Today’s session was all about exploring the possibilities of clay. With very little guidance the group began to play about with a lump of clay. Instinctively members began to build, extend, grow, impress, indent, impress, loop, mold, press, pummel, pinch, pull, poke, roll, stretch, stack, stroke, score, scrape, thump, topple and smooth the clay as soon as it was put down in front of them.

To begin with we worked with no tools except our hands, later introducing found tools from the kitchen drawer. We also thought about how we might create small units: coils, containers, cones, cylinders, donuts, letters, leaves, pebbles, strips, sticks, squares, spheres and anything else the group could conjure up. We explored the clay’s material properties with no notion of what we might make.

Mid-way through the morning we looked at some images of how clay is used in our every day lives, from tea cups, to toilets, sewer pipes and bricks. We also looked at artists who push the material possibilities of clay, thinking not just about making representation objects but how what we make can reflect both the material and the physical processes of making.

We worked focusing on the tactile exploration, thinking more about the experience than outcomes and enjoying the process. We created some fantastic experiments and we wait to see if they survived the kiln, as they are going to be fired over the Easter break.

Take a look at the pinterest page for more inspiration

The brilliant ceramicist Nao Matsunaga will be exhibiting at the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham from 3rd April 2018 – do go and see the show if you can.

Masterclass with Gerhard Richter

We were delighted to host our National Saturday Club masterclass led by Asten Holmes Elliot from the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton. The morning explored the processes and thinking of artist Gerhard Richter.

The session began with an introduction to Richter, one of the 20th and 21st century’s most significant artists, focusing on his methods of layering paint over found photographs to distort, conceal and reveal elements within the original image. The group really engaged with this presentation, as most knew nothing about his work and enjoyed thinking about the possibilities of how a painter might explore a technique to express ideas as well as the obvious visual image.

Asten then gave us a mountain of found images to work with. We were given free reign to use the paint in any way we wished to alter the image. Taking Richter’s lead one club member devised a ‘squeegy’ from a magazine folded in two and used it to drag paint across the picture. Other members worked as a team to devise a collaged narrative, thinking about their intervention as a way of altering the meaning of the original image.

By the end of the morning we had created a whole gallery wall. Students discussed the work they felt was most successful and used this as the basis of their written response to the whole experience, enabling them to complete the first stage of their Arts Award.

A huge thank you to Asten and the John Hansard Gallery for this amazing masterclass.

There will be an exhibition of the work of Gerhard Richter at the John Hansard Gallery from 12th May 2018. We cannot wait!



Game play

This was our second session with Chris and Sam from Games Design and Art . Developing on from last week’s assembled characters, which combined humans, monsters, animals, sea creatures and fantastical beasts, we explored the kinds of worlds they might live in and how they might use their special powers for good or evil.

Chris introduced numerous game styles: puzzle, adventure, combat, shoot ’em up, simulation, strategy and role play. These styles were assigned to the group, who discussed their characters, how they might interact and what narratives their game might contain to hook in the player.

The members got so involved in their game development and created thoroughly plausible outcomes; from a rat being chased around a kitchen by a crazy chef, to an intergalactic war centred around a space diner, to escaping from a scientific laboratory.

Everyone’s ideas were pitched back to the group at the end of the session. There was so much thought put into these proposals – don’t be surprised if some end up as fully fledges games in the future.