Last week saw the inaugural Stoking Curiosity festival take place at the historic Spode Works factory site in Stoke-on-Trent. Led by Keele University, the two-day festival, which included over 50 activities, brought together people from across Staffordshire, and further afield, to get involved in research and to debate the big issues that affect them, their communities and the wider world. Exhibitors included academics, artists, creative thinkers and curious people from the local area, all passionate about exploring and sharing knowledge more widely.
The festival was free to attend, and activities included playful approaches to making people curious about solutions to plastic waste and exploring the possibilities of futuristic prosthetics. Visitors could experiment with the science of ceramics, make clay countercoins and take part in screen-printing workshops. They experienced using virtual reality to travel to a new planet and design a healthy world, and see and comment on art installations and ‘cabinets of curiosities’. Many visitors also participated in talks and discussions about social issues, and the role of arts and culture in strengthening our social connections. The taster Pint of Science sessions in the bar attracted a large audience, as did the display of Progressive Prosthetics.
Visitors reported feeling 'amazed and surprised', with many saying they were motivated to get involved with more activities in their community, as a result of the festival.
Stoking Curiosity was co-organised by a partnership between Keele and Staffordshire Universities, the communities of Stoke-on-Trent and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Activities took place in the Potbank and Spode Heritage Museum, while across in the Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art (ACAVA) studios, many artists opened their workspaces to the public attending the festival.
Keele University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, Professor David Amigoni, said:
"We were delighted to stage, with our partners, this opportunity to promote curiosity and knowledge exchange across the arts and the sciences, given the passion for creativity that was unleashed by Stoke-on-Trent’s recent bid to be City of Culture. Our festival was one of the legacy projects arising from that bid, and we’re committed to developing and growing it as an annual event."