artist in training programme report

The Artist in Training Programme with The British Ceramics Biennial and Arts Connect has been an invaluable experience. Since the start of the programme in February, my skills, knowledge, experience and confidence have improved vastly. I have had the opportunity to work in the BCB studio alongside artist and studio manager Joanne Ayre, I have assisted with, and led workshops within the community, in schools and at local arts events with Educational Manager Katie Leonard, as well as developing projects with BCB Community Programme Manager Dena Bagi.
I graduated from The University of Sunderland in 2012. I studied BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics and graduated with first class honours. I had some time out from working with clay and found it difficult to find time and funds to continue to create. Working with the BCB has allowed me to brush up on my clay skills, learn the workings of a functioning clay studio, whilst working in an incredibly inspiring and supportive environment.
The majority of my AITP has been community based. I worked on the ‘World In One City’ project with the Burslem Jubilee group. The project explores themes surrounding cultural identity, place, heritage and feasting. Bringing together food and clay, the group has reflected on the new community they find themselves within. The Jubilee Group comprises 40-60 adults living in the city who await decisions on their visa or immigration/asylum status. The group have been a pleasure to work with and I have learnt a great deal from assisting and evaluating this project. Evaluating the World In One City project has made me realise the importance of reflecting on work to make projects successful. Writing weekly for the BCB learning blog has given me time out to reflect, think and plan. I have also worked in schools, using clay in an educational environment, promoting pride whilst sharing my skills, creating fun opportunities for creativity and engaging young people in creative decision making. Working in local primary schools has been a fantastic experience with great learning opportunities.  Working alongside Joanne Ayre has been invaluable. Her experience in working as a teacher and artist has taught me a great deal about engaging with young people, and the approaches of delivering workshops which fit into the school’s learning criterias. Connecting creativity and learning is something I believe to be really important. Whilst assisting Joanne Ayre, I have learned the importance of changing approaches in relation to who I am engaging with. This is vital in delivering high quality workshops, which suit the needs of the participants. As well as gaining experience in engaging with people, delivering workshops and learning new skills, I have also learnt how to brand myself as an artist, which has given me opportunities since the AITP. I worked alongside local organisation My Community Matters, delivering workshops in a local community. This was fantastic experience as I developed the project myself, this experience taught me a lot about planning, delivering and engaging. This has developed into more work with the community group. The majority of the participants were children, which fed into my school practice well. I have had a great deal of support with becoming a self-employed artist. This was a very daunting prospect, but with the support of the AITP, I have had time to learn about the ins and outs of self-employment, and I am now confident in continuing with this once the programme finishes. The range of skills I have learned, and the knowledge I have gained whilst working alongside the British Ceramics Biennial has given me the confidence to continue with the work I do. From assisting with workshops, to evaluating projects, all this experience has prepared me to confidently share my creative skills and love for clay.
Since starting the programme, I have been able to become a full-time freelance artist, which has given me the time to develop my work and seek new opportunities. Having time to create my own work has been incredibly important, this is something I rarely had time to do prior to the programme. Since starting the programme I have sold my work to local people and retailers as well as exhibiting my work in galleries. Since the programme started I have also been employed by local schools, community groups and organisations.
The most unexpected thing to come out of the programme is my confidence in my ability to engage well with people. I expected my participatory practice to be something I would do alongside creating my own ceramic work, but I am now confident that the work I do with people will be my key focus. I believe it is extremely important to teach people new social and cultural ideas using creative mediums, and to experience the versatility, beauty and heritage of clay.
I have met many creative people, artists and practitioners through taking part the scheme. This is such an important thing when working as a freelance artist. Having inspiring people to talk ideas through with, to share skills and experiences is vital. The conversations had daily are important in developing my participatory practice. Since the programme started I have been employed by local schools, community groups and organisations. It is amazing how much my employability has rocketed since the AITP. I feel confident in my ability to engage, in my ceramic skills, and my ability to deliver educational and creative workshops.


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