All that remains

Photos of the clay figures are beginning to come in, for which I’m very grateful. There’s something quite liberating for me in the fact that for these 40 days I don’t have any responsibility for them – whatever happens to them, let it happen. Unlike the paintings I’m wrestling with at the moment where every brush stroke seems to take me on a roller coaster between glory and despondency (which is why, for the moment, I won’t be showing how they’re progressing!).

Nevertheless, I still think about how the children are doing. Some of them I pass in the city centre and I see that one has become just a grey smear on the tarmac, others have disappeared completely whilst a few remain intact and keep up their quiet vigil.

Others are succumbing to the elements – like this photo I received from Ecclesall Woods with the comment ‘not sure what it is/was’:


This gets towards the heart of what I am trying to explore with this project, when I finally gather up all that remains (which may well be very little) we will be able to see what effect the world has had on these fragile figures. Some will be worn down by rain, wind and time, some will have been swept away by street sweepers or stolen, or crushed underfoot. One remains in a church where, I suspect, it will stay safe and unchanged.

I remember when my first child was born – he was so fragile and perfect, untouched by the rigours of life. I was aware as soon as we stepped out of the sterile hospital into the cloud of smokers congregating at the entrance that moving out into the world meant becoming polluted, becoming dirty and damaged. But what kind of life is spent in a sterile space? It’s when we start to get dirty that we change, grow and become more human.

If we have the courage to engage with the world rather than retreat from it, if we succumb to the danger of growth, people may looked at our messy and damaged lives and say ‘not sure what it is’. But in the end, when we survey all that remains, at least we will be able to say ‘I have lived’.


Details of opening times for the wilderness exhibition, of which this work will be a part, are now available at

3 thoughts on “All that remains

  1. I love what you are doing with this project. And I was particularly challenged by the comment you made about the one that was left in the church. After all – isn’t church the place where we shouldn’t remain unchanged, if we are living to follow Jesus? I realise there are many Christians who feel they would rather withdraw from the world, to the safe environment of church. But that is not what I see Jesus doing. I see Jesus engaging with the world – being out there with the bmx boys, on the streets where people live, even associating with those who are regarded as rubbish – in fact in the very places that the children of clay have been left. This project has inspired me! Thank you. Leesa

  2. A couple of people who have seen the poem I wrote during the Meditation at Wesley Hall, suggested I share it with you, so here goes:Little people of clayWatchmen in the shadowsReminding us we are seen, noticed,watched night and dayReminding us we are fragilealso moulded of clayReminding us what life bringsbreaks, scatters, l ooses, and devaluesReminding us even in our wildernessour brokennesswe are not forgottenby our makerHe comes looking, searching, finding us…..little people of clay.Thanks for the inspiration of the "little people of clay" the Exhibition and your blog.

  3. Thanks Leesa – i think you’re right, too often the church takes the safe easy route whilst Jesus is out there in all the glorious mess of the world getting his hands dirty and loving people, if we follow him there it opens up the risky possibilitiy that we may actually be changed by our encounters.And thanks for the poem Coleen – wonderful stuff, it was really good to see you the other week.Every blessing, Ric

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