White River Place in St Austell was filled with families on Saturday 21st September, all eagerly anticipating the performance of Clay Songs from three local schools.

Led by singer-song writer Emma Mansfield, the children took to the stage and belted out five original songs, including aSchool pupils sing at Whitegold Festival rap and a rock song!  The incredible lyrics touched upon the beautiful nature that has re-grown over the clay works, the sounds of the industry in times gone by and the people who worked the clay.  The audience were obviously impressed by the calibre of the work and parents proudly applauded the performance whilst the children beamed with a huge sense of achievement.

Pondhu School, Carclaze School and Foxhole School all took part in the Whitegold Project which was organised by Wheal Martyn and the Cornwall Music Education Hub (CMEH).  The aim of the project was to introduce local children to their china clay heritage and fuel them with inspiration to write and perform songs about clay.

Gemma Martin, Education Officer at Wheal Martyn, explained the project:  “Each school visited Wheal Martyn and was immersed in the clay landscape and heritage.  We then challenged the children to capture their observations and reflections both in clay ceramic work and through creative writing.  Each school then crafted the beautiful material that they produced into a collaborative song set to music.  The final challenge was to perform in front of a real audience – which is quite a daunting prospect for most!  And they did an absolutely amazing job!”

Whitegold FestivalWhilst at Wheal Martyn, the schools all worked with Fleur Winter, a potter from Leach.  Fleur helped the children to develop skills in coil pots, adding relief work and imprints to create some impressive structures.

The Whitegold Project was a partnership between the main organisations Wheal Martyn, CMEH and Whitegold, as well as The Leach Pottery.  The unique nature of this project provided a great opportunity for young people to work alongside professionals and gain an insight into career options, whilst learning about their heritage and gaining a true sense of place.  What a great way to foster cultural capital in our young people!