Kate's Pond
Clay in the Vale of York

In 2005 restoration began on an old silted-up farm pond near Shipton-by-Beningbrough revealing the deep layer of clay lying under the Vale of York deposited at the end of the last ice age by melt water carrying material from the retreating glaciers.

Clearly visible on the first Ordinance Survey of 1853, the pond would have been the clay pit providing the material from which the farmhouse was built, the making and firing of the bricks and tiles taking place on site.

Widespread though it is, clay as a material goes largely unremarked yet its products have always been part of everyday life in the form of pots for food and ritual and has left its mark on the landscape whether as building material, fabric of farm buildings and land drainage, or as old clay pits and brick ponds providing freshwater habitats.

In this project I used clay recovered from the pond to make three large open vessels and assisted each member of the Turnbull family create their personal object marking the restoration of the pond on their farm. The resulting works were fired in situ and formed the basis of an exhibition at the Laurence Sterne Trust in which I included both contemporary and historic items relating to the local use of the clay and its effect on the immediate environment. A photographic archive of the whole project was provided by artist Lyn Wait.

Supported by: Arts Council England, English Heritage,
  The Laurence Sterne Trust York Handmade Brick Co.