- the earth exchange project -
The project was organised by the Clayground Collective as part of a larger event run by Phakama. The main event was all about bringing young people together from a variety of countries to work with the performing arts to express a message, the project was titled, 'Message in a Bottle'. The Earth Exchange Project within this was about educating a small group of the young people in clay skills, which they could then pass onto their colleagues. In effect getting new people passionate about the material and allowing them to express themselves with it.
Through a series of workshops the young people were taught how to shape clay with quick making exercises, including, 'Which animal are you?' a wonderful starter exercise where you shape a ball of clay into an animal that represents you without looking at what you are doing. This really connects people with the clay as they engage with the tactility of the material through touch alone.
After learning these skills the smaller group of young people made clay stamps, which they carved into to produce a relief when stamped into a clay slab. This they then taught to their colleagues so in total they produced around forty stamps. Each stamp had a unique message from each member of the event, expressing what they had gained from the 'Message in a Bottle' Project.
Each stamp was used to produce a series of tiles, these were then cleaned up and left to dry ready for firing.
Next it was time to make the boxes to contain these wonderful tiles. This was a task for the new resident clay experts. Each of them produced their own box, which would be presented to the larger group of participants to be taken back to the individual countries that they all journeyed from.
Now to the key element of the project, the exchange of earth. As part of the event members of each country participating brought some of their native clay to be used in the decoration of the tiles. Each box would contain a set of tiles decorated with slips made from each of these clays.
Everything produced was fired together in an outdoor sculptural kiln. A wonderful structure built specially as part of the project, built in the shape of a bottle to reflect the 'Message in a Bottle' event.
The final boxes were assembled with their set of tiles to be presented to each group from each country in the Earth Exchange Ceremony. Below are some of the fired tiles.
Finally the fired boxes are ready to be sent on their journey around the world to be passed through the generations eventually becoming future archaeology.