chapter  3
17 Pages

From Clay to Ceramic

An Alchemical Process of Self-Transformation
WithJoshua Kin-Man Nan

Clay is a fundamental material on earth. Through an alchemical process of crafting clay, it can be transformed into beautiful ceramic. The distinctive characteristics of clay allows an artist the various possibilities for how to interact with it. Its sensory and plastic nature enhances the creation of many positive psychophysiological effects. The distinct life cycle of clay embodies and expresses the different phases of life. The narration of the stories happened in the pottery studio that I set up in Hong Kong, first, explicate how I developed and integrated Clay Art Therapy, the distinct approach of art therapy, to the local social work practice setting. Second, these stories exemplify how the constructing, destructing, and reconstructing processes of clay art making go through an alchemical process to transform clay into ceramic. Through the lengthy crafting processes of clay, the artist develops the craftsmanship and goes through a parallel inner alchemical process of transformation. The transformation of the soul comprises the discovery of the ability to create and re-create beautiful ceramic art pieces, the acquisition of the insight in the possibility of reorienting life after failures, and affirmation of more potentials in oneself to reconstruct a new life.