GOING POTTY: Jill McDonald and Christine Ripper snagged a place in the sold-out wheel-thrown pottery workshops.
GOING POTTY: Jill McDonald and Christine Ripper snagged a place in the sold-out wheel-thrown pottery workshops. Tessa Mapstone

Why people can't get enough of playing in the mud

THE muddy little studio on Penny Arcade is a busy place.

It opens at 10am every morning and doesn't close until 7.30pm, and every wheel-thrown pottery session scheduled for the whole festival was booked out by 9am on the first day.

Potters of Woodfordia co-ordinator Kari said there was something about working with clay that brought people flocking to get their hands dirty every year.

"It's back-to-back all day long. They always book out, it's very popular," she said.

"I think ... in our modern world we are so disconnected from how products are made we actually don't know how cakes are made, how our shoes are made, or how crockery is made, our clothing. We don't see things being made.

"In times gone by there was the shoemaker, the blacksmith, and you went in and ordered something and you could basically see and get how it was made.

"And these days all of that is just so removed from our daily life that when we do see something being made, it's absolutely captivating."

Artist Merrie Tomkins, who this year is running hand-built clay workshops, said trying their hand at pottery and sculpture was one way people could get back to basics.

"I think people like to experience things that they haven't done before," she said.

"This is a chance for people to get a taste of those things that they haven't got to do before."

Clay works made during the festival will be collected and built into an enormous sculpture called The Lighthouse Beacon because it will be lit from inside and shine like a beacon.

Singaporean sculptor Steven Low has been invited to build it, the idea being to create a large-scale collaboration.

"A beginner is a beginner, and to help make their experience more relevant," Kari said.

"Our aim is all about community and doing something together, and contributing to something bigger than you are." 


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