Town Gas

A major commission by Artist Aaron Angell, Town Gas saw the construction of London's only publicly accessible gas fired kiln in collaboration with young people living in Hackney

Recipient of the inaugural Create Cities commission, Town Gas has seen the construction of London’s only publicly accessible gas-fire kiln based at Troy Town Art Pottery. Developed by London-based artist Aaron Angell the project worked with 20 local young adults aged between 17 and 24.

Angell founded the experimental ceramics studio Troy Town Art Pottery in 2013 in response to dwindling ceramics access in London. The pottery provides a space for artists to explore the practice of ceramics, removed from the idea of production and function that is embedded in the history of the medium. Town Gas has expanded this approach, introducing a new way of thinking about ceramics to young adults in east London.

The young people co-designed and worked through an experimental ceramics curriculum, which was delivered by Angell alongside high-profile guest artists including Emily McCartan, Samuel Nicolle, Rose de Borman and Matthew Peers. The group learned to hand build ceramics, create glazes and operate the gas kiln. The group have also been involved in talks, peer-to-peer learning mud larking and inspirational activities working with Tate St. Ives, The Leach Pottery, Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, Hoxton Halland PEER Gallery.

Their work was included in Tate St. Ives major spring exhibition ‘That Continuous Thing: Artists and the Ceramics Studio, 1920 – today co-curated by Aaron Angell. In August 2017 Create led a trip to St. Ives for members of the group to see their work on show and take part in a masterclass at the world famous Bernard Leach Pottery, led by artist in-residence Aaron Angell and other master potters.

You can see the film they made from their experience here.

In September 2017 Town Gas were part of Art Licks Weekend. The theme for 2017 was around finding solutions and space for artists to make work, since increasingly regeneration is forcing artists out of London. This was an opportunity for Town Gas to acknowledge their own use of shared space at Troy Town Art Pottery. They curated an exhibition of their work, had an official public opening and ran a public workshop welcoming over 70 visitors across the weekend.

Through Town Gas, members have also learnt to facilitate ceramic workshops for other people; promoting peer mentoring and intergenerational understanding. From January – October 2017 Emily McCartan and members of Town Gas co-delivered 23 ceramic taster workshops with 158 participants from local community organisations including: Huddleston Centre, Hackney Virtual School for Looked After Children, Artbox London, Rabbits Road Institute Conversation Club and PEER.

In 2017 we also extended our relationship with Hackney Virtual School for Looked After Children and organised an art summer school for 50 young people with partners uncluding ReachOut RCA, New North Press, Rabbits Road Press, PEER and Chickentown. This included workshops in experimental jewellery design, pottery, 3D scanning, letterpress printing, riso printing, paper theatre making and cooking.

‘Town Gas has been an unexpectedly, wonderful adventure. I thought I would need previous experience and that it would be for experts on ceramics but that’s totally not the case! I have learnt many things about working with ceramics and observed our new kiln being built, which is exciting. I have gained strong friendships, a practice I could apply to my studies and patience with myself as a creative. I can see Town Gas going far in the future and I can only wish them the best, hoping I can be there for every step of the way!’  Town Gas member Cynthia Waithaka

The Create Cities project is a commission that provides a leading artist with a major opportunity to deliver a project that will have a lasting impact on the life of a community. It is made possible by the support of Bank of America Merrill Lynch which, for the 9th consecutive year, has partnered with Create to support artists in east London.