Tony Hall's Masterclass
‘Making Connections’ is the theme I feel emerged from Tony Hall's ‘Earth Weekend’ masterclass. Earth was one element but also present were fire, wood, water and metal. Participants arrived with a sense of curiosity. We built a fire pit, and stoked it with shavings and wood to create a mountain of ash to use. We trudged in the rain, carrying trowels and buckets, through the fields to dig clay. Tony told us how long it had taken for this clay to form. He fed us with information about minerals, metals, chemical composition and changes during processes, and the ancient history of raku ceramics.
We refined the clay we had dug, made slips, and used clay dug and rested since the previous year. Testing begun, mark making, using the large space of the grain barn and outside to experiment. Substrates of paper, wood, cloth, body, ceramic and floor. Small movements, large movements, flying through the air movements. Aesthetic resonances between circles and pots and buckets and fire pits and vessels and body movements. Space, lots of space – work big, work small. Contained and influenced by the buildings – corrugated iron, corrugated paper. Folding, crushing, dipping, covering, rolling, sliding, burning. Clay suspensions, human suspensions, material removed to be used again, traces – what is left behind, doing the unexpected, rhythms of mark making – speed, lightness, heaviness.
Murmurings, conversations here and there, sharing, connections between people, artistic interests, and new insights into ways forward in personal work. A creative community, a total immersion, time and space to reach new ground. The raku process itself was alchemy. Throughout the weekend we were grounded, flying, conjuring new marks and the whole experience was magic.