A club where teachers get to play

As children, we seem to have little trouble experimenting in the art classroom. We can try our hand at drawing, painting, and sculpture without worrying too much about the result. So, what is it about getting older that makes accessing our creative side that much more difficult?

Recognising our ongoing need for a creative outlet, this year Grimwade House art staff have set up a relaxed, low-stakes space where staff can come together and experiment with ceramics. These after-school sessions, dubbed ‘Clay Club’, are also a chance for staff to build connections with colleagues they might not otherwise spend time with.

A hands-on experience with big results  

“Clay Club is an opportunity to use our hands and feel a sense of achievement,” says Lee-Anne D’Paul, Head of Visual Art at Grimwade House, who runs the sessions alongside Art Teacher Loz Verde. “We guide them through a different project each week. These are the same projects we have worked on with the children. Students are always keen to come in the next day and try to guess who made which finished piece.”

“Children will take much bigger risks, of course,” Lee-Anne adds. “A lot of adults think they’re not creative, and when we first started, staff members had their walls up. They were scared of getting something wrong. But now, that’s starting to break down a bit.”

Making connections, moving past ‘mistakes’

For Bron Oswell, Coordinator of the Strings Program at Grimwade, connecting with creativity was never the issue. “For me, it’s about being in an environment that’s collegial, non-judgemental, and working in a slow, mindful way,” she says. “At the end of the session, coming away with something tangible is also incredibly gratifying. I was so proud of the echidna I made!”

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting a cross-section of staff,” Bron adds. “Almost every part of the School is represented, and I’ve got to know people I would only manage a brief ‘hello’ with when we crossed paths.”

As Clay Club has become more established, Lee-Anne has been impressed with the response. “The appreciation from participants has been really overwhelming,” she says. “It’s seeing people come away from the sessions feeling so satisfied that keeps us going.”

“Children at Grimwade get such incredible opportunities, so it’s great that staff get a chance to experience some of what the children are learning,” Lee-Anne adds. “I see teachers and students comparing notes about their experiences in the ceramics room, and that means they’re making a connection on another level.”