Saturday, 25 February 2017

mud to mud (Unearthing project / Walton-on-the-Naze)

I’ve started collecting London clay for Unearthing, a collaborative project with The People’s Bureau at Tate Modern and Stave Hill Ecological Park – see also previous posts.

A few months back we collected clay from the river bed near London Bridge. On this occaskion I collected some in a purer form on the beach at Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. The Naze is a gorgeous and very unstable landscape, eroded by tidal waters which expose red crag and London clay, that is then reclaimed by the sea.

While collecting small lumps of clay strewn around the beach we came across bricks, yellow in colour, looking like traditional London brick. We also came across wall made from misshapen bricks, most probably rejects from a local brickery. The bricks were being washed out to sea, a 50+ million year old cycle was being looped - clay, shaped into bricks, fired, then becoming clay again... Ecology in action!

I walked back to the studio to process the clay and felt like a complete vandal when I started grating it in order to dry it. We soaked it, sieved it and dried it again, this time on a plaster bat to make plastic clay. 

Once the clay has been modelled, fired and pieces installed, I’ll simply have to walk back to the beach and throw the work in the water... I'm not one to get in the way of nature doing it's thing!

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