Do you have any ideas for project concepts for the CWS project? Yes! I enjoy working with young people and would love to help them develop their skills and learning. One idea is to engage with students about what is important or creatively exciting to them, then develop a theme or narrative to create an object with meaning. I would like to explore themes like: "What makes you happy?", "Resting Places", "Changing Perspectives/Changing Tastes", "Time – The Awesome Phenomena", "What Connects us to our Ancestors?", "Making Objects out of Stories", “Exploring the Senses” and similar.
I would also like to utilise the program to up-skill my professional practice. I have had some exciting conversations with (part-time) local and I.T. expert, Julian Kennard. Julian is currently looking at running some classes through the Talbot library to encourage the utilisation of a 3D printer, housed at the library but currently not in use. The software is apparently very easy to use and suitable for students grade 4 and above. It would be awesome if I could spend some time learning how to use the software and then apply that knowledge, not only in the school but also in my own studio practice.
These ideas could be integrated into the curriculum through classes such as: maths (via weights and measures), science (through the process of glazing and firing ceramics), cultural or historical studies (the ceremonial/ritualistic use of pottery and changing art styles through the ages) and technology (3D printing).
I would like to brainstorm students thoughts and ideas around the themes suggested above (here a poet or creative writing co-worker would be amazing) and then develop a plan to work out how to create an object from clay with them.
I believe there is value in discussing these topics while using clay as a medium to give form to feelings and thoughts. Often children (people) can tap into deeper ideas when they are using their hands and I have found clay to be a versatile and forgiving medium. I would really love to work with the students to make a body of work that could be displayed in the school to create a space of beauty and quiet reflection.
I have had some preliminary conversations with Krista Barnes (Principal at Talbot Primary) and she has expressed a welcoming desire to have me work in the school. We discussed the possibility of using term 2 to research and develop a plan that could be delivered in term 3. This is in response to the schools other commitments during term 2. I am quite happy to be flexible in this way and am available to work my schedule to accommodate such a plan.
3D printer in use. Photo courtesy of Julian Kennard
Please tell us about any previous experience working with young people in a school setting. In addition to the pottery classes with Talbot primary students (making Christmas decorations), I have taught children's classes privately from my studio, through the Clunes Neighbourhood House and also through Hepburn Shire Council.
Neighbourhood house classes were 'drop in' styled and were open to adults also. We all shared a working space and tools were brought in each week from my studio for everyone to share. The emphasis of these classes was creative expression and I felt my role was to assist with any technical questions rather than instruct any direction. The children were usually very proud of the things they made.
The Hepburn Shire classes were part of a school holiday program and were held in local libraries throughout the shire. My role was to facilitate the children in using clay to make an ephemeral object. They were shown basic building techniques and invited to make a pot that they could put seeds in at home. The pot would melt into the garden over time, creating a habitat for the seed to germinate in and they could watch as their plant grew. I tried to make this a nurturing project that they could connect with much later after the class had finished.
Talbot Primary School Students with their ceramic Christmas decorations, 2018
Other relevant information: When I was working with the Central Goldfields Shire Council in the Story Seats project, I was engaged with young teenagers at GELC (Goldfields Education and Learning Centre) in Maryborough. This was a part time role and workshops were spread over a two week period. The students each made and decorated a ceramic cup based on the "Alice in Wonderland" theme. These were then fired at my studio and returned to them in the classroom a few weeks later.
I am interested in working with young people to encourage them to look within themselves to find places where they can rest, be creative and nurture themselves. I believe this is an invaluable skill for everyone and especially helpful when life presents its' inevitable challenges.