Earth Ovens Lizzy Bean is passionate about mud. She uses earth to build outdoor ovens and sculptures. In 2008, Lizzy won Arts Council funding to research and develop her work in this area and since then, she has worked on a range of projects with young people and adults in schools, community venues and environmental centres across the region. ‘Having worked as a chef and an artist, building an oven brings together everything that’s important to me,’ says Lizzy. I love working with groups to create something that unites people; a sculpture that’s both beautiful and useful; a process that is fun and connects us to the earth; and a place of beauty for meeting, learning and eating.’ Lizzy uses cob – a mixture of earth, clay and straw – traditionally used as a building material by cultures throughout history and the world. ‘I am inspired by our complex relationship with earth – from growing food, making pots and building houses to its part in our ancient landscape. It’s a grounding yet also very spiritual medium.’ The ingredients for cob can often be sourced on-site, making each project unique and self-sufficient. Lizzy has been impressed with the enthusiasm that inner-city children have shown for such a low-tech medium. ‘I’ve worked on countless art projects with schools and understand the benefits of working outdoors but I’ve been particularly moved by how much the children enjoy the tactile qualities of mud, and how they love heaving barrow-loads of earth around. They get so absorbed that at the end of the day, they don’t want to go home!’ The earth ovens are wood-fired and can be used to bake bread, pizza and to roast vegetables and other dishes.