Our last Wednesday workshop of the term was inspired by the Swiss born artist Urs Fischer who constructed a massive site-specific collaborative clay sculpture project made by 1,500 volunteers prior to his exhibition opening. The volunteers created a landscape of fragmented figures, ruins, and animals with smudges of human touch.
It was lovely to finish the term with such an exploratory and open-ended session where the children were invited to create their own clay landscape. I am a firm believer in the power of clay. Children are able to work with clay in a way that matches his or her developmental level; a simple piece of soft clay is a perfect match for challenging children’s particular interests at any given time. The sensory experiences children encounter are immense. During this session as the children experienced the texture and feel of the clay, they were able to express what they were sensing with uninhibited enthusiasm; “It’s cold, it’s wet and squishy, and it’s so heavy!” Clay asks to be poked, pinched, twisted and rolled and as they handle it, children develop both fine and major motor skills and realize that they have an effect on the clay as it responds to their manipulation. Children visually inspect the clay’s surface and colour, they smell it and they laugh at the sounds it makes when it’s wet. For many, it is not often we are encouraged to get wet and messy and there is an instinctive and uplifting response to the freedom we feel.