SAIIER 2019:White Peacock ceramic studio
White Peacock ceramic studio
White Peacock is an ongoing project since 2008. It is a place where everybody can explore one’s creativity with clay – a most obedient and yet demanding material. We conduct classes, workshops, participate at the larger events and exhibitions. With the students we undertake community projects. People from 3 to 100 years come to learn claywork with us.
Two ceramic artists, Anna and Saraswati initiated this venture, later Fedor joined them as a technical part of the team. Our technological cycle is fully professional (suitable mostly for decorative ceramics). We have two electric kilns to maintain two firings for the pieces – buisk and glaze firing.
Out of many other creative mediums ceramics is the least likely to be tried at home on one’s own as it requires a heavy equipment and basic technological knowledge. However in a digital era ceramics becomes more valuable and gains popularity as a digital detox option for kids and adults. First, it reconnects with the Earth energy; second, it requires full concentration and presence in the moment with all your senses, restoring the brain-hands coordination. It also exists in a real time, one step at a time – you can’t skip a step or speed up the process. And it holds one's attention because it’s an interesting process.
Description of project:
We offered regular classes in our White Peacock studio for different age groups (preschoolers, school children, adults). We also facilitated classes within school/kindergarten curricula, and held events, workshops, and exhibitions of students’ works.
We mainly focused on the amateurs’ development and children's after-school activities, as we believe this is the most needed for the Auroville community trying to follow a concept of unending education and eternal youth.
1. We invited 6-year old students from Kindergarten and Nandanam Kindergarten for weekly classes within their own curricula. We are very well situated (next to their schools) to be a part of their schedule. In future we will try to tune better with the projects they already do as a group, to became more integral part of their life. Otherwise it was an interesting experience, something to learn (for example, how to introduce different ceramics techniques in a most entertaining way). We are planning to continue learning together with our closest neighbors.
2. We held a Ceramic Camp for the elder school-age students of our Sunday Class. During the winter holidays we spent every morning together and focused on a new project each day. The intense rhythm and deeper focus allowed us to achieve the concentration we hardly ever have during a weekend class. A feeling of growth and empowerment was there.
3. We started a fundraising campaign for a new kiln (our main hardworking kiln has served us for 11 years now, survived many small and major repairs and needs to be replaced soon). Having this as an aim, we participated in Auroville Potters' Market with the pieces made by children between 7 and 15 years old. We gathered some funds (Rs. 42,000 Rs, which is 30% of the new kiln estimate), but also noticed that people appreciate our pieces for the innocence and positive energy they carry.
4. We decided to undertake a community mural project: a tiled shield around a drinking water tub at Certitude. The tiles are ready, and the mounting of the mural will be done during or after the summer holidays.
5. We separated two streams of the Sunday Class into two different classes. Now we have a Sunday Class fully dedicated to school-age children and a Saturday Open Space Gathering for preschoolers and their active parents. This proved to be a good idea as both groups feel more relaxed and focused. Before we had very crowded Sunday mornings (up to 40 people at once), and the amount of interested people was only growing. (Probably, this shows that there are not many places in Auroville where children can play and grow in a free time!)
One of our team members, Saraswati, was selected for participation in the first edition of the Indian Ceramic Triennale. Her project was called ‘AntiGravity’, made of porcelain. It took a good three months to make it and gathered a lot of positive attention.
Another facilitator, Anna, participated with her own creations (about 50 pieces made of porcelain) in the “Divine Flowers” exhibition in Savitri Bhavan.
As a team we believe that it’s very important for the teaching artists to continue to grow and to deepen the skills and the understanding of the material, as well as the contemporary development of art medium. If your potential grows, you always have something to share with the others.
We had a very intense year. The number of our students grew as well as the number of classes. The popularity of clay-related activities is growing and we have to look for the options to catch up with the demand. Most certainly, we need to involve more volunteer-facilitators in our team. Fortunately, the visa restrictions got softened and we will be able to involve guests and short term volunteers in our activities again.
As teachers/facilitators we would like to improve our own capacities by taking part in a few learning opportunities such as workshops on different ceramic techniques offered in India by Indian and invited artists. In our experience, our own growth boosts the motivation and growth of our students.