Friday, September 22, 2017 - 14:30

The Whitegold Festival, a free celebration of china clay, will be returning to St Austell town centre on Saturday September 30.

The festival will be opened at 10.30am by renowned ceramics designer Emma Bridgewater with a welcome by Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project. Emma will also give a talk later in the day about contemporary ceramics design.

The festival is a day of hands-on workshops for all ages, ceramics stalls, exhibitions and displays inspired by the unique material that has shaped the landscape and culture around St Austell.

Whitegold is returning for its second year, following a successful debut in 2016. A clay oven built by Turkish ceramicist Betűl Katigӧz will be used to create wonderful food. The oven was built at Wheal Martyn Museum with the help of the attraction's visitors in August.

Jenny Beavan, a local ceramicist specialising in china clay, will be returning to the Whitegold Festival. Jenny will be running a workshop where visitors can learn to create something called Treasure Bowls – porcelain with china clay and glass on top of clay waves, symbolising the journey of Cornish china clay to far off shores.

Another local potter, Paul Jackson, will be inviting people to make their own work based on his current project which re-interprets the medieval carved fonts of churches around the Clay Country. Paul will also be exhibiting three contemporary fonts at the main site at White River Place.

There will be an exhibition at White River Place by Cornwall College students and large-scale photography from the china clay area by artists from Plymouth University.

Also new this year will be a chance to buy work from local ceramicists and craftspeople who work with Cornish materials, demonstrating the amazing levels of creativity that abound in the area.

Sir Tim Smit said: "We're really pleased to be bringing the Whitegold Festival back to St Austell this year. Our town was built on the china clay industry and it's a really important part of life here.

“There are reminders of our china clay heritage everywhere, from the Sky Tip that towers over St Austell to the Eden Project, which is built in a former china clay pit. Whitegold will celebrate this unique heritage and the arts and culture that it has inspired."

James Staughton, St Austell Brewery CEO, said: “The feedback we have had so far in anticipation of this year’s event has been very positive and we’re really looking forward to building on the success of last year’s inaugural festival. We are also absolutely delighted to welcome Emma Bridgewater for the opening ceremony; having such a pre-eminent ceramicist supporting us on the day will greatly increase the profile of the event and help it to reach a much wider audience.”

The Whitegold project is an initiative of the St Austell Bay Economic Forum with financial support kindly offered by St Austell BID, St Austell Town Council and FEAST. It has been further supported by Cornwall County Councillors Richard Pears Sally-Anne Saunders and Sandra Heyward.

Further in-kind support has been provided by St Austell Brewery, Imerys, the Eden Project, Cornwall College, Plymouth University, Wheal Martyn Museum and local artists. St Austell Bay Radio will be broadcasting live from the festival site for the day.