Drawing in wet clay
Jon and a pupil experiment with wet clay
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Artist Jon Williams works with children at Beaufort School
Over the course of a year Jon Williams spent one day a week at Beaufort Special School in Birmingham exploring the material of clay with pupils and staff.
The key aspect of the project was based upon the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. Reggio places a greater importance on process and experimentation as opposed to a producing a finished outcome.
“It’s very much a material based approach – my job was to provide the children with a safe but exciting environment to experiment with clay in all it’s forms” said Jon. “Clay from the bag was rolled, pinched, torn and flattened. Thick, wet slip was smeared over hands and arms and over screens with projected images displayed on them. Slightly drier thrown pots were cut, bashed and disassembled – there were few barriers and the children were allowed to ‘work’ the clay at their own level.”
During the project the children were also given the opportunity to experiment with the potter’s wheel, often in surprising and unexpected ways. One child, uninterested by the wet clay, scraped different tools across the moving wheel-head to create a wide variety of noises – rather like a musical instrument.
The project was documented by Janette Bushell, Harmeet Chagger, and Anand Chhabra and a documentary film and photographs produced as a result. Theses moving images and photographs proved to be a fantastic tool for reflection, “As a workshop facilitator I only get to see a fraction of how the children are interacting with the material - being able to review each session in moving image meant for a deeper understanding of what was going on. In fact, it was the stills and video that inspired me to want to use some of the children’s techniques in my own work” said Jon.
Inspired by his time working with projects such as the Beaufort residency and his involvement with Craftspace’s Treasure Boxes early year’s project, Jon applied for and was successful in receiving, a prestigious Arts Council grant to enable Jon to develop his own work. Inspiration for Jon’s new work will be drawn from his extensive experience of working with young people. In particular, children with severe disabilities and learning difficulties.
The Beaufort clay residency was a Creative Partnerships initiative organised by Craftspace.
It’s very much a material based approach – my job was to provide the children with a safe but exciting environment to experiment with clay in all it’s forms.
Jon Williams, project artist.
For further details please contact Hazel Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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