Ammie Sykes is a socially engaged ceramic artist with over 25 years’ experience of delivering creative projects in communities, schools and well-being services settings. As part of her projects for South Pennines Park, she worked with young families at Gallery Oldham and Lees Park Eco Hub, and with the Kirklees Sanctuary Clothing Project from Huddersfield, exploring the Colne Valley in Yorkshire.


Ammie describes the projects:

The Sanctuary Clothing Project: Exploring The Colne Valley

Working with the project co-ordinator and volunteers from the Sanctuary Clothing Project was a real pleasure from the moment I met everyone at Marsden train station. Our adventure began with a spontaneous trip on the shuttle boat to Marsden visitor centre where we explored the garden herbs and plants. Together we modelled clay flowers, smelled and tasted edible leaves and shared conversations about herbs and plants from the volunteers’ own countries of origin.

Our project has been a mix of exploring the Colne Valley by public transport, walking together and building friendships over clay craft activities. 

Food featured as a universal language that encourages sharing of cultures and creates a welcoming social interaction. One of the art walks evolved into a picnic takeover with delicious foods from across the world and meant that we all experienced new tastes and views. 

The group visited my studio and made bowls on the potter’s wheel. We wanted to create objects that have personal meaning and I have since been sent images of the bowls in use for serving food. I love the idea that making our own functional objects means they have a more positive environmental impact through longevity of use and shared meanings. 


Seasons and Senses

National Play Day at Gallery Oldham was a true Pennine experience, we experienced all of the weather in one day. What didn’t happen naturally we explored through sensory play. The sessions took place outside with wonderful view of the moors, we created mini landscapes from plants, soil and clay. The children playfully explored temperature and smell with water and ice infused with herbs.

More families joined us at Lees Park Eco Hub a hidden gem allotment that made us very welcome. Alan at the Hub shares with local residents how they can grow their own food and explore nature on their doorstep. Using mirrors and cardboard frames we slowed down our pace and looked at nature in new ways, looking up, under and between leaves and undergrowth. We collected leaves to create journey sticks to remind us of our visit. The children had the chance to meet new baby frogs, dig in the soil and build dens. All of this led to some interesting conversations with parents, grandparents and carers who are often the best experts on local knowledge, where to go with children and where the barriers exist. The value of playing together and more spaces like the Eco Hub was something we all agreed on.

Film & image credits: Studio Bokehgo

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