Interactive Clay Pit Workshop Organised at Aalto ARTS

Posted on February 2018

On Tuesday February 13th 2018 the interactive Clay Pit workshop was organised for the first time at Aalto University. Empirica member Priska Falin has been developing the workshop together with community and engagement programme manager Dena Bagi from British Ceramics Biennial (BCB).

Dena Bagi (third from the right) and Priska Falin (third from the left) discussing the workshop experience with the participants. (c) Minerva Juolahti

Creating a Place for Play and Learning with Clay

The objective of the Clay Pit workshop concept is to create a place for play and learning with ceramics: The participants explore with the material in its various stages of transition using oversized tools and different spaces and surfaces. The workshop at Aalto was held at the sculpture workshop on the snowy Otaniemi campus for a group of 15  participants who were from the course Silicate – Form, glaze and surface structure from the Design department of University of Art and Design Offenbach, Germany. The participants enjoyed the possibility to throw themselves into a process of experimentation with the material without having to think about the outcome or results.

New Master’s Programme in Contemporary Design at Aalto 

The visit of the course from University of Art and Design Offenbach was hosted by a new Aalto ARTS design master programme called Contemporary Design. The new programme combines the experimental processes of analog and digital design and its first students will start in autumn 2018.

Workshop participants experimenting with the material. (c) Minerva Juolahti

The idea of the three-day-visit of the group from Offenbach was to exchange ideas on the experimental ways of teaching design. Empirica leader professor Maarit Mäkelä and lecturer Anna van der Lei presented their work and the new design master’s programme for the guests. Professor Markus Holzbach from University of Art and Design Offenbach gave a presentation about his work in teaching visualization and material research at the university. The Clay Pit workshop offered a wonderful opportunity for the guests to work with an experimental ceramics process.

Discussion after the workshop. (c) Minerva Juolahti

Clay Pit Workshop as a Research Project

The Clay Pit was first launched during the BCB festival 2017 in Stoke-on-Trent where it hosted over 4000 participants. One aim of the Clay Pit workshop is to look at the material’s qualities and how they are used as well the experiences of the participants on how they connect with the material. Data has been collected from the workshop experiences and the Clay Pit concept has been developed further. A paper that discusses the workshop will be presented at the Restating Clay conference in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) at York Art Gallery (UK) in March 2018. The Clay Pit workshop has been shortlisted for Best Family Event award of the Arts Council of England.

Some experiments with the material.  (c) Minerva Juolahti

The Clay Pit workshop has been developed as a part of the European Ceramics and its Dimensions project, that is partly funded by the Creative Europe programme of EU. The Department of Design of Aalto ARTS is one of the partners of the project.

For more information: 
The Clay Pit workshop at the BCB festival 2017
Pictures of the Clay Pit workshop at the BCB festival 2017
Information about the Ceramics and its Dimensions project
Aalto ARTS Master’s Programme in Contemporary Design