Haven by Sonya Wilkins Ceramics

Finding Haven

An Immersive Offering

I always knew my ceramic activator vessels would become part of an immersive experience at some point during my masters course. It wasn’t until I reached trimester three, at the end of July, that I realised the time had arrived to create ‘Haven’.

Much like my whole making practise to date, creating ‘Haven’ was an organic process. So it felt apt that my starting point and foundation for the installation was earth – a living ecosystem.

Below are a list of components that constituted ‘Haven’. Each one a different exploration of energy as matter, yet manifest in different sensual frequencies for people to experience and immerse themselves in – touch, sight, sound, smell; I even offered forest aromas in contemplation bowls so people could benefit from the terpenes release by trees in the forest.

Earth Mound Creation

Seating Curation

Tree Projections

Light Language & Tree Sound

Forest Aromas

Greater Than The Sum Of It’s Parts

The curation of these 5 aspects was delivered in a dedicated, purpose driven and authentic manner; I was no longer driving the process, the process was driving me.

Nurturing ‘Haven’ had become a ritual.  Over a 5 week period I had become custodian and hence found it strange not to be alongside this transforming installation. What’s more, I realised the installation was transforming me in the process…in some ways we had become intertwined. Haven was greater than the sum of it’s parts and I was one of those parts – part of an assemblage of intention focused and resonate particles. This feeling reminded me of a couple of quotes from Bennett (2012 p. 237-238) “there is a metaphysical tradition in the west that engages stuff – animal, vegetable and mineral – as lively intensity, as vital force” and “that everything has an impetus to seek alliances that enhance it’s vitality”. My practise of pulling together these vegetal, mineral and technical objects had encouraged a vital growth to occur and one that emitted an energy far greater than the individual parts.

Haven: A Well-being Catalyst

I was so very pleased to see that all who visited Haven clearly found refuge in her well-being atmosphere. Many of my fellow students who invigilated on days when I wasn’t there, said that people came back to sit and dwell numerous times. One person entered the space and told me they sighed a great relief, sat allowing the trees to nourish them and felt so replenished as a result. My friend’s daughter was captivated by the forest aromas and intuitively knew exactly what to do – showing no restraint to clasp the bowls in her hands and absorb the terpenes.

This can only be testament to the energy I had helped to hone over the last 5 weeks. I don’t feel like I can take credit, perhaps only for holding the intention and determination. The minerals in the ceramic and clay vessels, made in earth spoke back to the earth mound; the vegetal beings nurtured by the earth emanated their own vital life force; the echoes from the trees resonated with the real live trees back on location and my voice acting as a vehicle for their messages was simply a translation of tree wisdom.

Every person who visited contributed to the resonance of the assemblage.  After all, we are all made of the same matter and have a direct influence on all that is visible and unseen. My hope is that I will be able to re-create ‘Haven’ again and even offer a smaller more portable version in people’s homes and dwelling spaces, so the journey continues…

>>Enter ‘Haven’


Goodbye ‘Haven’

A Personal Message From Sonya

Sonya Wilkins and Haven


Bennett, J. (2012) Powers of the Hoard: Further Notes on Material Agency. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books