Focus on: clay

Our focus at The Pop for the last two weeks has been the medium of clay. I love clay because it’s so readily malleable and sculptural and there are so many exciting things one can do with glaze! I consider myself a lifetime student of all things muddy.

Clay immediately gets children thinking three-dimensionally, and is really an exercise in 3D drawing. Last week I asked one of my students if she would like to produce a sketch that she could use as a reference to her clay form, to which she replied “I can already see it in my head”. I find these sorts of responses really interesting and insightful of my children’s artistic processes.

Having said that, children do tend towards impatience, for example I had a three week ceramics project planned for my Thursday group (which consists of mainly Years 3s and Year 6s). I planned for the first week to be a practice and play of fundamental techniques but I made the mistake of explaining the project brief and the younger kids went headlong into it and completed the build. This leaves me with the very creative challenge of dealing with my Year 3s next week when they tell me “But I’ve already done it!”

An art practice consists of both task-based projects and self-directed explorations. It’s through a combination of both that kids (and adults too) can continue to develop their creative response whilst expanding their technique and vision. (Now I’ll just have to see how this rationale fares with the kids when they are next in!)

A little bit about the artist whose work I feature in this article: Jesse Wine (b. 1983) is a British artist living in New York. Jesse is pretty sought after right now and he’s one of those able to make a decent living out of his work. He works primarily with ceramics although he says he’s never taken a ceramics class. I see a lot of similarity between the way Jesse works and my students at The Pop, there’s a high level of experimentation and a “let’s just give it a go, see how it falls together” type of attitude. I often find art is best made when its intuitive – overthinking can lead to the dreaded ‘artist block’ and furthermore in ceramics, it is often difficult to predict the end outcome. The link below is an interview with Jesse for those who would like to know more about his process:

Jesse Wine – Why I Create | art | Phaidon

Image above: Jesse Wine, Chester Man III, 2014