Some time ago, my grandchildren’s art class teacher held an end-of-year session where parents could join in, and I was asked if I wanted to tag along. I accepted gladly –
1. Because I can never resist artsy things, or anything where you get your hands dirty.
2. Because I love taking part in anything the grandkids do.
3. Because their teacher, Maria, happened to go to school with my sons and I thought it would be fun to catch up.
The class is an after-school activity comprising a handful of kids, and I followed them and their mothers (no dads present) into a darkened room where we sat listening to a cd of intriguing sounds. No explanation was given as we silently tried to guess what we were hearing. Water? Yes, definitely water – not waves, maybe rain – but perhaps not rain…perhaps a stream running over pebbles. Definitely something solid there, stones…hail? Then an image popped in my mind, of a video installation by the artist Bill Viola. On a huge, vertical screen, a man lies on a slab of stone under a waterfall. Only the water is not falling on him, but flowing upwards. (You can see it here.)
Back around the large table in the studio, we were each given a big lump of clay. Some kids joined up with their moms, others worked alone, and it was fun to see how everyone interpreted what they’d heard. All the pieces were different. But oh the joy of pounding that cool, humid piece of clay, fingers sliding over or digging in, drawing out or pushing it back. I called my obscure-looking creation Frozen Wave; I imagined it as water flowing upwards, carrying debris with it.
We glazed our pieces in different colors and left them with Maria so she could fire them in her kiln when dry. Before leaving I tried to persuade her to let me join her class on a more permanent basis, but sadly I was considered to be just outside the age limit.
Oh yes, we were told at the end that the sounds were a recording of a glazier or moraine. How cool was that?