All Fired Up

This exciting ceramic project was delivered to Abraham Derby Academy in 2017, having been in the pipeline for some years. Funds were secured by the art department but then struggled to fit the project into the busy academic year at the school, as well as Ruth's busy schedule.

'All Fired Up' gave Year 9 BTEC students the opportunity to work with Ruth over a number of workshops exploring the nature of clay from very soft to leather hard; it's mark making qualities ready to design and make their own tiles using the schools houses as the source of inspiration.  Ruth gave an introductory talk on an overview of her work and career followed by an engaging question and answer session, and a  look through her sketch pads and portfolios. 

As part of the students study programme, their homework task involved researching Ruth Gibson Ceramics, her inspiration, methodology etc. The results were fascinating and Ruth assisted in choosing outstanding work for awards and an overall winner. Some of the work Ruth selected can be seen below in the photographs

We were delighted to welcome experienced ceramic artist and art teacher Mike Griffiths to join us in the tile making sessions. Once dried the tiles were bisque fired in the school kiln before Ruth and Mike led a glaze application workshop. Glaze colours were chosen by the students to reflect their House colours,  and were tested first on practice tiles before the final decisions and choice of glazes were made by the students. The fired tiles were gathered and laid out into the tree pattern in the school entrance lobby, photographed in position ready for installation. In January 2018, in some freezing weather, the tiles were glued to the wall by the main entrance to the school by Ruth and Mike and some helpful assistants. A final celebration event took place in May 2018 on the evening of the schools Creativity Showcase, when red ribbons were cut by the artists and students to declare the project completed!

Thanks Ruth for a fantastic experience for both our teachers and our pupils. The tile tree project not only represents our Academy ethos really well - looking terrific now in our reception - but also has given pupils a real insight into the creative and commissioning process - which will equip them in their future creativity, whatever future path they take.

Having undergone the whole process - brief > client liaison > design > redesign > materials tests > make > remake > site selection/measure up > installation > evaluation - takes them through the real life process of working as a designer maker - a totally challenging and engaging path, which is fantastic to have offered them in KS4.

Its been a total pleasure to work with you [and Mike] and we've really appreciated all the extra hours you've put in to make the outcome so polished and complete. You have left us with a lasting legacy that the pupils are rightly proud of, that will grace our wall for many years yet.

Our creativity showcase is on the 17th May, so we look forward to welcoming you back to that event, to officially open the piece.

With warm regards

Anna Mosynska

Head of Art & Design

Abraham Darby Academy

Telford TF7 5HX