New CSAD Graduate Incubation Unit member ceramic artist Elin Hughes took part in the Ryall Hill Residency over the summer. Here she tells us about her experience:-
‘Situated about half an hour’s drive from Worcester, the quiet village of Ryall sits on the clay rich banks of the River Severn. It’s home to the Ryall Hill Residencies, an initiative now in its fourth year, set up by Cardiff School of Art and Design Ceramics alumni Dr Robert Stockley. The residency aims to give groups of up to three Ceramics graduates the opportunity to make new work in a beautiful setting over the summer months. Finding two people to go along with me had been a surprisingly tricky process because of post degree plans and job commitments but I couldn’t have found two more lovely people, or two better vegan cooks! Dan, Xina and I arrived the weekend of Upton Blues Festival in mid-July.
‘Behind his home, Robert has converted the stables into a three part studio with a glaze room at one end and throwing space at the other. Over the course of our three week stay I took part in a variety of activities from processing the river clay to a workable consistency, to firing the gas kiln. I made lots of new work, experimenting with techniques and shapes I hadn’t tried before, working with mystery clays found around the stables to make my deconstructed vessels as well as trying out the river clay to make a series of functional tableware. The kiln gods weren’t always on our side but we learnt valuable lessons about firing and the variables involved.
‘As well as spending our days in the studio, Robert was generous enough to show us some of the local area. We walked up the smaller of the Malvern Hills, visited Croome Court where Grayson Perry’s tapestries were on show, and had a pint or two of Butcombe at the Three Kings, Hanley Castle. Being unique in the sense it is really just as much of a retreat as a residency, an antidote to the post-graduation blues, Ryall offered me valuable time to continue to develop my practice without the time constraints and stresses of the degree.
‘I’m enormously grateful to Robert and his wife Jane for welcoming us to their home. Going to spend three weeks living and working in the middle of nowhere with two strangers was a little daunting but who knows what creative collaborations may happen in the future from us meeting! The summer after graduation is a tricky and frightening time for many so it’s wonderful that opportunities like this exist with a focus as much on having fun and improving wellbeing as much as making art.’