New sculpture: Monstrance One

In the Summer of 2019 Mike began working on a series of mixed media (Ceramic, wood, lead) sculptural pieces. These photos show some of the process by which the first of these sculptures was made. It is called ‘Monstrance One’.

“I say new work but in fact the piece has had a gestation period of several years. It is an eclectic work in so far as its inspiration comes from a number of sources including my childhood, Catholicism, industrial surfaces and African sculpture, I call it Monstrance One because other works with the same motif are being planned.” said Mike

A monstrance, also known as an ostensorium is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches for the exhibition of objects of piety. It is also used as a reliquary for the public display of relics.

The photos show Mike casting the central part of the sculpture using lead and various found metal objects such as screws and nails along with images of the finished piece. The piece is due to go on public display as part of the forthcoming SCAR: From the Rich Earth exhibition at Valentines Clays in Stoke on Trent from October 3rd 2019.

New Work inspired by ancient rock carvings

June 2019 - Dave has embarked on a new series of pieces using as its starting point ‘Cup and Ring’ images carved onto stones in various parts of Britain and Europe.

“I first came across these ‘Cup and Ring rock carvings at Gardoms Edge near Baslow in Derbyshire in the 1980s’ and over the years I’ve visited other sites across the UK with similar rock art. No one knows what the markings signify although speculation includes the worship of the Sun and the Moon.” said Dave.

The enigmatic carvings are found in many of the countries on the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, Scandinavia but also parts of the Mediterranean. Many date back to the Neolithic period while others date from the Bronze age.

“I’ve used this motif before in some of my paintings, but its interesting to see how the ideas have developed, and in particular how they have used them in my ceramic art.”.

The rock carvings include concave depressions, sometimes only a few centimeters across which appear to have been ‘pecked’ into the rock,. Others involve carved concentric rings some of which are broken by linear carvings. Some look like horse shoes while others resemble ‘maze’ like images.

“As with much of my work I have used found objects such as discarded packaging materials and wood bark to create some of the shapes and textures. It is never my intention to copy, but to use these enigmatic carvings as a starting point. These pieces have no narrative other than the one concerned with their making. These pieces have been produced in a more expressionist way but as with much of my work I am especially concerned with colour, texture and balance.” said Dave

Examples from this series will be on display at the SCAR: From the Rich Earth exhibition being held at Valentines Clays in Stoke on Trent from Oct 3rd to November 29th 2019.


SCAR: From the rich earth

Exhibition October 3rd - November 29th 2019

“We are really excited to be part of the SCAR group and to be taking part in the group’s exhibition at Valentine’s Clays in Stoke-on-Trent.” said Dave Harper.

The group includes: Ian Pearsall, Lindsay Bainbridge, Dave Proudlove, Lindy Martin, Rebecca Perry, Mike Cain and Dave Harper.

The work will include ceramics, paintings, sculpture. and video.

The exhibition is part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Valentine Clay’s.



Happy Christmas 2018

Mike and Dave would like to wish all our friends, supporters and website visitors a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year.

2019 promises to be an exciting one in terms of the work Mike and Dave are producing and there will be news of a new exhibition.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news.


May 2018 - Saga Magazine

We hope you'll find this story about us in the May issue of SAGA magazine of interest.


April 2018 - Preview of New work

Below is a preview of our latest ceramic work. The six pieces are just a small taste of what we've been up to over the last few months. We've also been working on some new paintings and pieces of sculpture. 

our First Blog Post

February 10th 2018

Although called the Penkhull Artist Potters Association, we don't just make ceramic art. Both Mike Cain and Dave Harper work in a variety of media including print making, painting, photography and photo-collage. Below is the first in series of photo-collage pieces from Mike. This triptych is called 'Upright form in landscape'. It is a limited edition of twenty-five.

This work is featured in the our first blog post - 'The Power of the Motif' - in which Mike discusses being influenced by the artist Paul Feiler and the unconscious power of the upright form, as a starting point for much of his work. More blogs are in the pipeline.   

Upright form in landscape - Limited edition of twenty five by Mike Cain


Mike at Mellards - New exhibition opens at restored ironmongers warehouse

February 1st 2018

"Much of Mike's work has a raw, industrial quality. It seems to share the same aesthetic sense as the building." Val Newman - Mellards

Its been sympathetically restored, has a friendly atmosphere plus a good range of craft beers and cocktails. But Mellards in Newcastle under Lyme is offering something that other bars don't usually sell - Art. The former ironmonger’s warehouse on Market Lane has launched a 'rolling exhibition' of paintings and prints by local artist and founder of the Penkhull Artist Potters Association, Mike Cain.

