Mod-roc to Masks


We all put on a mask of some sort during our life. The workshops I have undertaken this past year, explore the many varied approaches and methods of making a mask that 'hides what the face reveals and reveals what the face hides'.

I use aluminium wire or foil to make the initial shape that maybe moulded from our actual face or developed from a distorted self-portrait drawing. We may also focus at the design stage, on Inuit masks and the culture that surrounds them. The mask is then covered and embellished with mod-roc. This year I have had the opportunity to work with children from 3 to 18 years of age (and their teachers during INSET days) making masks. I was so struck by the absorbed concentration evident on the faces of even the youngest children who used the plaster impregnated bandage to make the most detailed fanciful features The children quickly learnt the basic techniques which then gave them confidence to develop their mask which is then decorated using paint and personal. items, fabrics, feathers, pictures and lots of sparkly bits if they can get away with it.

In the Summer term I undertook a residency at Kingsmead Community School, Wiveliscombe, where I worked with year 6 in their feeder primary schools. They each made a mask, incorporating an animal, that represented how they wanted to appear to others. The masks were displayed in the hall at the begriming of the new year and have been used in Art and Drama during the first term.

Connections appear when playing and experimenting with materials and techniques that suggest a direction for the piece to develop. Maybe we create our alter ego through the making of the mask but from my experience it is a wonderful way of exploring our creativity and developing the self confidence of those not familiar with the joys of just making things.

The following photographs show examples of workshops held with adults at an INSET day with Primary School teachers in Bristol, and masks made with primary school children and GSCE students.

For further information about this or the Shoe Sculpture Workshops, please contact
Jenni at Hurstone Artfarm, Waterrow, Somerset, TA4 2AT or Tel.(01984 624302) or e-mail

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