TouchI was first introduced to clay at the age of eight in St. Joseph's and it was that initiation that fostered my love for handling a material that is somehow always different to the touch, sometimes cold and soft like a thick sludge, on other occasions humid but solid like a rock, as well as any one of a multitude of descriptions one can find in between. However, it is the plasticity of clay, which still today makes it so attractive to me, primarily because this allows me the freedom to work the clay directly with my hands.
An Exhibition of Ceramic Sculpture
Pupils of St. Joseph's School for Visually Impaired Boys
Royal Hibernian Academy Gallagher Gallery
Dublin November 93
As a child I doubt if I understood the potential of this material to reflect the process I used to gather information about my environment, let alone record in very subtle abstract ways the things that excited me most, Sight while always my most relied upon sense, it has nonetheless instinctively been backed up by touch, sound, smell and taste. Although I have memories of different pieces I made while I was a student at St. Joseph's some of which are part of this exhibition, however my over riding memory is what 1 would describe as a sense of clay'.
The use any visually impaired person makes of their other senses is not only dependent on the amount and use they make of their sight, but also the level by which the environment they live within stimulates inquiry and their further exploration. It is at this point that the other senses instinctively find their use and incomplete visual perceptions are pieced together for a more adequate understanding in a sensory montage of touch, sound, smell and taste.
The use of touch as a means to create tactile images clearly illustrates how senses other than sight can be used not just by visually impaired people but by the fully sighted who are becoming ever more dependent on the cramming of visual information which often denies access to the subtleties in our environment. What my work at this stage represents for me is the preliminary stage in the development of a tactile language, something 1 would like to see grow and be a part of its maturing.
It is therefore imperative that the visitor not only looks at each exhibit, but also enters into its spirit and way of creation, 'a sense of clay'.
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