The town of my birth, Stoke on Trent, is busily turning itself into a giant demolition site, under the auspices of what the City Council like to call "regeneration". Everywhere you turn a new fenced-in empty space has appeared overnight. I suppose I should take an optomistic view and believe that change is a good thing - the city is certainly a lot cleaner than it was when I was a child - but somehow I can't help but look at these urban deserts and hear the distant voices of the of my ancestors, who gave their lives to make the creative, exploitative, desease-ridden, hell-hole that was "The Potteries" famous the world over and make a few men and their families very rich.
All the video footage for this project was filmed during the spring of 2006 on the sites upon which stood the factories ("Potbanks" as we call them around here) of the greatest names in the pottery industry. But, you may say, these companies still exist - you can still go into the finest stores in the world and spend a fortune on their wares - what has happened?
While Stoke on Trent is constantly recognised as one of the poorest, most deprived areas of the country, the big names - the companies made rich by the endless toil of "potters" over centuries - have packed up and gone East, in search of an even cheaper labour force to exploit. But never fear! Those demigods who make the decisions for us mere mortals have the answer - Executive Apartments! - or possibly Retail Parks! - in the words of a famous time traveller - Fantastic! We can now rest easier in our beds in the knowledge that a few lucky David Brents will have nice places to live and a great choice of cloned chain-stores from which to buy their plasma screen TVs while the rest of us struggle to get by in a one of the poorest cities in the country.
I was very pleased to receive assistance from the Spode china company, who kindly allowed me to record much of the audio content of "Outsourced" in their 200 year old factory in Stoke. Sadly even this site has been sold to developers and soon another major part of our cultural heritage will fall prey to the bulldozers.
This video is dedicated to all those men, women and children who made "The Potteries" a unique place - a city with a soot-blackened pride in its existence - a place you were proud to come from.
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