Rowena Coxwell joins one of her pottery students from the Monday disability group at the Drill Hall.
Rowena Coxwell joins one of her pottery students from the Monday disability group at the Drill Hall.

Rowena reaches out to disabled

Professional potter and pottery teacher Rowena Coxwell became interested in using pottery as a creative activity for people with special needs a few years ago and has never looked back.


Ms Coxwell is from London and has been a ‘potter in residence’ with the Mullumbimby Pottery Association based at the Drill Hall for the last six months.


Each Monday, Ms Coxwell has been assisting a disability group with pottery people from Red Ink, the Accommodation Network and other individuals.


“During my time here I have worked with people with a wide range of disabilities, some severe. All find enjoyment, increased concentration, better co-ordination, communication and often pure joy,” she said.


Ms Coxwell said the potter’s turning wheel was visually enticing and when people held the wet spinning clay with both hands, they got the tactile pleasure in observing a pot forming that was all of their own making.


“As well as finding the activity exciting, pupils have a wonderful sense of achievement as we take the pot off the wheel. Each pot is as unique as the person who made it and it can then be decorated and fired for them to keep, to show to others, or give as gifts,” she said.


Ms Coxwell has seen severely autistic and brain-damaged children come out of their solitary world and become communicative, gaining confidence and interest.


“One normally shy and withdrawn autistic boy put his hands onto the spinning clay, started laughing and said ‘It’s the funfair for my fingers!’,” she said.


Ms Coxwell returns to London this week where she plans to run workshops in special schools. She also wants to run more residential courses for special needs groups and their carers in her house and studio in France.


However, she vows to come back to Mullumbimby.


“I shall be sorry to leave this truly lovely place and all the friends I have made here, and would like to thank all the great people who have made my stay so enjoyable and productive,” Ms Coxwell said.


The Mullumbimby Potters Association is having an exhibition on November 20 and 21 at the studio next to the Drill Hall where work can be viewed and purchased, just in time for Christmas.


For more information about Rowena Coxwell’s work visit www.ammonitepottery.com


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