Talking Funny

I’ve been thinking a lot about words and communication recently. Firstly working with learning disabled students at the excellent Rowan Humberstone arts centre in Cambridge. This was part of Kettles Yard’s Open House programme, this season exploring radio and capturing overlooked voices.

I’d asked the group to take part in some deep listening exercises ahead of the workshop, tuning into the background sounds of their immediate environment. They also thought about words and sounds that made them giggle, did they have a favourite sound or word?

On the day we worked in the ceramic studio and focused on the sounds of the clay, the material and the making. How would we write down these strange sounds the clay emits? There were a lot of challenging spellings and a lot of words started with a K. Kwerp was the sound of a lump of clay being pulled out of the slurry bin.

The ceramic speech bubbles produced decorated the Kettles Yard Christmas tree at St Giles Church. Early January we took them to the river for a spot of tree dressing. This crisp, sunny morning was an opportunity to create a tree journey along the way, identifying, recording and collecting leaves, seeds and twigs on a length of string. The riverside willows and plane trees were dressed and we returned to the ceramics studio to think about how the collected objects could be used to create an impression in clay and record our journey.

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