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Returns is an on-going collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and Sheffield Hallam University. It emerged from Topographies of the Obsolete, an international research project initiated in 2012 by Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway, which focused on the disused Spode ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

Taking the Spode site as ‘author’, the artists in Returns have conducted research through practice in a series of residencies and workshops. The project addresses the particular histories and the present state of the factory, amidst the wider context of post-industrial landscapes and their ruins. As manufacturing ceases or moves elsewhere, and buildings crumble, what becomes of these remains and the communities cast adrift by the receding tides of commerce?

The exhibition brings together artistic research from Andrew Brown, Chloë Brown, Joanne Lee, Danica Maier and Debra Swann. Recent Fine Art graduates Ciarán Harrington and Christine Stevens are producing new work ‘in-residence’ in Bonington Gallery during the exhibition.

Exhibition continues 12 February – 4 March 2015


RETURNS Discussion Workshops

Throughout the exhibition, a series of events will consider specific issues uncovered in Returns’ research through practice. Variously using presentations, conversation and practical activities, three discussion workshops bring together professionals and practitioners to reflect upon particular points of focus.

Digging through Dirt: Archaeology past, present, precious and unwanted 11 February, 1pm – 2.15pm

Referencing recent activities at Nottingham’s Lenton Abbey, the Island site and Stoke-on-Trent, Spode Works, this discussion will consider archaeology as a form of art practice, the archaeological dig experienced from an artists’ perspective and the ruin as site for artistic enquiry. Led by Andrew Brown. Participants: Anne Helen Mydland, Curator and Professor, Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway; George Miles, Photographer and academic, Nottingham Trent University; Rebecca Beinart, Artist, educator and activist, and Wasteland Twinning Project explorer

Artists will have your Ruin: Regeneration through the arts 18 February, 1pm – 2.15pm

The session brings together artists, gallery directors, studio managers and council developers from Nottingham, Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent, the three cities involved in the Returns research project, to consider how artists repurpose ruins and how creative practices breathe life into a city and its cultural economy beyond purely monetary gain. Led by Joanne Lee and Ciarán Harrington. Participants: Glen Stoker, Anna Francis, Co Directors, Airspace, Stoke on Trent; Michelle Bowen, Development Director, Primary, Nottingham; Matthew Chesney, Director, Backlit, Nottingham; Richard Bartle, Founder member and manager, Bloc, Sheffield; Peter Thompson, Development Programme Manager for Spode site, Stoke-on-Trent City Council


Ruins of Craft: Lost art of making 25 February, 1pm – 2.15pm

Taking as a context the three cities involved in the Returns project, and the loss of their craft-based industrial heritage – Nottingham’s lace and textile industry, Stoke on Trent’s ceramics factories and Sheffield’s metalworking – this session considers the disappearance of craft skills and its implications for contemporary decorative and fine arts. Led by Christine Stevens. Participants: Dr. Becky Shaw, Post Graduate Research Tutor in Art and Design, Sheffield Hallam University; Jude Wensley, Senior Lecturer in Decorative Arts, Nottingham Trent University; Andy Harris, Ceramics and Glass Technician, Nottingham Trent University.

If you would like to join us for a Discussion Workshop, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  The events are FREE but booking is essential as places are limited to facilitate discussion. More information on each event is available at

Published in Shout

Andrew Brown staged a sound walk with participants of NTU Fine Art's Winter Lodge, a research residency held in Ilam, Derbyshire, during December 2014.

Published in Shout

Documentary images from the 2015 Summer Lodge have been shown, for the first time, in an experimental display space made up of 14 digital information screens located in the Broad Marsh Bus Station pedestrian tunnel.

As part of the lodge students on the fine art course apply to act as documenters and are given access to all of the studios and workshops so that they can record activities during the two-week residency.  This year Ashley Hay documented the event, and a selection of his images have been visible at T14 during September.

Each year fine art staff, invited artists, local art groups and artists from other academic institutions (nationally and internationally) take over the fine art studios at Nottingham Trent University.

The Summer Lodge aims to develop speculative work, alongside a conference day, and support research-informed teaching that then feeds back into the university’s fine art delivery.



Published in Shout

The NTU Fine Art Summer Lodge is well underway with many of the Stillunresolved artists taking part in this 10 day residency.

The annual lodge is intended as an opportunity to think through making by being able to work for a while without many of the usual constraints and distractions. It is a collective space in which to undertake experiments, pursue new ideas and allow unexpected leaps of imagination.

View images of work from participating artists and visual reflections, day by day, as the lodge develops at

Published in Shout