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artist and co director at eastnor pottery and the flying potter jon williams

artist and co director at eastnor pottery and the flying potter jon williamsJob Title: Co-Director

Job description: Facilitating experiences (Eastnor Studio and the wider community) and maker of weird interactive pottery stuff.

Q1 What do you like doing when you are not working at the Pottery?

Surfing! but as you need the ocean for this I’ll settle for spin class, writing and mowing the lawn.

Q2 What is your favourite song of all time and why?

A Forest by The Cure. An incredible sonic journey with endless live versions…also, nothing was ever quite the same after hearing it for the first time.

Q3 What is your favourite drink?

A bottle of Tribute

Q4 What is your favourite cheese?

Stilton

Q5 How many pairs of shoes do you own?

6, but rarely stray from my Air Force 1’s handed up from my son!

Q6 If you were an animal what would it be?

A barn owl

 

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potter

textured terracotta tiles made by young children at washwood heath nursery school and jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterThese amazing terracotta tiles have been made by the talented children at Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham. Although they look rather stunning arranged here on the ground, the tiles form part of a much more ambitious project at the nursery.

Jon the potter worked with artist in residence Claire Witcombe, Nursery staff and of course the children to plan an exciting and inspiring project to introduce aspects of pattern making, surface design and construction. The aim, to create something that would pool the skills and experience of all the collaborators and result in an outcome everybody could enjoy and share – as well as provide the children with an exceptional learning journey along the way.

After much consultation and planning, a shelter proved to be a popular choice with all stakeholders – a structure the children could pass through, play in and around. It was decided the interior space would be protected by hand made roof tiles, co-created by the children in a series of practical workshop sessions.

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterautumn oak trees in eastnor herefordshire

Natural resources, hand tools and other mark making objects were introduced to the clay table for the children to press and work into the clay. Once they had flattened large lumps of terracotta clay into flat slabs, the children got to work, pressing and rolling the tools and resources into the soft material. They were also encouraged to cut their textured slabs into uniformed shapes by slicing around a template especially prepared for the task. The range of patterns produced, and the degree of exploration was a delight to behold….And as for the sheer number of tiles made – WOW! Proper tile making factory.

pressing oak leaves into clay slab with jon the potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamcutting clay tiles at washwood heath nursery school with jon williams from eastnor pottery

table full of mark making materials and clay at a creative session led by Jon Williams the flying potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamThe 100 tiles have all been fired and ready for dispatch! The baton now passes to Claire who will enable the children to build the main structure from recycled pallets and boards. The roof tiles will be added later by the children using hammers and nails to hang them on the timber – a traditional and contemporary technique used by roofers in the construction industry all around the world.

The project is a fine example of partnership working and creative collaboration and we all cant wait to see the final piece installed in one of the Nursery’s exterior spaces.

Great to be back at Ledbury Primary School Nursery working with the youngest and most creative pottery participants.

Every year we take bags of squishy clay, tools and a potter’s wheel into LPS Nursery to explore language and communication whilst working with clay. Parents too are invited into school to work alongside their children.

Squashed Owl made of Clay at Ledbury Primary School with Eastnor PotteryHere’s what one parent (Joe’s mum!) had to say about the projec: (text taken from a pamphlet produced by the school)

“It gave me a real insight into understanding how the Early Years works. As parents we had the oportunity to communicate with our children in an inspiring setting with a good role model, Jon the Potter. The project just enchanced the wonderful work Rose already does in Nursery. I was also amazed at how much knowledge Joe had about pottery. As parents we don’t realise how much they are learning. It also gave parents who wern’t so confident in coming into school the opportunity to build relationships with staff in the Nursery. It was great when Joe brought his pot home and was really proud of his work.”

The project has been so succesful at LPS that it’s been rolled out into other settings. During the Summer term we worked with the Nursery class at Cradley Primary School and this Autumn we have just completed a six week block at Ledbury Play Station.

 

Fantastic Tile Panels made with Eastnor Pottery & Brearley Nursery School Pizza oven re-build project with Brearley Nusery School and Eastnor Pottery

One of the Early Years settings I visit on a regular basis is Brearley & Teviot Nursery and Children’s Centre in Birmingham.

At the beginning of each academic year and before the children start, I’m called upon to deliver a series of training and teambuilding sessions for staff. In 2014 we produced this amazing rainbow tile panel designed and executed by the team and each tile representing a member of staff.

More recently, I worked with the children to re-build this magnificent bread oven after it had taken a bit of a bashing over the Summer break. Each day, groups of pupils from all four classes visited me on site to help with the construction. A very messy and invaluable experience with lots of lovely language and communication emerging.

Here’s a selection of comments from the children:

“We’re building a mountain”

“I’m mixing”

“Scary snake”

“I cant roll it it’s too sticky”

“My hands are stuck”

“This clay is soft”

I’ve made a big rock”

“I have play dough in my home – I make waffles”