Today I was able to split my morning and spend the first half in art and the second in drama. In art, we were investigating leaves using a variety of medias including clay, paper, paint, pastels, pencils and pens. During the session a new technique was developed through the exploration, where a leaf was painted, sandwiched between to pieces of paper an put through the print press. The results were magnificently detailed leaf paint-prints as well as a leaf indent left on the other piece of paper. The participants who did the prints were really proud of their work and I enjoyed seeing this connection and investment in the work. As with yesterday I was reassured that people weren’t just doing tasks because they had been told to, but because they were invested in the work.
My thoughts about stretching people’s arts skill/practice from yesterday occurred to me during the session. Whilst working with one participant on their clay sculpture, I began suggesting different tools that could be used to make textures and impressions in the clay. I felt this widened what this particular participant could do with the media, despite his natural instinct to be working with just his hands.
At 11 I trotted down the stairs to drama. There was a big group, most of whom I’d never met before. We started the session by passing a squeeze around the circle, then moving into other touch based exercises in pairs. These included exploring the room by touch and following different members of the group by placing a hand on their backs.
At one point I ended up pushing someone’s wheelchair around the room, and this made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I had never met this person before, and suddenly I was grabbing their wheelchair at moving them around the room at my will. The participant in question had quite strong communication barriers, so I wasn’t confident that if she wasn’t happy with the situation that she would be able to tell me. I have had wheelchair politics in the back of my mind since an event I experienced at Brownies (click here if you don’t know what Brownies are!)
The event in question happened when my guide group went for a walk around our village. One Brownie was a wheelchair user, and was struggling slightly as the pavements were very narrow. One of the leaders, assuming that as an able-bodied person she could work wheelchairs better, grabbed the ‘joystick’ control of the wheel chair and attempted to control it. Not only was the leader rubbish at controlling this wheelchair, resulting in both wheelchair and Brownie swerving into the road on more than one occasion, but it was a real invasion of independence. It was frustrating as, due to cerebral palsy, the Brownie in question struggled to communicate to the leader to stop. As a result I am always nervous of encroaching on people by touching or moving their wheelchairs. However, every wheelchair user will see things in a different way and may be totally happy for me to push them around. It’s something I’d like to delve deeper into.