Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sculptures in clay

La Consolation des Tempêtes
surrounded by flowers
Anyone who has visited here will have seen the wonderful statue in our front garden. The sculpture is called “La Consolation des Tempêtes” The Comforter of Storms, made by a local artist Monique Dégluaire. The statue has a tumultuous world balanced on her head, which she brings back into equilibrium. You can belief in her or not, but you can't fail to be transfixed by her very tranquil expression and delicate colouring.

Last year I was surprised to receive an invitation to sign up for a course that Monique has started to run - sculpture in clay. It is a three day/weekend session starting usually after lunch on Friday and going through to a Sunday evening. To get you started you begin by shaping a simple form using coils of clay, this gets you used to the modelling medium.

Monique at her outlet in Cormatin
Then you identify the project you are actually going to do. Monique has loads of resources available and you may choose a photo, an existing template or an idea you have had prior to your visit. You sketch out your idea then move on to choosing your clay and preparing it. After making a quick prototype you move on to the real thing. You learn not only how to make the model, but how to scoop out the article to minimise the clay used and minimise the chance of firing problems and how to disassemble your sculpture to optimise firing. There are shared mealtimes, where everyone comes with something they have prepared which gives a break in the day where you can reflect on how your design or work is going. Then as a round up everyone shares what they have learned during their three day experience.

When the sculptures have dried, Monique glazes and fires them for you and you can come and collect them or she can send them on. Her next course is next weekend, from what I have heard there are still a couple of places, which is very unusual, so you could still get in there. Failing that she has new courses in both May and August.

Here's a little video of Monique at work, showing what you could actually try yourself.

It strikes me as a very relaxing and creative way to spend a long weekend. You never know, the next sculpture to appear in our garden may be a Sue Nixon original!

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