Archive for April 19, 2011

Coleford Brick and Tile Company

I spent the majority of last week working at the Coleford Brick and Tile Company in the Forest of Dean.
The directors have been very generous, (once again) in allowing me to work on the factory floor and ‘play’ with their wonderful materials and products.
I’m making some large vessels – some one metre in diameter, out of carved ‘green’ bricks. The process involves piling the bricks into a rough shape before carving the surfaces to achieve a smooth effect. Once it’s all dried, it will be disassembled, carefully labelled and then fired in the giant gas kilns at the works.
The piece will then be re-assembled in time for my exhibition in July at Bilston. For other blog entries relating to this project please take a look at: Coleford Residency 5 and 6, Brick Factory Visit 3, Coleford Residency, Bilston Show a Go-Go!,
Jon

St Richard’s and Simon De Montfort Workshops

Gemma completed a series of after-school workshops in Evesham recently, working with parents and children at both St Richard’s and Simon De Montfort schools. Coil-pot figures provided the theme, with everyone creating their own masterpiece – check out these fabulous examples. Once these pieces have been dried, fired and then glazed, they will be returned to their owners.

Oven Celebration

I’ve been working in collaboration with forest school Fiona at Washwood Heath Nursery School to build a pizza oven in the playground.
It took just three days to complete with lots of help from the children and staff at appropriate stages.
The children loved mixing the cob (clay, straw and sand) whilst the staff excelled at decorating the dome. Even when they were unable to help, we had an inquisitive audience sat on the periphery of the build site.
The project culminated on the last day of term and co-incided with the Nursery’s Ofsted celebration event. The children’s families were invited to share in the Nursery’s ‘Outstanding’ report by enjoying music, food and other entertainment – as well as witnessing the inaugural lighting of the pizza oven.
Once the embers were nicely a glow, we were able to cook chapati’s.
Jon Williams

 

The Magic of Madley Primary School

I don’t think, in all my years of working in schools, I have ever come across a setting so up for clear blue creative experimentation. Imagine this, two major creative partnerships projects running alongside each other, one for the children (the village) and the other for the staff (muddy mountains). Throw into the mix no less than seven creative practitioners and you begin to get a feel for the innovative and imaginative approach to learning.
The head is keen that a certain amount of cross fertilisation occurs between the two projects, and with so many stakeholders involved, roles and logistics can sometimes be chaotic and blurred. However, the sheer volume of stuff going on makes for an exhilarating and creative atmosphere.
Initially, my role was to instigate the staff project – encouraging the team to design and build their very own ‘muddy mountain’ from two huge spoil heaps on the school field. The physical outcome could take any form, based on their reaction to the material, tools, techniques and environment.
Despite some early wobbles as we all grappled to get to know each other and the open-ended approach to problem solving, a wonderful maze and pod design was taken forward and executed with enthusiasm. It always amazes me how given time a group of individuals can pool their skills and resources to produce a brilliant outcome.

We now have three steel frames on order for the domes and the maze is definitely taking shape. On Thursday the children were invited to start their ‘muddy mountain’ in response to what the staff had produced so far. The children had great fun making a lovely mud chair in the woods, eventually to be housed in one of the pods.
Jon Williams
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