Błotko – children’s exhibition on mud, nature and imagination
Błotko is children’s tale of clay, of the nature which contains it, and of imagination. And that would be it – after all, whatever can be expressed by imagination which draws on the experiences of nature is in the hands, heads and interpretation of the audience. We do not explain the world but rather experience it, colour it and look for our own images.
The idea for this exhibition was conceived after I observed my son’s hands kneading clay with wild abandon. There was no particular purpose to it, he just enjoyed its plasticity, checked his own trace, experienced coldness and warmth, softness and hardness. Watching it, I felt happy and fulfilled.
The second trail that led me to the formula of this project was Emma Adbage’s book The Hole Behind the Gym. It is a story about a group of schoolchildren whose favourite pastime during the breaks is playing in a pit, an activity which is frowned upon by both their parents and teachers.
The narrator tells the story of children who passionately dig out wild clay, slide on it and do all kinds of things that bring them earthly pleasures. The eponymous hole behind the school gymnasium is their freedom, self-organization and independence. The children use a material place and its potential to build a world in which there is still so much to discover. So I came up with the idea of children creating an exhibition about clay, an earthly matter, and its possibilities.
That is how Błotko was born – an exhibition that followed an artistic plein-air session for children. The artist who conducted it, and also prepared the exhibition design, was Natalia Kopytko. The children who participated in the activities, together with the designer Bartosz Brylewski, looked for wild clay. The biologist and researcher of bats Łukasz Iwaniuk talked about ways in which animals use clay to build burrows, nests and hideouts. Inspired by the animal activities and the clay itself, the children created their own world of nature and imagination.
Used by people to make utilitarian objects for centuries, clay also has the potential to inspire the creation of magical universes, full of mysteries and meanings. In Greek mythology, Prometheus moulded men by mixing clay with tears. He gave them souls from the divine fire stolen from the chariot of Helios. “Made of the same clay” means being similar. When we hold clay in our hands, we touch Nature. We are part of it.