Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Village Industry

In the same way that the city of Dhaka seems to be divided up into different districts according to a crafts activity or a material emphasis, so villages and rural areas seem to have the same identifying characteristics.
We travelled on from the brickfields and the rice mills to a village that had a specialism for clay work.
Piles of clay sit along the riverbank, dug and ready to be processed into pots and tiles. The hay is used for constructing and firing the kilns.
The village community covered all manner of work with clay, from the use of hand-modelling and simple press-moulds to produce sculptural pieces for temples and gardens;
small batch production of relief panels using plaster molds,
and large scale hand production of flowerpots and tiles.
The area was particularly known for its flower pots which were sold in Dhaka and further afield, recognizable by their rippled rims.

We saw evidence of the whole production process; from small clay digging concerns.
Mixing the clay.
Making simple relief molds, (mixing the clay with organic material for mold making to make the clay more refractory).
Making the slabs for the walls of the flower pots (aswell as the roof tiles).
Click here to watch: Making Clay Slabs.
Making flower pots using simple molds.
(Sand is used as a releasing agent).
(The slabs are placed into the mold then the seams smoothed over using beautiful kidney-shaped ceramic 'stones'.)
Fitting the rims using a hand wheel/ turntable.
More drying, under large structures, in the kiln area or any free space.
Stacking the kiln.
Covering the kiln with hay and a hay/clay mix to seal in the heat,
and firing.
The kilns are fired close to where people live, under simply-built tin and bamboo structures.
Beautiful constructed bamboo walls surround the kilns and clay working areas.