I have spent the past eighteen months searching for a reliable source of local clay. My search has led me again and again to the mountains of Ras al Khaimah (RAK) where Julfar Ware, the traditional pottery made in the UAE was produced for nine centuries.
There, I located small deposits of local clays and was given some traditional clay by the son of a potter, which was sourced by Bani Shemaili elders, the tribe historically associated with making the pottery. However, in order to fulfill my desire to create a body of work made from clay sourced solely in the UAE I needed to find a reliable and plentiful supply of clay.
In March 2014, I received an email from a quarry manager in RAK who had heard of my search and informed me he had a good source of clay. This short film records the day I collected three tones of raw clay from the quarry. It was an amazing journey, the first step towards the creation of my body of work and the culmination of months of research and discovery.
As well as celebrating the end of a long search for clay, the film also marks the beginning of a new journey of research and unearthing, the clay is in a raw state and has to undergo a rigorous refining process. I will grind, soak, sieve, wash and dry the clay in order to get it to a workable state before it is tested for plasticity, shrinkage and firing range so its true character can be revealed. I will carry out all of these processes by hand.
It is with this local clay that I will create a body of work, made solely from materials sourced in the UAE, which will be fired in a replica Julfar kiln.