Kettle’s Yard Open House Project

Before COVID-19, lockdown, loo roll shortages and rainbows in our windows we were involved in a fantastic project with Kettle’s Yard Open House. Artist collective Wright & Vandame worked with North Cambridge communities from April 2019 to March 2020 to explore and share ways we can all take care of our physical, mental and social well-being in our contemporary lives. Over two weeks in February they hosted Meeting Ground and transformed Nuns Way Pavilion, a sports pavilion in Kings Hedges, into an inspiring space for visitors to try something new. 

At Rowan we love the chance to get involved with different groups and organisations. It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to be part community projects and give the students a chance to see their work on public display.

Taking inspiration from the collection in Kettle’s Yard, the ceramic and mixed media workshops collaborated on an artwork based on pebbles. Hollow pebbles were created from clay and then finished in different ways for example some of the pebbles were scored to create a rough surface whilst others were kept smooth.

It was then time for the firing…(stinking out Rowan while they were at it!)

After firing, these pebbles were wrapped in layers of wool fibres and wet felted in the mixed media studio.

Some of the pebbles were carefully smoothed with rubber kidneys and coated with layers of terra sigillata, a refined clay slip, to create a polished surface.

These pebbles were then placed in a metal incinerator between layers of sawdust and smoke fired.

The finished pebbles were attached to cotton cord and displayed across a window, creating an impressive display. Viewers were encouraged to interact with the piece, the movement of the strands evoked sounds reminiscent of the tide washing over a pebbled beach.

Our lead ceramicist Sarah and mixed media tutor Lima, who both led the project, were so pleased with how many students were able to get involved and how much they enjoyed it: ‘The repetition of the making process was therapeutic and required a lot of focus. Once the students were familiar with the process, they found it meditative and relaxing. It was great to have a project that all of the participants were able to get involved in and shared a positive experience.’

Sarah cont: ‘This project allowed the students to explore different creative practices and collaborate with their peers to create the artwork. The final piece was displayed in Nuns Way Pavilion as part of the event and was very well received. The students enjoyed seeing their work on display and were pleased that everyone liked it.’

A huge well done to the student artists, staff and volunteers involved in such a wonderful project. Thank you as well to Kettle’s Yard Open House for asking us to be involved and we look forward to joining you for more projects in the future.