Brighton Faculty of Arts sculptor and ceramicist Alma Boyes has headed up a campaign entitled ‘Firing Up’, to relight school kilns and introduce children to clay and ceramics.
The faculty has led the Crafts Council countrywide initiative in South East England which has provided an ambassador, a technical demonstrator and five students who have been working with professional ceramists, teachers and children in five secondary schools in the Sussex area to teach children in Years 9 and above. In preparation for the project, the secondary school teachers learnt about ceramics at faculty workshops held at the faculty during autumn 2012.
Boyes says that by providing school children with access to the specialist facilities and hands-on tuition the faculty has built partnerships that are both educational and rewarding. She said: “Ceramics is a subject that is rarely taught in secondary schools despite huge benefits that children receive from learning with their hands. ‘Firing Up’ has raised awareness of the importance of clay in our everyday lives, supported schools to use clay creatively and confidently, and encouraged children to view ceramics as a viable career option.
"This project offered a fantastic opportunity for teachers and pupils to engage with ceramics as a means of expression and to experience ceramics professionally. It will also enabled students on the faculty’s 3D Design & Craft courses an opportunity to work with established artists within an educational context and to share their experience of pursuing ceramics professionally through higher education. We are proud to have taken an active role in facilitating the success of this initiative.”
Funding for ‘Firing Up’ was provided by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation which aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities in the UK, and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation whose mission is to maximise opportunities for individuals and communities to realise their potential and to experience a better quality of life.
An exhibition of work produced by the pupils from Varndean School, Hove Park School, Longhill School, Portslade Aldridge Community Academy and Holy Trinity School, Crawley is on show in the Cafe Foyer Gallery at The University of Brighton Faculty of Arts at Grand Parade until 26 July, 2013.
'Firing Up' is a national programme of networked learning in ceramics and has been developed by the Crafts Council, supported by the Arts Council of England. For more information visit: www.craftscouncil.org.uk/learn/firing-up.