Clay as a metaphor for exploring permanence?

As I am working towards my Research Methodologies essay I have been talking to my wife, who recently completed an Artists Teachers Scheme Year in Birmingham. She had come across Clayground Collective and subsequent discussions and then recent visits to their web-site have really interested and inspired me. There are connections with the way that our Learning for Sustainability team worked over the years at Worcestershire County Council, linking sustainability themes such as biodiversity with the arts (see: Worcestershire Parish Mapping Project).

I am becoming fascinated by the idea of using clay as a metaphor to explore sustainability stories or visions. Unfired it is impermanent, which means you can make things that are transitory, changeable, or easy to demolish or that can be left to erode (e.g. when left in the elements – see Adam Buick’s Earth to Earth piece). However, if you want to explore something you wish to see as permanent – that will last thousand years, then you could represent this by firing it, making it ceramic…..

I want to explore this idea with children and young people…. What things do we see around us – that we want to change…. Let’s build those things. Which need to be permanent and which need to be able to metamorphose…? Maybe they all do? And then in the natural world around us… which things do we want to see as permanent – or can we see as permanent? Is anything permanent? Are there creatures or habitats, lifeforms…. that we could make in clay – or maybe fire into some kind of future that we can pass on?

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