Parasite Ceramics is changing. We have always placed community values, co-creative partnerships and sense of identity at the heart of what we do. As we’ve developed and grown as professionals, we are placing even more focus on cohesion, collaboration and the experiences of the audience in our working process. Although much of our output involves clay, our primary material is people.
Clay is a visceral engagement tool. It promotes health and wellbeing, enhances memory and cognitive perception and acts as catalyst for developing narratives and the stories that bind people together. It helps us to create multiple languages; verbal, visual and meta. It helps us to reach participants of all ages, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. We do this in housing estates, playing fields, museums, industrial buildings and on the streets.
When we started working together in 2010, a large part of our mission statement was to spread the word of clay. A material that was losing its agency in the world of education, and thereafter, art and design practice.
However, in an increasingly digitised world with question marks about its influence in our working lives and leisure pursuits, it’s clear that people recognise the importance of how things are made, where they came from and our responsibility to our local and national needs, i.e. our material existence. Therefore, contemporary craft is being re-evaluated. And with that has come the re-emergence of clay. We think this is the right time to evaluate our own practice and what we can offer as craftspeople, designers and thinkers. We see craft less as a noun, but more as a powerful verb. We would focus on how we can offer artistic activities that create more critical and contextual discourse, as well as create experiences that involve the head, heart and hands. We have always developed narratives to encourage placemaking and identity.
The quality and values of our projects are earned through relationships first of all, and the artworks have always been secondary to that. This is the balance that makes community engagement an interesting discipline to work in. Experience has taught us that working directly with the public can create new and varied meaning, but also that ambiguity or too much interpretation can sometimes lead to indifference. And so the question for us right now is, how much facilitation is enough, to ask the bigger questions?
For our latest project, please visit the White Gold Festival, Cornwall.