Flock Project

Ceramic artist Julie Nelson explores the connections, patterns and rhythms that appear throughout the natural world.

Flock Project was developed in collaboration with members of the Grounding Project, a specialist service for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

25 bird sculptures, created from Grounding Project members, are displayed as specimens from the Horniman collections.

The project was inspired by starling murmurations where resident and migrant birds form organic shapes together in the sky.

Conversations and ideas between Julie and Grounding Project members emerged around migration, evolution, species diversity, the environment, nature, clay and the process of creating.

They made bird shapes from memory in clay. These represent the countries from which they have travelled and their journeys of hope.

Accompanying the sculptures and drawings is a video by filmmaker Andy Dunn. The work shows a starling murmuration alongside the process of making a bird from clay.

The Grounding Project

The Grounding Project is a specialist service in Kennington for refugees and asylum seekers who have overcome adversity and are recovering from trauma. It is funded by SLaM (South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust).

Julie proposed to teach ‘birdcraft’ with its members, to develop an installation concept, and explore the theme of migration, drawing parallels with the birds created and the journeys of the group. The results were exhibited at Lewisham Arthouse in 2019 with an installation of 200 ceramic birds.

Julie has studied the birds created, and subsequent workshops at the Victoria and Albert Museum, during Refugee Week, to produce a set of drawings which record the project with numerous marks on paper that make up each image.

Julie Nelson

Julie Nelson is a British ceramicist who uses the materiality of clay as a means to explore the natural world. Her work focuses on the elemental and she crafts in a series, often exhibiting objects in groups that both contrast and interrelate. Her collections, based on biology, botany and landscape, express the visual regularities found across nature, exploring pattern and entropy, whilst highlighting the connectedness of everything.

Find more information about Julie’s work.

Hear from Julie Nelson on Bloomberg Connects.


'No animal is more mythic or rich in symbolic or cultural associations than the humble bird. Important in every culture, birds speak of freedom and flight, migration and longing, independence and togetherness.'
Julie Nelson