clay castle made from individual bricks made at the cheltenham science festival by lots of families and school children

families making clay bricks in the makershack at cheltenham science festival 2019

It was fab to be back at the Cheltenham Science Festival last month.

We’ve been involved in the Makershack since its inauguration in 2017. This year we encouraged visitors to make a press molded brick, using real brick clay from Coleford Brick and Tile Company based in the Forest of Dean.

The bricks were assembled into a giant castle and we worked with nearly 10,000 people over the x6 days of the festival! – that’s a shed load of bricks! The sheer volume of visitors meant we had to build a fresh structure each day, deconstructing the building at the close and re-claiming the material for the next morning.

Athough the Makershack was primarily aimed at Primary school aged students – (and man, there must have been very few Gloucestershire schools who didn’t visit the show), on Friday night grown-ups got to play with the technology in a special after-hours session between 8pm and 10pm.

Although it’s full-on, we love the #makershack and look forward to sharing the scientific benefits of engaging with clay, with festival visitors in 2020.clay castle made from individual bricks made at the cheltenham science festival by lots of families and school children

school children enjoying hands on making clay bricks at cheltenham science festival 2019

Pottery team building event at Eastnor Pottery Herefordshire

Staff from the School of Biological Sciences, Bristol University descended on the Pottery in August, (all 18 of them) for a spot of pottery team building.

Participants built a collaborative jug, took turns on eight potter’s wheels and made some intricate pottery models before enjoying a buffet lunch in The Potting Tent Marquee.

If you would like to reward your staff or our planning a unique works away day for your colleagues, please take a look at our page dedicated to team-building.

If I was to name a community arts practitioner who I greatly admire for her work with young people, it has to be artist drama practitioner Toni Cook. Time and time again I’ve witnessed Toni work her magic with groups, using a mix of performance, wit and humility to build massive levels of confidence in the young people.

I’ve been fortunate to have collaborated with Toni on several projects so you can imagine my delight on being invited to work with her again on a project initiated by Hereford Library service and SHYYP – a charity working with young homeless people or those at risk of being made homeless.

Although I only worked two sessions with a small group of young people in Ross on Wye Library, I was so impressed by the group’s creativity and confidence, I found myself, a few weeks later, in the Courtyard Theatre watching a performance by the same young people called ‘If you walked a mile in my shoes’

The moving performance told the individual stories of 14 young people, who shared their own true-life experiences through prose, poetry, songs, rap and film, describing their emotions, questions of identity, making their voice heard and fight for survival.

It was brilliant! A testament, not only to the participant’s bravery but to the skillful facilitation of Toni and the other artists, organisations and youth workers involved. Well done everybody!

tile panel in the shape of a book made by young people from SHYYP at Ross on Wye Library

 

Staff from Dean Close School Cheltenham learn pottery skills at Eastnor PotteryThese three teachers from Dean Close Co-Educational Independent School in Cheltenham came and spent a day with us in November learning about clay and making techniques.

This is what they had to say about their experience:

“We all learnt so much and helped us to reinforce the basics whilst giving us the confidence to pass our knowledge onto the children we teach.

A highlight had to be throwing a pot! We all loved it and can’t wait to get practicing.

Sarah and Jon were so friendly and welcoming and their experience and knowledge was excellent. Thank you both so much.”