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Creative students remember ‘The Lost Boys’ of World War 1 through ceramics

24th May 2016

Students studying the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) have been working on a project in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and British Ceramics Biennial (BCB). 

Creative students remember ‘The Lost Boys’ of World War 1 through ceramics

The project, which will reveal the stories and memories of those under age soldiers from the North Staffordshire Regiment during World War 1 (WW1), was set-up by artist Professor Stephen Dixon from MMU, to remember ‘The Lost Boys’ through commemorative ceramics.

At the outbreak of World War 1, the legal age limit for armed service overseas in the British Army was 19 years, yet by the end of the war an estimated 250,000 underage soldiers between the ages of 14 and 18 had signed up for/seen active service.

Built upon current academic and practice-led research into the social history and legacy of the Great War by MMU, the project will focus on the geographical location of Staffordshire, due to its historical connections to the ceramics industry.

NULC students began by researching Major Cecil Wedgwood, who was the first Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent and killed in action at the Battle of Somme, and pottery workers who were also enlisted during WW1. They began their research at The World of Wedgwood in Barlaston, by searching through archives to uncover previously untold stories and to discover if there were any under-19-year old soldiers from Staffordshire who went to France during WW1.

Students were then asked to portray their findings in ceramics by producing artwork for commemorative plates, which included uncovered letters to relatives back home and interpreting scenarios into illustrations.

Cheryl Smith, Curriculum Leader in Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at NULC, said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for our students. We really wanted to provide the students with an industry-led live brief. When we were approached by BCB to ask for our involvement, the students were really excited.”

Year 10 school pupils from Sir Thomas Boughey High School have also been involved in the project and supported NULC students with their creations.

Ceramics produced by NULC students and Sir Thomas Boughey High School pupils are now on show in the College’s £60 million campus until Friday 20 May, when they’ll be moved to an exhibition at The Special Collections Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University from the 13 June for two months.

Katie Leonard from British Ceramics Biennial, said: “As part of this project, BCB have created opportunities for young people to engage in ceramics, archive research and heritage visits to support the creation of artworks. The students from the College have been brilliant and their contribution to the project has been outstanding.

For more information contact Joe Hambleton, Marketing & PR Officer in 01782 254265 or email


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