For the past 20 years I have been very lucky and happy to teach an evening class at Loughborough University supported by the Student Arts Centre.
The class is primarily intended for students of Loughborough University who want to express themselves creatively even though they may not be taking an Arts course as their chosen area of study. Depending on numbers, the course is also open to other members of the University and to the wider community in Loughborough and as such boasts an incredibly wide range of ages, nationalities and backgrounds within the group.
As students are free to produce whatever work they like rather than follow a set curriculum there is an inspiring range of work produced by the group covering all aspects of Ceramics from decorative, functional and Fine Art approaches, depending on what each individual wants from the class.
Some participants have been making Ceramics for years and some have never touched clay before they signed up for the class and it is this mix of abilities and different approaches within the group that makes it so interesting, challenging and rewarding to teach. There is a lovely sense of communication between the different students; the more experienced members of the group are more than happy to pass on ideas and skills to newcomers who in turn bring a freshness, and often new and different ways of working.
The class has also proved to be a useful “stop-gap” for Ceramics graduates on finishing their degree before setting up their own studio and this has had a very positive influence on the group too.
The class is very sociable and there is a sense of community to the group that I feel is very important. I truly believe that this class is very rare; subsidised and affordable with access for a very wide range of the community to express themselves in whatever way that they need to through the medium of clay. I feel privileged to be involved in such a positive venture.