Portal is an Arts Council funded residency project – Casting multiple individual porcelain ceramic door handles, the work will explore what South Shropshire means to individuals and how it shapes our sense of belonging, identity and relationships to this rural landscape.
The project will collate the stories of the residents both new residents and those who have lived in South Shropshire for generations, exploring the diverse community that lives here. Documenting individual stories through a variety of media, people’s thoughts, inspirations, reflections and aspirations, the project will develop a series of artistic works.
It is aimed that there will be a series of opportunities for engagement as the project develops. Local residents will have the opportunity to choose and cast their own ceramic piece as part of a collaborative installation work, to participate in workshops and artist talks.
Using moving image, sound, text and ceramics the work will explore the individual stories of the community.
We are also in the early stages of development of a collaborative ceramic light installation created from this year long residency in woodland sites across South Shropshire including Mortimer Forest and AONB areas in Shropshire.
We intend to site illuminated porcelain door handles along an easy access trail, creating a sculpture trail which participants from the community can explore, experience and participate in.
The workshops have started and its been really exciting to see the porcelain pieces being created for the installation, many of the people involved in this project haven’t slip cast before. I am really enjoying seeing people create the door handles, we have been able to visit some community groups as well as having public open session workshops @ Loudwater Studio.
I’m finding that the mix of ages in the groups works well too, both for the slip casting but also for the memory telling and story elements of the workshops.
We have created a series of memory suitcases, using objects as a device to open up memory. Boxes full of selected objects as well as retro sweets, ticking clocks, playing jacks and an old record really begin to open up memories within a small group environment.
I have also been interested in using objects in my work as a way of evoking some element of narrative within a ceramic piece. Through the process of the making and the material you can add meaning. I have often worked with clothes and shoes, items that have a resonance of the person who wore them. This work will see a collection of gathered things, memory boxes, porcelain wall of illuminated pieces and a series of film works exploring memory and the stories behind the doors….
This past couple of months I have been busy making moulds, developing the porcelain shapes and firing the first test pieces from the casts for the project.
It’s been an exciting time to see the original casts starting to take shape and the first porcelain pieces coming out of the kiln. There is always a slight nervous energy that comes with developing something new and not knowing exactly if the concept will work! part of the delight and pleasure of working with ceramics is that feeling of the unknown as the kiln is opened, that expectation that anything could happen!
Taking on a community project is no mean feat and there are many elements I am trying to coming to grips with.
Particularly encouraging the community to get involved and through the doors! This project relies on the community to get behind it, and for that it has to resonate with people. Our first workshops start next Thursday, this will be the first casting session….I am a little nervous but also looking forward to seeing the stories that unfold around the workshops. You can book a place to be part of the casting session through Loudwater eventbrite page;
I am also looking to work with local schools and community groups beyond the doors of Loudwater but in partnership with the studio. I think its important that I don’t have the attitude that people will necessarily want to come to us or to an art studio to be involved in the project. So this could mean we develop workshops in the library, on the local market stall and door to door…
I have been busy creating the plaster moulds for the door handles this past few weeks, its slow progress but the first porcelain pieces are now being cast! I have about six weeks left before my first workshops. So have a lot to do! I am also researching new technologies, 3D printing and working with a ceramics factory to produce the larger scale pieces for the site specific work in Mortimer Forest.
The last week of the British Ceramics Biennial was this week so took the opportunity of visiting the festival in Stoke on Trent. I also went to talk about the Portal project and look at possibilities for future collaboration.
The old Spode factory is an amazing space, the Spode site houses a variety of exhibitions and commissioned works, from exhibits of new graduates work called FRESH, and site specific installations such as Keith Harrison Knowledge Is Power 6Towns project and Juree Kim’s exhibition Evanescent Landscape:Terraced Houses.
My children loved the Clay pit where they were able to use clay in its various forms from slip to dried out clay material. They loved the freedom of the space to develop and create site specific works.
The ceramics materials have now arrived. I have spent the past few weeks settling into the studio, some of the first plaster moulds are being cast….progress in making the moulds is going well but slower than I would like. Donations of door knobs to cast are slowly trickling into the studio, special thanks to Julian Taylor for kindly donating some door handles for the project.
I have also been looking to develop more links both with local arts organisations and national networks for the project. I am hoping to visit the British Ceramics Biennial in Stoke on Trent this week to talk about Portal and its development over the coming months. I am also looking to develop an international aspect to this project and looking to work with an international groups of artists, focusing on remote working to develop new links and ideas.
I am still looking for donations of ceramic door knobs and handles, so please if you have an odd, interesting or decorative door knob then please pop it into Loudwater studios. #Ludlowhandles alternatively you can post donations to Loudwater Studios. Details and address can be found at http://loudwaterstudio.org.uk