Londoners invited to create giant clay sculpture

Posted: Thursday 23rd July 2015

A massive five tons of clay will be arriving in Granary Square, King’s Cross, on 15th and 16th August, with members of the public being invited to help create a giant sculpture, as part of a tribute to the changing capital and the unsung people who have built it.

The event, Clay Cargo, run by arts organisation Clayground Collective, aims to create a monument with the public working alongside ceramic experts and architects on the banks of the Regent’s Canal, itself built by hand, over 200 years ago. It celebrates the historic connections between ceramics, the waterways and cities, and allows visitors to discover or reignite the skills needed to make things by hand, something that is too often lost in a technology dominated twenty-first century.

People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to take part, with students from Central Saint Martins – University of the Arts London, on hand to offer advice. There will be demonstrations by potters, as well as exhibits created with clays dug from around the world and relayed to London by volunteers over the last seven years. Original music composed by rising experimental folk composers, Dead Rat Orchestra, will be played by a 30 piece steel orchestra, The Melodians. The event sees completion of a three year project, Clay Cargo, culminating at the British Ceramic Biennial in the former Spode Factory in Stoke-on-Trent this September, where a final project exhibition inspired by clay and canal connections, will be displayed.

Over the past three years Clay Cargo has encompassed a range of sessions involving everyone from the general public, to ceramics experts, to specialist community groups, surgeons and teachers. It takes inspiration from Josiah Wedgwood, ceramic industrialist, worldwide exporter, and pioneer investor in the canal system.

Speaking about the collaboration Julia Rowntree and Duncan Hooson, Clayground Collective co-directors, said:

“We continue to be inspired by clay in all its variety. This ancient, abundant and universal material, common to cultures the world over and a key ingredient at technology’s leading edge, is irresistible to the touch. We relish the prospect of shaping a collective sculpture with the public over two days and launching the new Clay Cargo music played by the Melodians. Clay and steel, sounds and making – what could be better for a summer weekend in the centre of the city at King’s Cross?”

Tim Eastop, Arts on the Waterways producer, for the Canal & River Trust, added:

“The banks of the Regent’s Canal by Central Saint Martins couldn’t be a better place for people to come and take part in this amazing project. The event will celebrate the hands of those who built London, those who built the canals and the connection between the ceramics industry and the nation’s waterways, which goes back more than 200 years. We want many more people and talented artists engaged in great arts on our waterways, and what more enjoyable way than doing this than getting stuck in to five tons of clay.”

Iain Cartwright, Executive Director, British Ceramics Biennial, said:

“The Clay Foundation (British Ceramics Biennial) and Clayground Collective have a long and productive relationship based on mutual objectives – celebrating the material, encouraging re-engagement with clay and the value of hand skills. This ambitious and ongoing project will culminate in a display at BCB 2015 (26 September – 8 November) and forms part of our organisation’s campaign to ‘ Get Clay under your Fingernails”.

All activities are free and run from 12noon-4pm on both days, more information available here.

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