Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has teamed up with a local potter and sponsor to mark a milestone anniversary for the borough in the country’s largest horticultural campaign.
Black Star Ceramics, based in Baldwins Gate, has produced and donated a bespoke sign to help celebrate 30 years of success for Newcastle-under-Lyme in Britain in Bloom.
The vibrant and floral sign – the company’s largest build to date – is made up of 84 hand painted ceramic tiles and includes hidden details relating to wildlife.
It has been created by company founder Ian Minshull (main picture), an experienced ceramicist who has worked for the world famous Royal Doulton, Beswick and Paladin.
The painstaking production process took approximately four weeks to complete, with Ian going through individual and time consuming processes such as rolling out the clay, cutting the tiles, engraving the design, drying the tiles, firing them in the kiln, glazing and cleaning them followed by the final assembly.
The special feature is now taking pride of place in the old carpet bed area at the front of St Giles’ Church in Newcastle town centre and is enhanced with colourful planting. Ian also sponsors the area as part of the Newcastle in Bloom campaign.
Councillor Jill Waring, Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, said: “When Ian heard about Newcastle’s special anniversary in Britain in Bloom, he couldn’t wait to get involved and produce a bespoke piece to mark the milestone. The sign is absolutely fantastic – we couldn’t have wished for anything better. We’re very lucky and grateful to accept this wonderful donation from such a talented ceramicist who has gone above and beyond to support the bloom campaign. The potteries is in our blood so I’m sure residents and visitors will appreciate this kind gesture for years to come.”
Black Star Ceramics, established in 2016, prides itself in making unique, handmade items using traditional techniques such as slip casting or hand throwing on a wheel. It sources materials and tools from local businesses.
Ian, 45, said: “I’m delighted to donate the sign in addition to sponsoring the bed. We’ve had so much support from the local area as a business, and we live in the borough as well, so it’s really nice to give something back. I love my job. I’ve made many things over the years but I love challenging myself and have always wanted to do something bigger like this. I’m really pleased with how the sign has turned out. It’s in a really nice place, one of the gateways into the town, so it should hopefully be seen by a lot of people. It’s aimed at pedestrians as well as motorists. I hope everyone likes it.
“Both me and my partner are keen gardeners and enjoy wildlife so we really appreciate the Newcastle in Bloom campaign and what it stands for.”
Newcastle-under-Lyme first entered Britain in Bloom as a small city in 1991. In 2018 it was named the overall winner of Heart of England in Bloom for the third consecutive year and in 2017 secured Gold and category winner in the national finals. The borough also competed in the national Champion of Champions category in 2018, achieving a gold award, the highest accolade in the campaign.
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