Sing it Loud!

This morning our sculpture sessions turened into a full-bellied sing-song. It was glorious. We covered the Beatles, the carpenters, ABBA (a Sense favourite it seems to me), Rod Stewart and Icona Pop. Once again I wondered if Sense had a choir and if not, why not? There are obviously a lot of enthusiastic and talented singers around. I was also tempted  to suggest that I and some students from CPP created an ABBA tribute band that could do a christmas gig at Sense . . . with plenty of audience participation of course!

I was working with a very talented participant today, whose practice/style I’ve watched develop over the short time I’ve been at Sense. Today we were working on the coloured paper bottles again, and I was met with a dilema. The bottles were supposed to be lightly covered with the paper, with a smooth surface so that the light can pass through. However, this particular participant has a very strong personal style that is anything BUT smooth or light. She loves mess with lots of chaotic colour and movement … doing things neatly is not her natural method. By reminding her to keep things smooth, or only allowing her one strip of paper at a time was I allowing her artistic skills to develop, or just crushing her enthusiasm and natural style?

Chatting with people after the session, I felt that the important difference between challenging someone and discouraging them is the whether or not you ‘tell them off’ for a particular style. If I were to turn around and say that this participant’s chaotic style was wrong, and make her feel like she had done something bad by expressing her creativity, I would be discouraging and oppressing. However, by suggesting other ways of working that aren’t her first instinct I can help her skills develop in the same way my methods and skills are challenged and stretched on my degree course. This feels like a really grounding conclusion to have reached, and although I’m sure it will change with time it gives me a confident framework to work within.

This realisation made me question what the aim of the arts sessions are at Sense. Are these sessions ‘lessons’ or ‘classes’, ‘teaching’ people skills? Is the aim to educate? Is the aim to be theraputic? Are they designed to entertain, or just a way to keep service users occupied and give the support workers break? When an arts organisation is placed within a health and social care framework, what is it’s role? Who decides? Despite much though i am still conflicted over the answers to these questions, or whether there are any answers at all. However, when I begin to develop my facilitation practice I think it is important for me to have a clear aim/s in mind to create my plans around.

In the afternoon many of the participants remembered the techniques from last week and worked with furious focus and productivity. The bottles drying along the side of the art room multiplied dramatically! It ws great to see people enjoying their tasks so much, and I observed the all-engulfing flow that I can often get into when working on a project. It’s a great place to be in. It reassured me that the activities we were doing allowed the participants to take ownership over what they were doing rather than just doing it because they were told. I learnt some more sign as well, meaning my vocabulary is increasing …. slowly, but still increasing.

Tomorrow I begin with my first ever drama class at Sense – I’m VERY excited! However I will sorely miss working within the visual arts team. I hope I’ll be able to pop back in to see how things are going and track the progress of the different groups.

Enjoy chaps …

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