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May – July 2022

Artist Sam Hallett took on his largest, and most ambitious project exploring moments of reflection.

During his time, Sam Hallett worked around the back of St Anne’s House on his clay structure, an interactive space to explore the concept of retreat. The large-scale work was an impressive sculpture that was built for a duration of time through heat and rain; the artist designed a bottle/chapel for groups and individuals to sit, sing, and meditate within for a moment of reflection.

St Anne’s Chapel that was once here, hundreds of years ago, is no more. There was this idea I had that I was somehow contributing to the preservation of the chapel, but it’s not here, so this work that I’d created also didn’t stick around.

– Sam Hallett, 2022

Over countless years, people from all traditions have taken ‘retreat’, gone into the wilderness or on pilgrimage, immersing themselves in reflective contemplation. Many times over recent years people have been forced to experience ‘retreat’. 

‘HIDEOUT/RETREAT’ is a habitable ‘cave-like’ structure built from Clay. An experimental project, the process itself becoming a meditative retreat for the individual or small group.  

Ceramics/Clay/Earth has a humbling quality, a realness and honesty yet is the most versatile of materials found everywhere, we wash our hands and faces in it (basins), eat off it (plates), shit in it (toilets) and live in it from brick houses to mud huts. 

The outcome

During the wettest parts of the year, Sam Hallett covered the chapel to protect it from the elements. On one rainy day in December, people in the building heard a thud, and the chapel was no longer. It had collapsed in due to a water log, and left behind a blueprint of clay bricks, which had been carefully crafted by the artist during the months prior. It was a sad moment for all who had watched the chapel grow, but for the artist amongst the sadness was a sense of cyclical fate. The original St Anne’s Chapel isn’t here anymore, why should this new one be?

Events and activities that happened

Ibstock donated the clay for the chapel, it arrived in the first phase of the build.

Through the months to come, Sam Hallett spend hours receptively sizing, and slipping the clay bricks to form the base of the structure.

Visitors dropped in during his time building the chapel, and could step inside to emerge themselves amongst the walls.

Hundreds of people showed up on St Anne’s Day to see, explore and hear about the popular artwork/structure.

The fall. The chapel collapsed around the winter holidays, and Sam’s repetitive pattern was broken, he was free from the challenge.


Elemental materials of wood, metal and clay – earth, water, fire, air and space, all influencing each other.

Through practicing predominantly in clay/ceramics, these form the premise of Sam’s work, broad yet specific, using a wide range of traditional methods to present brand-new and ancient ideas.  This is expressed in 2 areas;   

  •  Function Mcfunktion; teapots, cups and bowls – coat-hangers, ceramic fridge, stove, furniture and here in ‘Hide Out Retreat’  
  • Sculptural installations incorporating interactive space and form. 

 Sam Hallett uses hand, coil, slab, wheel work, extrusions and casting. All methods offer a means to express the liveliness, freshness, boldness and sensitivity of clay together with its alchemic processes during firing.