© 2019 Kate McMinnies

school ceramic garden

a celebration of the whole community of the school

The ceramic meadow at St Lawrence School in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, was a celebration of the whole community of the school and its connection with the local area.

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I wanted the community of the school to create a calm, peaceful space – different from the vibrant, busy classrooms and corridors of the school.  I wanted to embrace being outside, and give the kids a sense of influence over this environment.

The idea was that everyone within the school and those connected with it, would be involved in making the installation – over 650 people.  Creating a meadow of ‘flowers’ set up connotations of the countryside, wildlife; space. This format also enabled everybody to make part of the installation -decorating their own clay disc (flower).

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To decorate the flowers I worked in the school with small groups of children, teachers and support staff.  Everyone was encouraged to ‘play’ with the clay before decorating their disc.  Many discs showed favourite foods, pets, friends.  Some showed hobbies, some were patterns or experiments. All were different.

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I decided to not use colour on the discs. I wanted all 670 flowers to have a uniform colour, shape and size. The simplicity of form and it’s repetition was harmonious.  It also symbolised the collective community of the school. From afar all the flowers look the same.  On closer inspection the difference of each flower becomes apparent, like the diversity of characters within the school community.

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St Lawrence is a village school with strong connections with the local community.  I collected various seeds, pods, and cones from hedgerows around the village, and these were used to decorate the clay discs.  Logs from a local wood were also made into seats which were placed in the meadow.

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To make the installation as sensory as possible I designed gravel paths through the clay flowers so that people were aware of walking within the space.  Scented plants were placed among the clay flowers, with lots of varied textures, colours as well as smells!  To create a calm peaceful space I designed curved paths and round seating areas that surrounded the children, embracing them with flowers, plants - nature.

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The Ceramic meadow is a calm, peaceful, sensory space.  it is unique, and very personal and meaningful to those who helped create it.

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Working with a group of people of diverse ages to create a collective space was an amazing experience.

Building the garden - a photo diary