Dirty Hands

Ah yes, dirty hands are happy hands in my book, and nothing is more elemental than working with clay; raw terracotta, deep red, earth-scented clay. Used to line the canal beds and waterways of England, the un-fired chai cups of India, soft and buttery, receptive to palm-prints and marks made by human hands, it is an ancient and evocative medium.
I was very privileged to host a recent mother-baby red tent circle at my home, and we took inspiration from the earth mother aspects of clay to do some meditative free form work. I also read from the story ‘Weft’ by Sylvia V. Linsteadt, who writes beautifully about clay and memory;
“In the clay the grandmothers are talking.

They’re drinking from the vases etched with nets.

They’re eating from the bowls slip-glazed with iron,

The shine of dark.

Quartz flickers through the ground,

Where the clay grows,

Where the grandmothers speak with the silt and the root and the rain.

Nothing, they say, should be held forever.

Everything beautiful should be given away.”


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