Research

From the initial activity it became clear that working with people from other courses introduced a whole new spectrum of viewpoints. It started off tense, but became more relaxed as everyone became comfortable with the situation because at the root of it we all had something in common. We were all creative people -just with different ways of expressing it.

On Wednesday the 11th of march we visited the Whitworth art gallery. It was a busy day with a lot to take in. Every aspect of it was fascinating.

The history of Joseph Whitworth and his role in the industrial revolution, to paintings and sculptures that had only previously been seen in books. For me, I found the greatest connection with the Park. Previously I had lived across the road from Whitworth Park in halls of residence, and I used to go there (mainly in summer) to draw and paint. Being outside with a connecting with nature is a rare thing in Manchester.

From all the sessions we had the most influential was the talk about the shop. This really helped to outline what kind of products they were seeking to stock, and the approach they take to choosing what goes into the shop. Investigating and interrogating the products currently sold there, I engaged most with the family- orientated toys and games. It’s nice and playful to pick up an object and interact with it.

We found out we could use clay from the park for our work so we organised its delivery from the Whitworth. I really want to involve this clay in my work because of its direct connection with Whitworth Park and using natural materials that are locally traceable and have a low environmental impact has become a large part of my practice. However, it still needed testing to find its suitable temperature range for firing in the kiln.

I started my research by picking elements that had stood out and made an impact on visits. I quickly found my research gravitating towards the playful element, with a connection to the park

Among other things I was intrigued by the wooden whistles in the shop. I started investigating how they were made. The process was quite interesting so I began in investigate other simple instruments made from wood – like bamboo flutes and slide whistles.

I investigated further to see if I could find an instrument of a similar type and scale that was made of ceramic. I primarily work in ceramics as it’s where I have the most experience and feel the most comfortable. This led me to the ocarina – a clay instrument that fit right into those criteria. After further investigation discovered that ocarinas made with different clay will have different tones because of the varying resonant frequencies of clay. Thus, by using the clay from the park it would give the ocarina a sound unique to the park. To further this I recalled a process that involves making glazes from scratch out of plant ash. If I used an ash glaze made from plant ash from the park to glaze the work it would create something that was further attuned to the to the park, and give it a unique ‘Whitworth’ flavour.

I pitched Three ideas of making ocarinas in a group tutorial session, and the feedback was extremely positive. It was great having input from people working in other courses and disciplines as it gave me a broader range of perspectives for the feedback, helping to inform decisions in the future.

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