Clay Houses

Yesterday I went out on an art teacher’s CPD event organised through the Birmingham Artist Educator network, 4MAT UK. We took a trip on the Ikon Gallery’s barge to make clay houses, part of the Black Country Voyages art programme. The lead artist on this project this year is Mahtab Hussain and his project is called The Auspicious Journey. He has used the barge as a vehicle for exploring ideas about the displacement of people from his homeland in Kashmir in the 1960’s resulting from the construction of the Mangla Dam. Many of the affected people did not move on to the nearest settlement in Kashmir, but came to the UK to find work around the Black Country canals. You can find more information about the project here.

The day was a great opportunity to relax and spend some time making – it’s a long time since I last used clay; it was very therapeutic, especially throwing it at the start to get rid of the air bubbles. It was also a great chance to chat and network in relaxing surroundings with other artist educators from the region; Emma, a fellow sketchbook circler; Lisa and Karen from last year’s Artist Teacher Scheme; Emma from the Ikon Gallery; Philip, part-time skipper and art therapist.

The workshop started me thinking about my own work in new ways too; where to go with my tubes made out of drawings and written extracts; new ways of making my mark on paper and on the world; new materials to try. I am pondering ideas about making my tubes out of clay, and the interactive, inclusive element of asking members of the public to make pieces for a project.

Next week I finish my job and take a step out into the unknown; I will be a freelance artist educator. I am scared and excited but am looking forward to the challenges and the changes, and seeing how these manifest themselves in my art practice. I will certainly have lots to write about in my notebook, lots of thoughts to illuminate, lots of ideas to make into tangible objects.

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