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New Beginnings by Mary Byrne

CLAY JOURNEYS – Participation with Galway Simon Community

FACILITATOR: Mary Byrne – Member of Clay Galway.

The Simon Community potters’ group have participated in the Clay Journeys project organised by members of Clay Galway and funded through Galway 2020.

It felt unusual to say the least to facilitate our gatherings virtually, especially for a medium that is so hands-on. Having said that, it has been extremely rewarding to keep on making in spite of lock-down restrictions. Although it was not possible to launch our boats into the sea as planned, we remained determined to continue making and sharing ideas. Our gatherings were facilitated using Zoom with much assistance from Fiona, Simon’s ever-helpful occupational therapist. Participants are from a number of households around Galway and the County. Whilst dealing with technology could be challenging, it actually became our “new normal”. Meetings took place on Thursdays at 11.00 a.m., the first being on 20 August 2020. For four consecutive weeks we were dedicated to making boats and chatting about the theme to our involvement. Our boats are made and ready to set sail. It has been therapeutic for all to have “the chat” whilst crafting away.

New Beginnings” was a theme mooted. The group were happy to take on the challenge – coping with the pandemic and gathering virtually. We are transitioning into the unknown and doing our best to find ways to remain creative in uncertain times. These meet-ups proved to be about much more than pottery. Similar to when we could actually gather, the sense of comradery and fun was equally satisfying as delving into clay. Our boats came in many shapes and sizes from speed boats to rowing boats with some canoes and sail boats too – all setting out and beginning again. This reflected life and its inevitable setbacks. Regardless of the origin of hurt, be it homelessness, bereavement, illness or ongoing struggles, these vessels became symbolic of new beginnings – starting over and refusing to give up.

As can be witnessed from the photos, the boats remain intact although extremely fragile as they are unfired. We aim to have pieces ready for exhibit when possible. From cocooning to exhibiting in the snow working with Clay Journeys has been a labour of love.

The quote below is from one of the Simon Community Potters:-

My own experience of making these clay boats was relaxing with a mixture of emotions. Together me and ****** done over 20 boats. Doing this project will and already has helped me to push the things that I have been struggling to get past – to be comfortable with them and know that they have happened but I can move forward. When we sail the boats in the sea it will help even more. Here are a few photos of some of the clay boats that we have done”.

For more information about the artist.