CLOVER by Jaine Irish (written during the class in Sandwich)
Clover was asked to design a group of interesting shapes in clay. A group of shapes that would fit one into the other. A bit like life really, one part fitting snugly into another – nothing like her life she thought. Clover loved her ceramics night-classes. She loved the challenges and the people who went there. Every week her tutor found a new way of helping them to express themselves by sharing their feelings, joys and concerns through clay. Somehow, with the soft, grey clay, it was easy to express herself. Easier than talking about it.
Clover took her mound of solid, shapeless matter and began by slicing chunks off it. She looked around the room. Everyone was busy concentrating intensely on the task, too busy for words.
She rolled the soft clay into one centimetre thick ropes and started to coil them around, one at a time, creating the five, little figures that had formed in her mind. She had seen the Russian Doll sets before – but she didn’t like the strong, bold colours. It was the idea they wanted her to use and to make it her own. Clover chose her message carefully. She felt strongly about the pollution in the Tundra and she had been on a rally fighting the mass slaughter of seal pups. Her five pieces were to portray this in her own special way and style.
First, the small figure of a man, about fifteen centimetres high, dressed in the clothes of the Inuit people. Their life was the ice and the snow and their use of the seal and other animals was essential for their very survival. Next, she would create the seal figure itself, his bright, black eyes gleaming in the white coat – his tiny paws held under his chin, entreating peace. On the back of his silky coat, she would delicately paint the hunter-figure in blood-red, holding a hatchet – her message was clear.
The whole process would take a number of days to complete, as each stage needed both drying and firing time. Finally, the application of her chosen slips and then a clear glaze. There was no guarantee as to how they would turn out. That was the real thrill for her, the creation of the unknown in the knowledge that she would achieve something unique and magical.