Never underestimate the power of clay… I did!
I have come from a digital background; my practice consists of working with multiple screen based media. The fluidity from camera to screen, to manipulation, to projection is slick, clean and instant. This juxtaposition from clay couldn’t been more of a contrast. I foolishly believed that clay was just a brown, messy piece of rock that would get stuck under your nails and make your hands go dry.
I had always appreciated that clay was a traditional medium and has been used for centuries; forming artifacts that have captured our history through time. However, I never had an opportunity to use clay before now and therefore, didn’t pursue the medium.
As an artist I have a thirst to explore and experiment with new materials; and now I have been given the chance to explore ceramics in depth. The one question what situates in my mind, is how can I incorporate clay into my teaching practice?
Having little to no knowledge I researched and researched. I found a vast variety of artists, styles and a sea of new terminology. I came across pots and plates and then finally discovered the pinch pot technique. This basic technique had the ability to produce an assortment of animal forms, one in particularly that I really liked was the pinch pot fish. I felt that this wide mouthed, bursting eyed character would be so much fun to create; whilst learning about the fundamental principles of clay.
I created an entire scheme of work based around ceramics and the pinch pot method. I was getting excited about this new language that was forming like wedging, firing and bloating. My scheme of work was attached to a pre-existing title called ‘Under the Sea’. Naturally the pinch pot fish related perfectly. The context behind this scheme of work was to explore, the power that art has to make people aware of issues. This linked to our concept on water pollution, we were creating our shouting (due to their wide mouths) pinch pot fish to raise awareness of water pollution and what the ‘fish’ have go to say about it.
I structured the scheme of work meticulously by researching, creating and documenting each stage of how to sculpt the fish. The attraction of this project is that all students, no matter what their ability can produce a quirky fish from clay. They were formed by rolling, pinching, slip and scoring. Some of the lower ability responses were misshaped and out of proportion but this was ok, when we presented them all these imperfections gave their fish a quirky character, they looked just as fabulous as the perfectly proportioned ones. The students were fully submerged into this project and it was really fun to teach.
This proved why it is so important to explore new mediums. I have thoroughly enjoyed extending my practice into the depths of ceramics. My view on clay has been transformed although I still agree that it gets stuck under your nails and make your hands go dry. However, with a fun and exciting project running behind it, it was definitely worth it…
… and as a result, I now have an army of pinch pot fish ready to shout out about environmental issues.