Virginia Woolf understood. I am now in heaven – as my ceramic studio, designed by local architects Edwards Rensen, and constructed at the end of my London garden is now complete. It has taken much longer than anticipated. Seven months instead of the two and half the builder estimated. The pandemic, Brexit and an icy February all took their toll. But I am now in, my creative space is just how I want it, and I can really get to work.
If you want to see me live in the studio, pour yourself an aperitivo, and join me on Tuesday 25th May at 6pm, in conversation with Italian tour guide Roberta Faccio of @artwit_london, for one of her on-line Art Cafe talks. To book a place click here. Tickets are free, with a donation if you wish. We will be talking about my practice and contemporary portraiture in clay. I hope to see you there!
For me, conversations are more vital now than ever. They’re key to nurturing our relationships and the heart of the creative process. But capturing them – the content and spirit – isn’t easy. Audio recording can feel intrusive and piles of scrawled notes are, frankly, no use to anyone. No doubt that’s why organisations around the world are increasingly turning to graphic scribes who sit-in on meetings and translate words into cartoon images or even animations (an approach made famous by RSA Animate). But why not model the conversation in three dimensions – in real time – in clay?
In a word – clay scribing. Ok, two words. That’s the name I have given to a new strand of work I’ve developed over the last few months.
It involves me responding sculpturally in clay to a creative conversation, recording the ideas discussed, live in 3D. Improvising, the work has an immediacy, and roughness which is both playful and relevant. The work draws on the notion of Thinking Hands, first out lined by Juhani Pallasmaa in his book of the same name, and inspired by my teachers and colleagues at Clayground Collective. Exploiting clay’s amazing plasticity, a statement sculptural landscape can be quickly modelled, manifesting the ideas in form, or inscribed with phrases to embed meaning. In October and November I had the opportunity to ‘clay scribe’ on two episodes of the innovative live-streaming business and arts talk show on You Tube, The Green Room with David Pearl, a fast paced, highly creative and thought provoking studio discussion held at Kings Place Theatre in London tackling topics such as How is work going to work? and exploring the nature of Creativity in Captivity.
Full disclosure: I was invited onto the The Green Room by my husband – who thought up and orchestrates the show. Live streaming is nerve-wracking but I was so absorbed in the work that the cameras quickly disappeared. At the end I was struck by how excited the participants were to see the sweep of their conversation translated into form and their throw-away comments captured in a way they really stand out. It sparked a whole new conversation.
Click here to subscribe to the Green Room. Guests over this season’s episodes included Suzy Walker, Editor of Psychologies Magazine, Bruce Daisley, author, podcaster, and Ex European VP of Twitter, Juilian Philips SVP of Workplace solutions company AVI-SPL, Anuradha Chugh, MD of campaigning ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s Europe, and Kenneth Tharp former ballet dancer and Director of the Africa Centre.
Ideas that resonated with me and emerged in the clay: The importance of collaboration and community at work. While for many, working from home will endure post-pandemic, it has become clear how much more laughter and fun occurs when we actually physically come together rather try to connect at a distance. How urban farms could be created in the empty, re-purposed office buildings post-pandemic, reducing food miles and increasing food security.
Photos by Jo Pearl
At the end of the show, participants gathered round to look at the clay landscape of their conversation. It was a great way to round up the event and reflect on the ideas that had emerged. In the long run, apart from the photographs and film that captured the clay capturing, sections of the sculpted work could have been cheese-wired off the whole, and kiln-fired, alchemically setting in stone the 3D sketches. The bulk of the clay was bagged back up, ready to be clay scribed again another time. That’s the beauty of clay – it is totally re-cycleable.
If you are planning a business event, and would like a creative way to record the proceedings, and indeed get participants involved in capturing the ideas in 3D, please do get in touch.