• The Turnpike Pottery

Florence Peake: Getting messy

Updated: Sep 12, 2018

Florence Peake is a London-based artist who has been producing work since 1995. Through performance practice, Peake uses media such as: drawing, painting and sculpture. Humour, live recorded text and music are key elements for her work. Public performances and carefully choreographed works enable her to challenge ideas of loss and political concerns that connect with the audience through expression and experiences.

Peake began by introducing herself and her work, of which included using raw clay with the notion of movements and sounds and how the two become one through music or a subject matter.

Using the media of clay combined with music, allowed the young people to respond to different pitches and speeds within the music. Changing the speed of music changed the interaction with the clay, for example, when the rhythm of the music was slow and anxious, she would slowly stroke the clay or begin to use smaller, sharper movements. On the other hand, when the music was upbeat and angry, Peake and the young people would indent the clay faster to mirror the rhythm - showing how the music affected the way the clay was handled. Kyle, a young person on the workshops said that this session was ‘unique’ and his favourite part was creating clay forms whilst listening to music, which was something he had never done before.

The next exercise was to look at another person and guess their emotions, whilst trying to put them emotions into the clay. This relates to the previous workshop of animal spirits as Peake allowed the young people to understand another person’s facial expressions and personality. Kyle said: ‘holding a piece of clay between two people’s backs and keeping it upright across a room as funny.’ This was important as it made the young people think about letting their body become free to movement. Thus, helping the young people understand the act of dancing and more so, Peake’s practice.

Ellie, a young person on the Lindsey Mendick project, thought that Florence Peake was her ‘favourite artist yet and it was something different, dance and art combined, it was contemporary’. Moreover, a volunteer at the workshops for this project, Ruth, believed that the artist is ‘a free-spirit, confident and a great performer.’ Ruth admitted that she has seen dance with props before, however she hadn’t seen raw clay used as a prop.

Words by Saffron Ramsey