The Staffordshire Panther, 2012

Porcelain, grasses, Oasis foam, wood, video, ink on board

Installation in the AirSpace Gallery window, following 7 day residency with the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Part of Conjunction 12, The Art of Survival

Museum curator Ian Vines took me to the stores, dowsing for the right object. A 300 million year old tree; ‘Fossils Unknown’; the head of a prize bull – the thing that stuck was on the Peruvian shelf. A black pot with a double tubular spout and the burnished face of a panther. Strange. I was thinking of the pot as a real panther.

I was reading The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane, he described seeing a Big Cat on the Marlborough Downs. Travelling in on the train from Macclesfield, where I grew up, to Staffordshire, I was looking up sightings in the area. Looking out into broadleaf woodland, I came across Keith Mansfield’s account of his sighting nearby (just through the trees) at Rudyard Lake.

Keith’s account, including a shaky, watery video clip and my painting of his google map of the walk he was on that day, plus the remnant material from the making, helped form the new story for the panther head. My porcelain facsimile was the centre of a diorama showing a Staffordshire panther in its habitat.

Photography, Glen Stoker