Fiona combines her flair as a teacher with her creativity. In 2010-11, she was Artist-in-Residence for York University Nursery, running a six-week project in their forest as part of York City Council’s Involve Programme. She used clay with storymaking activities, around the theme of ‘treasure’. You can find out more about this project from: http://www.yor-ok.org.uk/Workforce/Working%20with%20Children,%20Young%20People%20and%20Families/Involve%20Programme/forest-and-clay-stories.htmFiona worked with the children and staff of University of York, Campus Nursery and together they explored clay as a sensory material and a source of imaginative play. With materials, natural resources and the forest for inspiration the children shared their interests and developed stories with Fiona.
Over the five weeks Fiona and the children explored the forest area, using it to tell stories and examine natural materials. They used clay on a large scale with other open-ended materials to create environments and objects, all the time speaking about their ideas and co-operative with each other.
“I worked with the essence of my practice, the clay itself and with the wonderful forest area next to the nursery… the children’s expression is the product. Not a single pot was made but lots of things and ideas and conversations came out of it
During the residency at the York Campus Nursery, my usual approach to workshops as an artist has been profoundly challenged because the emphasis is not on a logical sequential process that comes to a more or less expected conclusion. Instead it has been about engaging the children and stimulating their curiosity and seeing where that leads. I feel that I can set up engaging events which are nevertheless open ended and interactive and that will encourage the creativity of young children.
I felt my relationship with the children and the staff was very important. I made a point of engaging parents by talking to them at collecting time and putting information in the newsletter.
So what has changed for me? I think the core is that the experience of doing the residency and doing the process with the reflection and the mentoring has given me a basic foundation and knowledge of how to engage with early years learning. “
She also was one of the Leeds Art Forms Carousel artists, working with three schools in ceramics. The products were shown in exhibition at Trinity Church, Leeds in June 2011. A Secondary School Art teacher said, “I would not hesitate from using an artist who has taken part in this scheme.”