Today I got to work with the group I worked with last Friday, and it was great to catch up with people I already knew a sense. I always knew I was shy, and seeing familiar faces when you’re a newbie can be incredibly comforting!
It was great to see the group remembered what they’d done last week, and how that meant they could develop things they’d explored. The characters of policeman, fireman, princess, and ghost remained, and we began to translate them onto a piece of muslin that would be turned into a curtain that you had to pass to enter the art room. Some participants stuck to the materials they’d used previously, whereas others were happy to experiment. Mixed media was encouraged, and two of the participants worked together to create work using glitter, paint, pens, gems and silk paints. The combination created beautiful effects, especially when the silk paint wash blurred the pen marks together to create a marbled effect.
I felt I was finding good facilitation style that supports someone’s creativity without taking over their creative control. I kept to discussing someone’s work and taking off fiddly lids or caps, without making any marks on their work. I remember an assistant teacher drawing on a picture I was creating in Year 2, and I have never felt such indignant rage. How dare she!!!!! So a rule of my practice has always been to leave people’s work with them.
A real sense of ownership developed with one of the participants who was working on a policeman character. He began writing his name on his work, and grew very attached to a lego policeman character. One of the support workers suggested that he take him to a police museum, where this investigation into police officers could continue. It’s lovely to see the sustained enthusiasm in this topic. It made me wonder whether for some participants it would be richer to facilitate individual projects that could be developed across different classes and activities. The gain of this may be greater sense of creative control and artistic expression, but a potential risk is a reduction in social integration across a group. Art is a useful tool on a personal and social level, and I have experienced myself the positive effects of creativity giving me the self-confidence to fit into a group, make new friends and find new communities that shared my interests. However, who’s to say that an individual project wouldn’t increase self-confidence with similar results?
Lunchtime was an good opportunity to chat with a number of arts tutors from Sense. In particular John Reid’s recent experiences in Holland studying at master level was fascinating. We discussed the nature of a person’s sense of identity and where it comes from. Often it is through others that we build that identity, a fact that can be used to great advantage or great harm when working with people with disabilities. I also discussed with the music teacher how useful an outside pair of eyes can be, and how my reflections can be used to aid the learning of the tutors as well as my own learning. I have found this open attitude all over Sense; people are very encouraging of outside criticism and a fresh perspective. This feel really healthy to me, and is probably why the arts provision has remained innovative and contemporary.