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Communities

Neil Jessop
Communities, 88 bone china pieces

The piece that I have made for the exhibition reflects my recent experience of joining a new school as head of department. I have made 88 small eggs using bone china slip, each one representing one of the GCSE and A Level boys that I have taught this year. At this new school I have implemented different approaches to learning in theories outlined by Hirsch, Montessori, Steiner, Friere and Apple in order to strive for academic success.
Although I am beginning to find successful ways to engage the boys in their learning, the extreme contrast between the 2 schools that I have worked in has been very challenging. In particular, it has been more difficult than I anticipated to attain high grades in this current school as many boys struggle with the workload of demanding coursework. Although I have had many successes, more students than I expected have not realised their full potential. I have found this difficult as I was very successful in my first school and now the work is proving more challenging.
I have chosen to make the pieces egg-shaped as I see the egg as a symbol of nurture and growth, which I as a teacher try to promote in the classroom. Each one of the eggs has a tea light candle placed within or around it. This symbolises what I have tried to achieve as their teacher, namely to inspire and to light up their true potential. However, not all of the eggs are of perfect form as some have been smashed and others are malformed. I have included these in my exhibition piece as an acknowledgement that life is not perfect and although I have tried hard to improve the results at the school, there will inevitably be setbacks and difficulties that will hinder success. I see this piece therefore as a therapeutic exercise for myself as I realise that I cannot make the results instantly perfect.
This process has helped me to accept that humanity and life itself is not perfect. In this situation I have had to adjust ambition and to accept that the students I teach now have different needs and aims from what I had previously expected and experienced. Therefore I have chosen to cast the piece in the extremely fragile material bone china slip which by its very nature seldom produces perfect results.
Since installing this exhibition I have found that some of the broken pieces are actually as interesting and beautiful as the perfectly formed ones, showing me that ill perfections are part of the cycle of life and should be embraced.

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