This new work exploring authorship and ownership makes use of moulds that were created during a series of sessions in 2019 at Changes Health and Wellbeing in Stoke-on-Trent as part of Clay Works, the British Ceramics Biennial’s year-round Health programme.
The project began as an open-ended exploration of clay that would create an opportunity for people to find their own connections between their mental health journey and clay. We started with the idea of space, playing and reflecting on the arrangement in space of objects I had brought in, with participants then making structures using clay in its plastic, liquid and firmer states.
After the first session, participants expressed what they would like to do in future sessions, and the rest of the weeks were planned around this. Many expressed a wish to make multiples of a single object, making their own moulds. Some wanted to make something functional that they could use in their homes, others were more interested in the process of exploring the material. Engaging in a process rather than creating a product was key to our work together. The participants made sprig moulds (small moulds which are normally used to add details to a bigger piece) based on new objects they created, or by making moulds of small objects of significance to them. In my own work I often mix stains into clays to colour the clay body. This was something that appealed to people and was explored towards the end of the project. At first we weighed out the stain very carefully, and then added more by eye, intuitively.
The sessions were documented in a film by Blythe Taylor, also a member of Changes, capturing the process as it evolved.