Found: Local Clay Site

Living near a river filled me with hope that I might be able to find suitable clay nearby for casting. I was lucky.

The site is near the river, surrounded by trees. There is a small path where people walk their dogs or cycle. But no-one lingers. The commanding dual carriageway hoisted above the space, slicing though some potentially great parkland, encourages people to keep on their journey. The graffiti, footprints in the river bed and litter signify the variety of ways this space is used.

This place has a name, though most people do not know it. ‘The bit near the river by…’ is probably how its location is understood, Ashton Meadows meaning almost nothing to most people. It is not a destination. It is a thoroughfare, on the edge of the city.

It’s what Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts refer to as an Edgeland.

Places are known, mentally mapped, they have names. Spaces are unknown, unnamed on the exterior of the city as well as peoples consciousness. This location is still a space to me, relatively unknown, only recently named.

Can it become a place; not just for me but for the city? Can it turn a space into a place?

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Ceramics for a Local Culture

I try to buy my food as local as I can. This local movement has been present for several years now and it makes sense. The carbon footprint is reduced, heritage breeds of animals become viable once again (think pigs and cows) and local businesses thrive.

With this notion I started to consider where the clay I use comes from…is it local, is it even British even? Ceramic makers like Issac Button would dig and process their own clay. Clive Bowen is an English maker and still processes his own clay as demonstrated in this video.

In a way of commenting on the local movement I think it is only right to start using my local area to make work. So what was the most simplest way of making a vessel? Clay comes from the ground and when removed or dug out a hole is created, a very simple vessel. I recently cast some holes with plaster in my garden in an attempt to discover how these forms appeared as positives.

 

My well dug soil meant that the positives were littered with undercuts, making casting an impossibility, though their forms were attractive.

The hunt begins to find a suitable, local location.