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Schoolchildren are fired-up for ceramics

15 October 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

Hands-on clay project aims to inspire young people 

Schoolchildren from across Preston have created an inspiring collection of ceramic art as part of a national scheme to encourage young people to work with clay.

Five schools from the city; Christ the King Catholic Maths & Computing College, Corpus Christi Catholic Sports College, Fulwood Academy, Moor Park Business and Enterprise School, and Witton Park High School, took part in the Crafts Council’s ‘Firing-Up’ scheme which was formally launched in the North West at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) earlier this year.

Under the guidance of ceramics tutors at UCLan, teachers from the schools undertook an intensive six-week training programme before taking their skills back to the classroom. With the help of local artists the schools have produced a collection of ceramic art which was brought together at an exhibition at UCLan’s PR1 Gallery.

Andrew Pearson, Head of Art at Christ the King Catholic Maths & Computing College, worked with year ten pupils on a collaborative three piece work of art.

“Being given the chance to work on a project specifically focused on clay and with a professional artist is a rare opportunity and it’s benefitted all of the children who took part.”

He commented: “I’ve been blown away not only by the quality of the work my students have produced but by how inspired they have been by the scheme. Being given the chance to work on a project specifically focused on clay and with a professional artist is a rare opportunity and it’s benefitted all of the children who took part.”

Corpus Christi Catholic Sports College pupil 15-year-old Ann Ainsworth visited the exhibition to view her work. She said: “I’ve never done anything like this before and I’ve really enjoyed it. Our ceramic sculptures were made for a school prayer garden and I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out.”

Eve Messenger, a 16-year-old pupil from Christ the King Catholic Maths & Computing College, added: “It was exciting waiting for our work to be fired in the kiln. I particularly enjoyed working with Wendy, our professional artist in residence, and gained a real insight into her work.”

“We were really keen to help out and promote this scheme. Making things with your hands is a really important part of any education and can help develop students’ dexterity whether they go on to become a craftsperson or a surgeon.”

Firing-Up is a national programme that aims to introduce thousands of children to the joys of clay and the benefits they can receive from working with their hands. It also raises awareness of the importance of clay in our everyday lives and encourages children to view ceramics as a possible career option.

UCLan’s Dr Alasdair Bremner, Lecturer and Research Assistant from the School of Art, Design and Performance, has co-ordinated the project.

He said: “We were really keen to help out and promote this scheme. Making things with your hands is a really important part of any education and can help develop students’ dexterity whether they go on to become a craftsperson or a surgeon.”