Meet the Volunteers - Jennifer Smith

Our 'Meet the Volunteers' blog series is back! We'll start this block with the brilliant Jennifer Smith, who has been volunteering with both our Create Saturday classes and our Aspire group.

"I am a ceramicist based at the Fireworks studio in Glasgow making illustrated, functional ware. I use a variety of techniques including slip casting, throwing and hand building. I then use these forms as canvases for my original illustrations. I often use a technique called sgraffito to carve my designs into the clay. These line drawings are picked out using a stain or slip inlay and coloured with underglaze.
In the past I have set up creative workshops and taught classes with a number of creative organisations and absolutely loved it so I was looking for more opportunities where I could get involved. Having seen some of the brilliant work made at Project Ability when I came to their exhibitions, I was really pleased to get the opportunity to volunteer here.

I volunteer for both the Saturday Create classes and the Monday Aspire classes which is brilliant because I get to work with people of all ages. I’ve found that the experience of working with both classes has really helped me get the most out of the time I’ve got here.
As I’ve gotten to know the artists better I’ve found it really interesting to see what they’re drawn to. A lot of the time the work reflects their interests or their affinity for a particular medium and hearing about the ideas behind the work is just as interesting as the work itself. The work is boundless too. It’s really exciting to have someone ask for a 6ft canvas in the morning and have a huge masterpiece completed by the afternoon.  The facilities here allow for an incredible creative freedom with ceramics, glass, printmaking, painting, drawing, and sculpture all at your fingertips. In helping the artists I’ve learnt new printmaking techniques, creative ways to scale up initial drawings and how to be more instinctive in the way I make my own work.
The workshop leaders have also been brilliant to work with. They’ve been really generous in offering me advice, sharing their experience and even supplying a good Saturday morning empire biscuit! There’s a shared enthusiasm from everyone working here and it’s infectious. I’m genuinely really sad that it’s only another 8 weeks to go.

I think the most unexpected plus side has been the impact that volunteering here has had on my own work. I’m far less precious about coming up with ideas and far more bold to just try things and see. As a maker it’s easy to become wrapped up in the ‘right’ way to do something, or the proper techniques. Of course there’s some merit to that, but you can also unconsciously restrict yourself so I think it’s done me good.
All in all working with Project Ability has really freed up my ideas and reinvigorated my work. I’ve met some brilliant people, had a lot of fun, I’ve also grown as an artist and learnt a lot. I look forward to seeing what innovative work the next 8 weeks will bring!"

Thank you Jennifer!

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