Posts Tagged clay

Clay and Cows!

Interesting project starting at the farm creating 1000 cows for Devon Open Studios in September. It should be quite a sight! Of course any connection to Gormley’s A Field for the British Isles is purely deliberate.

I am looking at a mix of cow folk tales and myths from around the world, along with digging up clay from the fields, observing cows closely and modelling cow forms. The pictures come from a session with Newtown Primary’s Year 1s. Such a good sense of concentration! They were a pleasure to work with.


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tree creatures and the permeability of clay

Withycombe Raleigh Primary came to West Town to explore soils and clay on the farm. We tracked our journey using a satellite image, waded through the stream, crossed muddy fields and ended up at Tree Henge.

There is a really good link to be made with Science and Art! Along the journey we stopped to observe first hand, in the hand and a very muddy hand it was by the end! Particles, organic matter, rock, pebble and permeability all emerged as a working vocabulary. Tea strainers allowed us to test permeability out in the field and answer the question “Why was the water staying in the Tree Henge’s moat?” Then clay became a resource for creation as we mixed different colours, added gathered materials and finally our Tree Creatures guarding the trees. I hope that, by the end, the children had a far deeper understanding of what clay is.
This is part of a developing series of stories about the resources we have on the farm. Wood, Water, Pumpkins, Pigs and more all have their story to tell of change and use through direct experience. Certainly this process is a good learning opportunity for me!

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Cow tales!

We were working on a cow theme at the Clyst Heath Play4Free day. Jo was making potato cows and I was telling cow tales.

It is interesting how stories will expand or contract depending on the audience. Over the 3 hour session I must have told the Punjabi story 50-50  5 or 6 times and each telling changed emphasis and content. It is a good way to get a feel for how a story can work and which are the best ones for a particular time. It is good catching the parents as they listen alongside their children. 50-50 was joined by an Irish Tale of cow rustling by a the one eyed giant Balor, the lying cow of Nigeria and the Cow and the Tiger from India in which the love of the cow for her calf conquers the hunger of the tiger. Sometimes a stories message is clear and other times it lies hidden waiting for discovery. 50-50 certainly generated the most discussion with its theme of  fairness!

Pigs and oats next time in Exwick on the 28th August for the last of the Play4Free events.

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Stories and Clay in the Henge

The Leaf identification and story session went well in a very warm and sunny tree henge. I tried out a couple of new stories which is always good. The Basket Maker’s Donkey has a lot of scope for linking in traditions of willow weaving. We made clay leaves after a walk through the woods and tried out technical words such as palmately and lobed. Using the right word can be so powerful.simple leaves This image comes from the excellent Forestry Commission guide to leaves found here

The Tree Circle is great place to work and my first attempts to make a tipi from a parachute and one pole created a focal point however it is looking rather overgrown and I need to get the scythe out!


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