The great clay discovery - St Basils Workshops Autumn 2016
Following two successful visits from young people supported by St Basils in Kidderminster earlier in 2016 the Trust developed a series of workshops aimed at young people who were making the difficult transition into independent living, work and training. The workshops offered participants the opportunity to develop creative skills, to build a connection with the natural world and an understanding of organic farming methods.
The Trust worked closely with Learning, Skills and Work Officer from St Basils Russ Slater and potter Tony Hall to create a series of workshops that would inspire and interest participants whose experiences of formal education were negative. The workshops would expand the knowledge of young people creatively and deepen their understanding of the cycles of nature.
The Trust covered the costs of the visits with funds from Ernest Cook Trust.
The workshops surpassed expectations of staff and participants. Staff was impressed by the enthusiasm and interest of the young people across all activities and the young people were surprised at how much they enjoyed the experiences and in particular meeting new people at the Trust.
Participants dug clay from the woodland and processed it over the two month period of their visits transforming it into a usable material. They made pots, created designs using IT and a projector and decorated ceramic pots.
They explored the Trusts’ woodland tracking animal prints and made plaster casts of their tracks to identify species native to the wood. They set up night cameras to capture our nocturnal residents in moving image – plenty of rabbits and badgers!
On the farm participants helped to care for the horses, fed chickens, played endless games of catch with Effie the collie and came up close to the farms’ herd of pedigree cattle.
Russ helped participants to incorporate their experiences into their Learning Skills modules for which they achieve a formal qualification. This also enabled the young people to reflect on their experiences and prompted aspirational ideas of what they would like to achieve in the future.
Young people enjoyed sitting with staff around the farmhouse kitchen table to talk over lunch and loved meeting residency artist Abigail Conway. The trust they placed in staff during the workshops is testament to the nurturing effect of the safe and peaceful environment of Rodd Farm and of the sensitive and flexible approach taken by the staff.
We look forward to planning more workshops with St Basils and the young people they support in 2017.