Week 8 - WORKING IN THE CERAMICS STUDIO
Friday 6 September, 2019
Our first firing of cast hands were done this week, thank to Jenny, who speedily organised this for us. The ceramics studio, being on the third floor and with kilns inside, is quite warm, so many of the pieces dried quite quickly. I can honestly say, all the various hands together are beautiful and powerful, they come to represent the creative energy of the group together. They give me a feeling of the power of a shared humanity, that is not grounded in the now, but connected to a sense of time beyond our own, they make me feel proud of how far we have come as a group.
For the rest of the time, we focused on building our bowls, which will eventually be personalised by the individual members of the group. We also started casting our hands in Terracotta paper clay. Paper Clay has been a great medium to work with this group, it is resilient and has beautiful earthy warm tones. This week Sofi wasn't there, as she heads back home. Jessica was also on leave, but the group have already had enough of a foundation in the development of the project and were very self sufficient in getting on with the tasks we had set, and indeed looking like they were enjoying the hum of working in the ceramics studio. It's great to see them all enjoying themselves and feeling comfortable in the studio.
Week 9 - CREATING A PLACE FOR THEMSELVES AT THE TABLE
Friday 13 September, 2019
This week we tackled personalising our bowls. At the end of last week, we asked to think about what dishes they love to eat which gives them a sense of home, what they have bought with them with their migration journey. They all came to class with some interesting ideas, and we reflected on how our taste buds and tummies can take us back to a place where we feel comfort and familiarity. I felt hungry the whole session. I chose four soft underglaze colours for them to use, so we had some uniformity in the aesthetic of what we were creating, altogether the bowls look great and also express their individual love for particular types of food. The group seemed to really enjoy expressing their ideas personally and were well engaged in the activity.
I had some great conversations during the process, learning about they diverse kinds of dishes they have a passion for. Some of the Chinese dishes, I had not eaten myself, as you can't get them here in Melbourne. We also had Kati join us, who came in to document our session and also take our group photo. We are already at Week 9, I feel our families have enjoyed their experience and have had an opportunity to relax and enjoy their Friday afternoons. It has been lovely to see them feeling so comfortable in the class, and I hope they feel proud of their contribution so far. We also finally managed to take a group shot with most of the group. Sofi and Chelsea were missing, but we got a shot with all the families and the artistic team.
Week 10 - OUR FINAL WEEK
Friday 20 September, 2019
Our final session was quite casual, some families arrived early as it was the last day of term and the students had finished class earlier. We spend the afternoon finishing off our bowls, making more hands and snacking. It was great to see the group so relaxed, indicating that were feeling comfortable to occupy the studio. We reviewed our progress through the ten weeks and asked the families to consider how their ideas of the area had changed and what they felt they had learnt from the sessions. The question was met with comments about appreciating the time we had made in their lives to spend time with their children and for the kids to spend more time with their parents. They also appreciated meeting each other in this relaxed atmosphere, where they had the opportunity to engage with other similar families also dealing with the experience of adjusting to life in Australia.
After our session we sat down to share a meal together to celebrate the work we had done over the last 10 weeks, over sunset in the Templestowe Room. Each of the families also got up and said a 'Cheers' toast to the group and told us how much they enjoyed being part of the project and how meaningful the experience has been for them. Many of them said they didn't want the sessions to come to an end, which was touching. It also indicated that the project had really been successful in bringing together and creating a feeling of connection and belonging for the families. I felt very emotional to see how we had all bonded as a group. I hope it has given the children confidence in their creative abilities and for their parents to understand how the creative process can help with building their own and their children's confidence. It was a great way to end the 10 weeks we've had together. I hope the experience of developing this art project has been a memorable experience for them all.
Now that the participant sessions have ended, our next steps is to prepare for the exhibition and invite them all back to share with the wider community our collaborative effort in curating our own story. Upon reflection of this process, I am most excited that we have developed a way to work with a particular community to curate their own community voice. This pilot 'social artist in residence' will have an actual long term outcome, leading to the City of Manningham, developing this process as a policy approach which will be resourced. This will impact on the way they work with communities in the future and lead to the inclusion of various targeted community groups in their future curatorial programming.