Around 5,000 clay figures, depicting players and spectators of Ashbourne’s Shrovetide football game, have gone on display in St Oswald’s church in the town.
The ‘Our Game’ project, launched by Ashbourne Festival and The Clayrooms, is the culmination of four months’ work involving more than 2,000 school children and hundreds of adults from communities in and around Ashbourne.
Between them they have created the individual small clay figures, which have been installed in the church and will remain there until September.
The figures include players in the hug, followers of the game, mums carrying babies and even some ‘out-of-town’ characters, such as Gandalf and ET. Each figure is unique and has its own character.
The Revd Duncan Ballard, vicar of St Oswald’s said: “In a fast-changing, busy world some communities struggle to retain their identity; however, Ashbourne is a place where tradition, community and pride come together every year for Shrovetide Football.
“It’s therefore very fitting that the clay figures, symbolically representing the whole of the town, have found a home surrounding the high altar at St Oswald’s church.
“St Oswald’s church is delighted to be a part of this project, demonstrating that the church is here for everyone, and that our doors will always be wide open.”
This ambitious project was developed for the Ashbourne Festival in partnership with The Clayrooms pottery in Ashbourne. Local ceramicists and teachers, Helen Cammiss and Sarah Heaton, who founded the pottery last year, originated the idea for ‘Our Game’.
The 5,000 small figures have been created by schoolchildren, local residents and visitors during school visits, ‘pop-up’ workshops and in The Clayrooms studio.
It represents the sense of community involvement and inclusiveness and, of course, the pride in celebrating ‘Our Game’ shown by every maker of every figure.
To top off the centrepiece of the ‘hug’, a special ‘Our Game’ ball has been painted by Shrovetide ball painter Tim Baker.