On the gravestones, you will find words, poems, scripture, dates, lettering styles, shapes, as well as information, facts, love letters, emotion, ambition, dreams fulfilled or thwarted, and lives cut short. These can be used as the inspiration for individual artworks.

numbers on headstone

 

Task 1: To design and make a piece of artwork based on the gravestones in the cemetery

Classroom work pre-visit

Activity: Before your visit have a look at the work of designer and sculptor Eric Gill, there are some examples of his work in Kettle’s Yard.

At the cemetery

Activity: Make notes, rubbings and drawings of lettering styles, words and fragments. Look at the surroundings and environment.

Classroom work after the visit

Activity: Design a stone, to be viewed from above when it is on the ground. Cut up lettering from newspapers or other alphabets. Glue, then varnish on to your stone, slab or slate. Will all the message be there, or just fragments and clues? Could you use pieces of wood or clay to make raised letters or detail? Is this like a text message? Who is the recipient? Are they living or dead? What about colour and/or imagery?

Equipment needed:
A stone, slab or slate found in a garden or skip, or bought from a builders’ yard
Lettering from alphabets or newspapers
Scissors
PVA glue or varnish
Clay or wood
Acrylic paint

Task 2: To look at the shapes of the gravestones in the cemetery and create a clay sculpture or relief based on findings.

Classroom work pre-visit

Activity: Have a look at the work of Barbara Hepworth: her sculpture, ‘Group of Three Magic Stones’ can be found in Kettle’s Yard. See also the work of Richard Long – his ‘Walking in Landscapes’ are sculptures on a huge scale.

At the cemetery

Activity: In the cemetery, make sketches of the stones. Draw the shapes and record the details. Look out for crouching angels, twisting ivy, crosses, circles, stone pillows, barley twist, iron fences. Also look out for some of the famous and ornate graves marked on your map, especially those of James Rattee, James Reynolds, and the Lawrence family. Take the long view, stoop or kneel down and sketch a number of gravestones one behind another.

Classroom work after the visit

Activity: Use your gathered information to make some clay arches. The easiest modelling material is probably new clay, but salt dough can also be used.
1. Roll out a piece of clay into a sausage shape. The amount of clay used will determine the size of the arch. Keep some extra clay for details and embellishment. (Don’t roll the clay too thinly or it will break and crumble – unless this is the effect you are trying to create, having looked at the weathering on some of the graves.) Bend the sausage into an arch and make adjustments to the shape. Flatten slightly and embellish. Make sure that you use some water or slip to attached pieces and smooth out any cracks. Make more than one arch and arrange as a group.
You could paint a picture from your sketch book and use the arch as a frame.
2. Roll out a piece of clay between two pieces of square doweling. Cut into shape. Use extra clay to decorate. Will it stand up or lie down? Make a few shapes and arrange them as a sculpture.

Equipment needed:
New clay
Clay tools (or simply a bamboo skewer and plastic knife)
Hessian mat to work on
Water
Paint and paper if creating painting from sketch book