When you work with clay, you step out of time.
There is a connection between your hands, heart and mind, when you begin to work the soft, wet material. As you push your thumbs in, and as it squishes between your fingers, the raw earth transforms your attention. You are drawn into it.
Then forms begin to emerge. The process of moulding, caressing and cajoling the clay to follow your mind’s eye takes you out of clock-time and into a longer moment. It is a way of creating space to breathe and reflect but through an active doing. It’s yoga for the mind.
Make a Bell Person workshop
I helped my partner, Erin, with a clay workshop recently that was part of a team-building day for 40 people that work in a domestic violence support service. They have incredibly challenging work and it was an absolute pleasure to share this time with them.
We hadn’t run a workshop for quite so many people before, so were a little nervous about whether it would work at this scale. Erin introduced the workshop and why it is important. It is more than an exercise with play-dough. It is intended to make a space through which each of them can create an expression of self. A celebration of their life-changing work. And that by connecting with raw materials, and re-connecting with their senses, they can create a deeper relationship with themselves and perhaps with others.
Working with clay is a great process for those of us who find it hard to let go. After we had them make something so as to understand the basic techniques, they got to squish their creation back into a ball. (Now that is the most rewarding form of creative destruction!) Perfectionists soon learn that there is no right or wrong. It’s a trek through an uncharted wilderness with no real knowing what we will find at the other end.
Over the next two hours, everyone giggled and cursed their clay creations to life. Their objective was to create Bell People. These are the little folk that Erin creates as part of her practice. They tend to express the inner murmurings of our emotional landscape. And as physical objects, they provide a means of expression that is richer than can ever be expressed in words. It’s an emergent experience both for the creator – and the Bell Person.
And by the workshop’s end a troupe had emerged. A parade of Bell People, each one adding a new and unique chime to the sounds of Footscray…
You can meet the Bell People for yourself in the following very short animation. And a very big Thank You to everyone at Women’s Health West!
If you are interested in finding out more about Erin’s workshops – you can head over to her website erinswindow.com or via instagram @erinswindow.