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Young Curators half term takeover!

The Young Curators getting stuck in with some ceramic work

Rural Arts saw a buzz of activity over Half Term last week, with our studio taken over by a group of young people working with professional craft artists as part of an exciting new project…


Earlier this spring, Rural Arts received Heritage Lottery funding for a project called ‘Young Curators’, through which 15 young people have the chance to learn more about their heritage and history, interpreting this through the development of their own artwork. April saw the launch of the project with a visit to the Helmsley Archaeology Store guided by curator Susan Harrison, followed by a chance to explore Rievaulx Abbey. We were given a fascinating insight into the history of medieval glass and ceramics. In early May we had a visit from Archaeologist John Buglass at the Courthouse, learning how to record and identify finds from excavations.
Making up designs for clay tile moulds
Half term week brought the chance for the group to work with ceramicist Gordon Broadhurst and glass artist Jane Littlefield. On Wednesday Gordon showed the group how to begin making clay tiles using processes similar to those of medieval times. The young people designed their own tiles inspired by examples they saw at the Helmsley Store and Rievaulx Abbey. The designs they came up with ranged from intricate floral patterns to bold geometric shapes – when made up in contrasting red and white clay they should look fantastic! Later that day, the group started designing and sculpting functional vessels from clay, learning how to ‘coil’ and ‘pinch’. Gordon will return later this month to continue work on the tiles and vessels with the group – so keep your eyes peeled to see the work in progress!
Glass ready to be fired in the kiln

On Thursday and Friday Jane introduced the group to the processes that go into making stained glass. Beginning with some design work, Jane asked them to think about symbols and motifs which are used in medieval stained glass windows – e.g. a lion for courage, an owl for wisdom – and come up with their own ideas which represented them or told a story about them! Each were to create a stained glass panel of their own. Next, the group made up special paint for glass and began painting their designs onto glass. Once they had got the hang of using the paint coloured glass was introduced, which had to be carefully selected and cut to size to fit their designs. The further we got into the process, the more adventurous each young person became, and the painted glass panels looked brilliant – the group tried out such a spectrum of techniques and ideas! The glass pieces were fired over night, leaving our final day for joining the glass pieces together into a panel with lead, soldering and polishing. After just a few days work, the resulting pieces look really professional. We are hoping to include these, and other glass and ceramic work made in further sessions in an exhibition later this year!

The Young Curators with their stained glass panels

Here are some examples of the finished panels: