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Helwaters

Helwaters

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Liz Ballard
A celebration of clay, water, flint and flora at Helgate Pottery

Drawn from her experimentation with casting, construction, glazing and knapping, Liz has developed a series of water features using thrown, cast and hand-built clay vessels. Combined with found round objects, the pieces have been assembled and direct water in various ways to enjoy its physical and sensory qualities.

Liz has dug a pond in the yard and lined it with clay, mixed from china clay and water in a traditional method using feet called treading. The pond has been filled with harvested rainwater and the surrounding yard decorated with knapped flint from stones found when digging the hole. This flint was likely once part of the buildings that stood in place of present day Helgate, demolished during ‘urban renewal’ in the 1930s. Flint references both the cultural and natural heritage of the city, for example the neighbouring St Swithin Church (now Norwich Arts Centre) and the 16th century flint rubble and timber framed former Queen of Hungary Inn, as well as other historic yards of Norwich where hidden works of art were created – for example the amazing Shell Garden built by the Frewer family in St James Palace Yard in the 1870’s.

Robert Frewer was a flint-knapper who lived with his wife Elizabeth in Palace Yard off Barrack Street, where residents shared water supplies from a single pump not dissimilar to the dilapidated toilet and wash area at Helgate, which once serviced at least 14 households within Queen of Hungary Yard. Robert collected shells (probably from a local fish shop) and created Shell Garden, also known as The Fountain, which people travelled miles to look at. Floods in 1912 caused death and widespread destruction, sweeping the garden away never to be seen again.

Responding to the yards of Norwich as historic sites for living and making art, Liz brings together handmade objects with common and found materials, resulting in a series of sculptures that bond us with communities both past and present. Through generous collaborations with artists Kaavous Clayton, Ned Davies, Rollo Timothy George, Ren Wickwar and Alex Sanders, she has created water features that provide moments of union and sharing. Her capture and display of harvested rainwater gives us an opportunity to pause together and take in its sensory qualities, while her various sculptures act as gestures of care and celebration.

For more information about Norwich’s Yards please seek out The Old Courts and Yards of Norwich by Frances and Michael Holmes. Special thanks to Hannah Henderson, Frances Holmes, Derek James, and the wider community at Helgate. Images on reverse: Frewer Family in Shell Garden/Jenny Sumser-Lumpson, Queen of Hungary Yard Etc. Clearance Area/Norfolk Record Office, Queen of Hungary Yard Clearance Order/Norfolk Record Office 

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