SAIIER 2016:White Peacock

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Under a magic silver sky
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Contents
White Peacock
Ceramic studio


Introduction

White Peacock ceramic studio offers guided classes as well as ‘open space’ activities for all age groups – from 3 to 120 years. It is a possibility for Aurovilians to explore the unique, responsive material and the altogether magic process of the ceramic media. We exist for inspired amateurs and children; we focus on the process and research.

Activities of the year

This year White Peacock held regular classes, occasional workshops, and a week-long camp, and participated in Auroville festivals and exhibitions in the spirit of unending education and openness for the new creative ideas.

Anna and Saraswati are the teachers (Anna is working with adults while Saraswati is mostly focused on children), with the help of Helena (inspiration on organization) and Fedor (technical support – kilns servicing, exploration of the most effective ways of firing). Santosh is the pottery wheel assistant.

We had two volunteers working with us throughout the school year. With their help we could accommodate up to 25 people at once, and it enabled us to have a pottery wheel corner where everybody could take turns, with the assistance of Santosh, trying their hand with the most popular way of making vessels.

Our regular classes were:

  • Adults: 2 times a week, with 7-10 participants
  • TLC school: 2 times a week, with 5-7 participants
  • Sunday class: up to 25 people

Special events of the past year included:

  • Inauguration of the new White Peacock building, with craft activities (about 150 people)
  • The second International Auroville Potter’s Market, where we conducted a clay corner for everybody (on a non-commercial basis), in which about 90 people participated. Our stall attracted a lot of attention from people who would love to learn ceramics.
  • We held a one-week camp in February during Auroville week) when we spent every morning with clay activities. We had two field trips – one to Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry and one to Sri Ma, at the end of the program. Meeting often and for longer time allowed us to go deeper into the slip-printing technique. The atmosphere was different from the usual class – everybody felt a part of a family.
  • In May 2016 Anna conducted a two-week workshop for two ladies from the Delhi Ashram to help them to start a clay class for children there. As well as the skills they brought home a set of nearly 20 samples.
  • We held a one-week workshop for Tibetan students visiting Auroville (10 people participated).

We also had some other ongoing activities:

  • Supporting the Kindergarten clay class (ongoing). Every Friday the elder group of Kindergarten children (6-7 years old) come to White Peacock for a clay class. The class is facilitated by their own teacher, but our team member (Anna) provides the class with the materials and the fresh idea presented as a sample.
  • Consulting representatives of educational institutions on how to start a clay workshop (by request). Recently we received a call for a meeting from a person who wishes to start a clay club cum education center for the local children in a rural area in the very southern part of Tamil Nadu. We encouraged him to start with the one-week course at White Peacock to get the basic skills and ideas for the beginning of the new venture.

Reflections

  • We explored lots of new techniques and deepened the knowledge of the old methods with our students/club members. We are working towards making a great collection of video presentations from internationally recognized masters to enrich our teaching and learning process.
  • This year brought us a new building (classroom cum firing room), accomplished with the help of many people. This gave us the awareness that the service we provide is needed and appreciated. The construction also taught us how to raise funds.
  • While working on the landscape of our plot, we invited the students to participate in mosaic path creating. This became the most memorable moment of the year. Each student – child or adult – had a chance to animate a piece of the path with the pieces of stone and ceramics. After those patches were fixed with the help of professional mason on the permanent mosaic path.
  • In the Sunday class we moved deeper towards a student-to-student sharing mode alongside the teacher-student communication. That allowed us to slowly transform the ‘class’ model into all-levels interaction and collaboration. We came to the beautiful moment when the elder students with their skills were able to assist the new younger students. This frees a lot of teacher’s time and raises the community spirit, as well as gives the elder students more confidence.

Goals for next year

  1. To explore further the endless possibilities of clay work and to increase the number of classes offered to schoolchildren.
  2. To put up an exhibition at White Peacock in mid-October, showcasing the best works of every child made during last school year and the beginning of the new year. We already have the core part of the collection ready. Most of the students will come up with the solo as well as team projects for the exhibition.
  3. To make a 6-day holiday camp (either in September or during Auroville week) with 10-12 children and adults non-stop exploring the ways of communicating through clay: hand building and wheel throwing as well as surface decoration techniques, field trips and introduction to all methods and experiences available.
  4. To participate in third annual Auroville Potters Market (end of January 2017). Apart from being our main fund raising event, the Festival gives us the amazing feeling of being a part of the professional community, and gives the opportunity to interact with the other masters and to learn from them. Students and teachers of White Peacock bring some life to the event too, offering clay-related activities at the spot.
  5. To involve more people in teaching, including volunteers, interns, and guest artists while they are visiting Auroville.
  6. To implement the Raku firing method into our range of possibilities. We need to set up some new equipment, but the knowledge and interest is already there. In January 2016, Saraswati attended a 5-day workshop with Jane Malvici (UK) in Auroville in order to gain knowledge in Raku firing.


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