At the end of April I was asked to run a drop in event for the Spring Celebration happening at Howard Park in Letchworth, an event run by Friends of Howard Park and North Herts District Council. I was there as an artist to help children and adults of all ages to make clay faces out of air drying clay, stuck onto the grand old oak that grows in the park. It was such a lovely day and really wonderful to run a workshop with such natural materials. I went foraging the previous day to look for interesting leaves and twigs and its was the best bit of workshop prep that I have had to do! Birds singing and the sound of the wind, it was pretty blissful.
One the day we kept it really simple. We laid out a tarpaulin with all the materials on and I cut fist sized pieces of clay for each person. They needed to be solidly pushed onto the tree to stick, it helped that the tree was very textured! Little children tended to be helped by their parents and grandparents - the hardest bit was fashioning a nose from the clay, though many children used stones to make the features. Some children started off tentatively, making small features. as they got used to the clay they let their hair down and pushed in all sorts of branches and stones and the clay faces got more and more flamboyant. They were magic, they really were. The whole day was a great success. Spring crowns with willow, wooden boats to sail in the paddling pool and all sorts of other games went on. A lovely local day of coming together.
What was particularly lovely was the adults that took part and got completely absorbed! I think adults don't get the chance to use clay very often and its such an elemental material. It goes back to our earliest beginnings I think, it feels of deep time. The adults that took part got the chance to PLAY, and to see that was completely magical.