Jennifer Louise Martin (39)

Clay Heads

Jennifer Louise Martin

Air drying clay, plasticine and collage

Approx. 10 x 10 cm each

“[Lockdown] has definitely impacted on my recovery from postnatal depression, but at the same time allowed me to also focus on it.”

Jennifer Louise Martin

Jennifer’s Lockdown Project

‘I made these clay heads during Covid- 19 lockdown in art therapy sessions. As I was suffering from postnatal depression and then lockdown made my recovery slower and harder as I felt at times trapped in the house. It was a way to release my very disturbing emotions and a cathartic, powerful experience to see the clay self-portrait stare back at me. Each head represents the emotion I was feeling or had suffered from since having my baby who is now 21 months old. Feelings such as exhaustion, anxiety, depression, fear, rage. They are made with air drying clay, some with plasticine and collage. The result was always a bit of a surprise to me and it was more about the process that I found to be very therapeutic and healing. I also found moulding and manipulating the clay very rewarding as the faces changed many times during the making of them, until I was satisfied with the end result.  Lockdown had many challenges and through art I was able to regulate and release my emotions.

Jean, Jennifer Louise Martin. Pencil drawing, 21 x 30 cm

I found using clay very therapeutic and I usually paint, so using a physical material with my hands was a new experience. I am also now using my clay heads to draw from and feel very inspired with my outcome as I feel they display raw emotion and come from deep inside me.

In general painting has always improved my mental health as it is my form of meditation and stills my mind, but during the pandemic I felt more of an urgency to create as a way of survival. I am not sure what I would haved done without art during this time. It got me through and became my lifeline.

Head 1, Jennifer Louise Martin. Painting, 60 x 75 cm.
Self-Portrait I, Jennifer Louise Martin. Air drying clay, approx. 10 x 10 cm

I also ran another project called Art to Heart where I put a call out to people to send me a photo of a loved one living in isolation. I then drew them and sent it to them in the post as a way of connecting to them.

For me, at the start of lockdown, I enjoyed being forced to slow down and focus on eating well and resting. There were less distractions and I was able to create quite freely. However after about 3 months, my frustration kicked in and I felt physically and mentally trapped. Not being able to see friends or go swimming had a huge impact on me. It has definitely impacted on my recovery from postnatal depression, but at the same time allowed me to also focus on it. 

Mother and Daughter, Jennifer Louise Martin. Plasticine and collage, approx. 10 x 20 cm.

[Covid-19] has influenced me because I have started using clay, which I never thought I enjoyed. I also experimented a lot more in my own painting practice by drawing self-portraits which is something I have not done in the past. I used my face instead of other people’s to practice my life drawing and internally reflect.

I also taught my art classes to children (@artbuddieslondon) over Zoom which was really successful and inspired lots of new ideas. Art suddenly became more collaborative and about connection.  My Art to Heart project was a way of giving back to the community and using art as  a powerful method of communication, connecting human to human in a time of emotional need and despair.’

Self-Portrait II, Jennifer Louise Martin. Clay, plasticine and collage, approx. 10 x 10 cm.

To learn how to make Clay Heads, see Jennifer’s workshop on our Create page.

Also, to see more of Jennifer’s work, visit her instagram page or her website.

Text and images © Jennifer Louise Martin

Burgh House
New End Square