Bar owner Bill Mercer said “Although much of Mike’s work is abstract its inspiration is drawn from the Potteries and its people. Much of it has an industrial feel and we think it adds something special to what we’ve created here at Mellards.”

"Over the years I've exhibited in all sorts of places but never in such a unique space as here at Mellards. The building is amazing and not all of it has been opened to the public yet. This is a great opportunity for me to reach a new audience and show my work to people who perhaps rarely visit art galleries." said Mike Cain.

Mellards had been unused and semi-derelict for decades before being restored by former lecturer Bill Mercer. But it was his wife, Val Newman who first saw Mike's work and thought it would be a great addition to the newly opened bar.

"A friend of mine had been to the Penkhull Artist Potters Association exhibition at the Spode Museum in Stoke, and although that was a group show largely based around ceramic art, it included some of Mike's paintings and prints.  My friend bought a few pieces and as soon as I saw them I knew they would be a good fit for Mellards." Said Val Newman.

Val arranged to meet Mike and not only bought several pieces, which are on display at Mellards, but also offered him the chance to hold a rolling mini exhibition.

"Much of Mike's work has a raw, industrial quality. It seems to share the same aesthetic sense as the building. We wanted to give the bar a unique feel and although the work has only been on display a few days we’ve already had a really positive reaction from our customers." Said Val Newman

Mike attended the Burslem School of Art in the late 1950s and works across a range of media including painting, sculpture, print making, photography and ceramics. Two of his works on display at Mellards celebrate the life of Fred McGuiness who built up a vast scrap metal business at Longport. The pieces are called 'Totem for a Local Hero’. They are limited edition screen prints which have been constructed using photographs of scrap and old cars actually taken at the yard.

Mellards, which is tucked away just off the Iron market is a landmark building with a secure future thanks to Bill Mercer. “I used to walk past Mellards and think what a shame such a beautiful piece of our industrial heritage was being allowed to fall down. I used to fear I’d come along one day and find that it had been bulldozed. So when it came up for auction I thought now’s my chance to bring it back to life.”

Bill had the vision, drive and commitment needed to oversee the project, which took several years to complete. The building has now been restored and given a new lease of life and opened as Mellards bar just before Christmas 2017.

“We’ve done our best to keep as many of the original features as possible, while at the same time making the interior useable and enhancing its industrial Victorian feel. I think Mike's paintings compliment the restoration but have also add something extra." said Bill.

Less than half the building is currently open to the public, with a large ground floor space and several upper floor rooms undergoing some final restoration work.

"We have plans to make Mellards more than just a bar. From the 1st to the 4th of March we plan to hold our first Beer Festival here, in collaboration with Hopwater Cellar and Fire and Slice Pizza. We'll have 15 to 20 craft beers and around 200 bottle beers." said Bill

Val Newman added "We've got some great spaces here at Mellards which would work well for small scale music gigs such as Jazz and Blues or other types of music. There is a lot of potential here to boost the local arts and music scene."

There are plans for Mike to bring other pieces of his work to the bar over the coming months so that the exhibition evolves and develops further.

"I'd like to thank Bill and Val for giving me the chance to show my work at Mellards. The industrial past and how it now presents itself is a strong influence on what I do as an artist. The artefacts of the industrial revolution: the canals, roads, bridges, machines and factories, for me possess a kind of integrity. This integrity manifests itself in the way materials are used and juxtaposed and in turn this translates into a powerful aesthetic." said Mike Cain

Twitter feed LAUNCHED

January 2018

Follow us on Twitter @Penkhullartists

During 2018 we plan to add more content to our website and and start using social media, and it begins with the launch of our Twitter feed at the end of January followed by Instagram shortly afterwards.

"2017 was a really busy year for us, not only reagarding our first collection of work, but also in terms of securing and mounting our first exhibition. We have equally ambitious plans for the future and hope everyone will continue to support us by following us on social media.” said Dave

Follow us on Twitter @penkhullartists

Follow us on Twitter @penkhullartists

A Merry Christmas & A happy new year from The Penkhull Artists  

December 2017


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"Our first year and our first group exhibition wouldn't have been the success it was without our families, friends and supporters. We'd like to thank everyone who helped us, and we now look forward to new challenges and our continued success in 2018." 

Dave Harper - Penkhull Artist Potters Association

Staffordshire Life Magazine

November 2017

The November 2017 edition of Staffordshire Life caries the story of the launch of the Penkhull Artist Potters Association.

The November 2017 edition of Staffordshire Life caries the story of the launch of the Penkhull Artist Potters Association.


Media coverage of Our first group exhibition

The Sentinel - September 2017