The Ouseburn Community Project based at the Ouseburn Farm is funded through Newcastle City Learning and offers participants the opportunity to engage in a creative project exploring the Ouseburn Valley, from street names, to wild plants, heritage and husbandry. Working in partnership with the Ouseburn Farm and exploiting fantastic local resources such as the Ouseburn Trust, Northern Print Studio and 36 Lime street, participants are researching personal and collective interests and transforming these creative ideas into prints and colourful brick work.
I first worked with Birtley based Ibstock Brick Factory in 2008. This short residency allowed me to get to grips with the firing process, work in the factory and experiment with some of the coloured stains. Drawing on my printmaking experience seemed like a natural direction to explore, I tried screen printing the stains (unsuccessfully), I used lino cuts to make indentations into the wet brick clay and wooden type. The indentations in the brick clay mirrored a relief printing process, I was therefore able to roll colours over the top of the brick clay.
Working at the Ouseburn Farm is a very different environment to Birtleys Brick Factory. The brick clay prefers a cold environment to stop it drying out. The process of carving into it is extremely messy. The farm however, presents a wealth of information to refer to and incorporate directly into the brick clay itself.
The project is open ended, there is no specific brief other than experimentation, collaboration and community building. Stencil making lends itself well to transferring design ideas onto wet brick clay. These stencils also have the potential to feed into a local campaign led by Under the Bridge, Donate a Stencil.