With Mike Webber, foremost Thames archaeologist, we regularly lead walks investigating ceramic fragments on the foreshore. Through pottery sherds found on the beach (shard = glass; sherd = pottery) Mike illuminates the development of London, of ceramic technology, the pottery industry and international trade relations from Roman times to the present.
“Many thanks to you all for a really wonderful and inspiring walk on Saturday. We had a brilliant time and Mike’s energy and enthusiasm were a real joy to experience!” Foreshore walker.
We also lead occasional workshops combining archaeology and decorative techniques such as slip trailing, stamp making and rouletting.
“Rouletting – it’s timeless – I wouldn’t have thought of it having Roman connections” “Amazing how far we’ve got really – and now we are looking at skills we’ve lost” Roman archaeology workshop participant.
“Great experience for a wide audience – both I (a creative) and my partner (technical marketing professional) thoroughly enjoyed it. We learnt practical techniques and historical/ scientific knowledge. A great team, successfully included people from all walks of life and age groups” Roman archaeology workshop participant.
To enquire about dates and to book, please contact Julia@claygroundcollective.org
Youth and Adult Community Groups
Youth and Adult Community Groups
Clayground leads skills workshops and creative projects with children from 8 upwards, young people and adult community groups. We work solely with institutions and youth group co-ordinators, rather than individual young people.
Clayground has worked with the following youth and community-focused organisations:
Oak Lodge School for the Deaf
Discover Storytelling Centre
A New Direction
Ikon Youth Programme: Slow Boat and Black Country Voyages
LOOK support group for visually impaired young people and their families
Camden Libraries reader and learner development groups.
Birmingham Ormiston Academy
Participants’ comments include:
“I liked feeling, using clay. If you do it wrong, you can correct it.”
“I liked being on the boat, near the water.”
“I liked the atmosphere of the studio, it was still and everyone was making.”
“Think it, dream it, build it!”
“I wish this happened every Saturday. I wish this happened every hour. I wish
this happened every minute. No, I wish it happened every nano-second!”
“I’ve drawn a coffee pot from where I come from – Ethiopia – these are traditional and we all drink from them. I miss them as you can’t get them here. Drinking coffee is a big part of our daily lives. We make the coffee ourselves – we fry the beans. The coffee pot is the colour of earth and the pattern is scratched in.”
Clayground has led clay skills workshops with the following groups of professionals:
Teacher Inset sessions during A New Direction’s pan-London Olympic Project
Imperial College Surgical Education Students
Arts Council England Visual Arts Team
Canal & River Trust
Teacher participants in the Crafts Council’s Firing Up Programme
Participants’ comments include:
“I’m interested in the association with contemporary technology – it’s full circle from touch to technology.”
“You are so very knowledgeable – the workshop is great.” ACE participant
“There are things we can all learn as craftsmen from other craftsmen in other areas that help us see our own craft differently. That’s what excites me so much about looking at these parallels.” Roger Kneebone, Professor of Surgical Education, Imperial College, Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow.
See the film of Professor Kneebone and Clayground’s Duncan Hooson in conversation: “What do clay skills teach?”
Clayground has led clay skills workshops with the following specialist art groups:
Crisis Skylight, Birmingham
Crisis London in partnership with London Sculpture Workshop at the Bermondsey Project.
Maudsley Mental Health Group at Morley Gallery
LOOK support group for visually impaired young people and their families working with students from Birmingham Ormiston Academy.
As well as teaching clay skills, wherever possible and appropriate, Clayground actively brings specialist art groups and other participants together to blur social boundaries and create connections, as in Birmingham with young visually impaired people from LOOK and students from Birmingham Ormiston Academy. LOOK members Matthew and Ben commented:
“It’s the students who I remember most – their amazement that a blind person could function in society at all, let alone doing it well, and making clay to boot! They’ve probably never met a blind person before” Matthew Horspool
“The fact that I could smooth it out and make something tangible that looks like something recognisable to them? It amazed them. It made them think about, and ultimately adjust, their perceptions of blind people.” Ben
An opportunity to work with London Sculpture Workshop and Crisis Skylight Art Group in London enabled us to create a course for Crisis members and other students. This was in experimental kiln construction as a focus for community celebration. The course was in three parts: making objects in clay aboard the Clay Cargo canal boat; constructing many kinds of kilns, from paper, shopping trolleys, bricks and ceramic fibre; leading a community celebration through firing of kilns.
“I was in a moribund place and now life is exciting. It’s about keeping an open mind as to what’s out there. It’s all about a state of mind. I’m doing loads of (art) courses at the moment. I’m getting ready to do an arts foundation/ textiles at Morley College. It has access to Chelsea Art College via UCAS so I’m set up for that. I thought this course would be all about making kilns out of bricks – I can’t believe you can make them out of shopping trolleys.” Male CRISIS member
Clayground’s public events and installations bring together people from different cultures and generations. Three generations are often seen working together.
We have staged events in Birmingham with Ikon to celebrate opening of the new City Library;to mark the unveiling of a new public artwork; to celebrate Birmingham’s architecture with RIBA; to explore a rural site with Ikon at Saltwells Nature Reserve, Dudley; to get hands-on with collections with Museum of London; to explore Stoke’s industrial heritage at Middleport Pottery. In London, a large-scale installation in Granary Square, King’s Cross, was Time-Out’s favoured family activity in August 2015.
“Me and my dad worked on this together. He gave me ideas and I gave him ideas” Boy
“Culture and clay. What more do you want?” Father
“This is the best thing I’ve seen in the centre of Birmingham.” Father
“This is so adventurous and clever.” Participant
“I love the fact you are doing this on a boat – you’d expect it in a museum or gallery – this makes it more special. I bet you get quite a different set of people coming.”
Clayground has worked in a significant number of schools to encourage development of clay studies and hand skills. We now welcome opportunities to train groups of teachers rather than working in individual schools with students. We are currently writing a book for educators in formal and informal education.
We regularly work with Ceramic Design students at Central Saint Martins – thought to be the only single-subject Ceramics BA course remaining in England and with student volunteers at galleries like Ikon, Birmingham, and at the British Ceramics Biennial, Stoke-on-Trent. We provide work experience, mentoring on clay context, ethics and practicalities of participatory working and access to our research strand, Thinking Hands?
“It’s an interesting project – it’s nice to be involved. It’s important making sure ceramics doesn’t disappear – I like the idea I am linking to schools – just because art (and ceramics) is off the curriculum it doesn’t mean that ceramics isn’t important and that there is a career in it.” Student
“There’s responsibility in having a skill – you can facilitate others and their learning experience – until this week I hadn’t realized how passionate I felt about it. I feel a responsibility to give other people the opportunity to pass on the skill.” Student
“The college can only provide participatory experiences by working with independent organisations like Clayground.” Kathryn Hearn, Ceramic Design, Central Saint Martins.