy Winehouse, which her parents asked Deborah to paint to help raise funds for the Amy Winehouse Foundation. It references Deborah's most iconic work, Sshh.


Image courtesy of The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, photograph by Cristina Schek


Cristina Schek

I recently discovered the work of a designer called Rachel Powell. I love the characters she’s created for her products, particularly Yoko, pictured below. Yoko’s smiling face can be found on screen prints, plates and even cushions.


Christmas Textiles

Cristina Schek

My last task of 2016 was a particularly enjoyable one: I took the Founder of Selvedge magazine, Polly Leonard to Woman’s Hour for an interview with Jenni Murray about the heritage of some of our favourite Christmas textile traditions. Polly talked about the origins of the Santa suit, stockings and ribbons – and even gave the Woman's Hour listeners instructions for making a bespoke Christmas tree fairy.


Cristina Schek

This autumn I worked on an exhibition with the RA called Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans. I have to admit that I hadn’t come across Ensor until I started working on the exhibition and thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in his weird and wonderful world. He’s a fascinating painter whose inspiration came mainly from a childhood surrounded by the treasures in his parents’ curiosity shop. This is the exhibition banner outside the RA showing a character from one of his most important works, The Intrigue.  

Switch House

Cristina Schek

I went to look at the Switch House for the first time the other day. I'd heard mixed reviews - people seem to love it or hate it. I love it. It feels like it's always been part of Tate Modern, except the space feels more tranquil than the rest of the building.

I love the shapes of the trees against the textured facade of the building in this picture:


Dick Bruna

Cristina Schek

I love Dick Bruna's children's books, each one is a little design classic. These days I tend only to see the Miffy books around, but yesterday I discovered these little gems in my parents' loft. They were first published in the 60s and these versions were greatly enjoyed by my brother and me in the 70s when we were kids. Such bold, vibrant colours and strong shapes. They are utterly charming.

Tibby's Triangle

Cristina Schek

  I was in Southwold recently and stumbled upon a modern housing development called Tibby’s Triangle, designed by Ash Sakula architects in 2008.

There are 34 houses on Tibby’s Triangle, including 10 affordable homes - referred to as 'pepper-potted', a phrase I'd never come across before. These houses are beautifully designed and socially-minded - and made me wonder why there aren't more modern developments like this.


Cristina Schek

I recently discovered these wonderful rag dolls made by a maker based in North Carolina called Jess Brown. Each doll is hand cut and stitched and their little outfits are made from various antique and vintage fabrics and treasures. This one is called Marigold. She can be bought from the Selvedge shop.