Stoking Curiosity

The Stoking Curiosity Festival took place on 22-23 November 2019 at the historic Spode Works in Stoke-on-Trent. With over 90 activities over two days and 700 visitors including local school groups, the festival provided the opportunity for curious encounters with a range of both University and community-led projects.

The Repository of Curiosities curated by Stoke-on-Trent Poet Laureate Stephen Seabridge with artists from Entrepreneurs Network received 170 contributions from people sharing their interests, their hopes for the future and things they would like to learn. ‘Think on Trent’ presented a Shot of Science and a Bite of Science series of mini presentations and lectures covering subjects including ‘Evolving Robots’, ‘Can we fix a broken Spinal Cord’, ‘Stars in Extreme Environments’ and ‘How to Find a Dead Body’ to school groups and visitors to the festival.

Visitors were also able to discover outer space within the Stardome; have fun in the Playground of Illusions; find out what ice can tell us about the world and climate change; interact with a Living Library; have a go at Improv Comedy and singing; learn about Game Theory and curiously explore the festival site on a series of creative walks – one led by a dog! There were many more things to curiously explore over the two days.

Stoking Curiosity was originally conceived and led by Keele University as part of the Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER) grant. The festival is co-produced and co-organised by a partnership between Keele and Staffordshire Universities, the communities of Stoke-on-Trent, the Spode site including the Spode Heritage Museum Trust, the Potbank and ACAVA studios and YMCA North Staffordshire, All the Small Things, CiC and the Cultural Education Partnership. With support from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Arts Council England and Higher Horizons+.


Artist/Scientist Commission

As part of Stoking Curiosity 2019 we commissioned three artists from Acava Studios at Spode to share their practice with Think on Trent and explore three areas of science. From this three new developmental collections of work have been created. 
Part 1
Loop. Sustainable textile & embroidery.  
An interpretation of Binary Stars by Amy Davis, textile artist and Nikki Miller, Postgraduate Researcher in astrophysics at Keele University
Part 2
If at first. Ceramic. 
Exploring Evolutionary Robotics with Emma Price, ceramic artist and Dr Adam Stanton, Computer Sciences at Keele University. 
Part 3
Untitled. Fluorescent spray paint on canvas. 
An artists interpretation of cells through a microscope. Dan Southward, multidisciplinary fine artist and neuroscientists Emma Green, Yolanda Gómez Gálvez and Aina Mogas Barcons.

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