Brickfield Newham

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Brickfield Newham is a creative partnership between the University of East London (UEL), V&A Research Institute (VARI), V&A East and Brickfield, an artist led, research and teaching project for local residents to part in during Newham Heritage Month. Join us for free special events, workshops and performances designed to encourage each of us to explore how clay has shaped east London, the homes and spaces wherein we live and work.

Dr Georgia Haseldine, Public Engagement Fellow at the V&A and Dr. Lynne McCarthy Senior Lecturer in Applied Theatre at UEL describe the project “Brickfield Newham seeks to bring communities together to question clay and experience the urban landscape by connecting people literally to the earth beneath their feet. In the context of decades of social displacement and regeneration, we are making bricks from Newham’s waste materials. Local building contractors have given us clay they are removing to build homes, Tate & Lyle have donated calcium carbonate, a by-product of the sugar whitening process, and we are using aggregate made locally from recycled demolished buildings. Working closely with students, we are creating a space where the borough’s architectural heritage and its sustainable futures can be explored through the body. By getting people together to make bricks and to make performances we hope to research together the labour of making and the preciousness of raw materials. This feeds into the wider V&A East project to place making centre stage and to become a sourcebook for us to collaboratively design for a better world.”

Founder of Brickfield, Rosanna Martin says “Brickfield is a long-term project based in a disused china clay pit on the outskirts of St Austell, one of the most economically deprived areas in the UK. Brickfield formed in 2018 at the site of a former Cornish brickworks on the banks of the River Fal. In 2019 support from Whitegold, an arts and regeneration programme, and Imerys, the owners of many clay extraction sites. There we met John Osborne, the last man to fire the last working beehive kiln in Cornwall. In 2020 Brickfield worked with John to document his extraordinary embodied skills, commissioning a film, a publication and photographs.”

Brickfield Newham has been born out of the V&A’s The Question of Clay research project exploring the history, significance and meaning of clay and ceramics and innovative ways of opening up the V&A’s collections to new audiences. The project is led by VARI / V&A East Public Engagement Fellow, Dr Georgia Haseldine, in collaboration with renowned Chicago-based artist and VARI Emeritus Fellow, Theaster Gates, and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Georgia and Theaster’s research and collaboration with local communities and students will help shape the development of V&A East, one of the UK’s most significant museum projects of the decade, which celebrates global creativity and that builds on the V&A’s long-standing heritage in east London and founding mission to make the arts accessible to all.

About the V&A 

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers, today, the V&A’s collections, which span over 5,000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform.

V&A East is one of the UK’s most significant museum projects of the decade V&A East celebrates global creativity and builds on the V&A’s long-standing heritage in east London and founding mission to make the arts accessible to all. Currently under construction in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Park, V&A East will create two new sites including a museum on Stratford Waterfront and a Collection and Research Centre at Here East.

The V&A Research Institute (VARI) was created with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, building on the V&A’s strong history of research and taking it into a new era. VARI supports a portfolio of research projects, programmes and positions, including Visiting Professors, Postdoctoral Fellows, Public Engagement Fellows and Artists in Residence, creating a unique research environment. VARI offers an innovative arena for developing interdisciplinary collaborative research that is both collections-based and object-focused. Improving both access to and visibility of V&A collections and research, VARI aims to produce not just new knowledge, but also new methods.

University of East London

The University of East London prepares its students for the jobs of the future. It has been pioneering futures since 1898, from the Second Industrial Revolution through to where we are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Located in one of the world’s most multi-cultural areas, the University’s 15,000-plus students are a microcosm of this diversity, representing 150 different nationalities. With London campuses in Stratford and in Docklands, it is at the heart of the industrial and creative shift east, and a powerful global gateway.

Vision 2028, the University’s 10-year strategy, aims to create a 4.0 Education for learners: producing graduates with the skills, tools and competencies sought by employers and entrepreneurs in a rapidly changing world.

The University is careers-led and dedicated to ensuring its students have the skills, emotional intelligence and creativity necessary to adapt to a constantly-evolving world and its technology.

The University of East London provides one of the top campus experiences in London, with riverside residence halls, world-class sporting facilities which hosted Team USA during the 2012 Olympics, and a supportive community where everyone is encouraged to become leaders, contributors to society and agents for change.

Brickfield Newham's Records
33 Factory Road, Royal Docks, London E16 2HB
May 2021

Brickfield Newham is a community research project that questions clay and its importance to the urban landscape by connecting people literally to the earth beneath their feet. Communities from across...


Brickfield Newham's Events
Saturday 29 May 10am & 1pm Sunday 30 May 11am & 2pm

How many bricks can you make in an hour?! Come join us for this outdoor workshop to find out, and enjoy a live theatre performance too. All ages welcome. FULL DETAILS +

  • Free
  • All Ages
Saturday 29 May 8-10pm & Sunday 30 May 8-10pm

Join us for a twilight theatre performance at the Brickfield Newham community brickworks in Royal Docks to see new work made by MA Performing Arts students from the University of... FULL DETAILS +

  • Free
  • Adults

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1 - 31 May 2021