The artist Tabitha Moses has been working with us on the Four Acre project, giving us invaluable help and now this informative feedback...
I suppose I got in touch with arthur+martha because I've had a growing feeling that running creative workshops hasn't been as fulfilling or profound as it could be - for all concerned. Sometimes, not always, it seems that participants have a pretty superficial experience, just coming along and making something crafty pretty quickly, not much one-to-one interaction, following instructions, not engaging very deeply with the creative process. Of course it's not compulsory that they have an epiphany but there is such potential to open up internal vistas through exploring and challenging yourself…
I've noticed the benefits of working as a pair – there is someone to bounce ideas around with, to discuss how the project is going, share the workload, bringing individual strengths to the workshops (Phil's words/poetry and Lois's design/visual skills), developing the projects through conversation.
Other things I've noticed…
- It's important to let people use their own voice in the words and visuals – handwriting, drawing, spoken words
- People have the choice of words or visuals, they can engage initially in the most comfortable way
- Very simple 'art' techniques that don't scare people away. I love how the handwriting is transformed into something permanent by embroidery or transfer onto crockery
- Questions and topics of conversation are universal and open to interpretation. People can respond as lightly or as deeply as they wish
- Longer term projects allow greater depth, exploration, relationships to develop
- The one-to-ones are new to me. Important for reaching deeper places, thoughts, ideas, memories
- The blog is a vital part of arthur+martha. It acts as a record of events, a place for reflection, an advertising tool, a virtual gallery, somewhere the participants can direct friends and family to.
Phil mentioned that it was important for him to allow his own practice to inform the workshops. I've found this rather difficult in the past, thinking of my practice as being composed of the visual and making parts only. However I now realise how heavily I draw on people's accounts, stories, reminiscences for my subject matter. This can definitely be brought into future workshops.
|Tabitha and Mr Clarke|
It was a real privilege to sit in on the session with Mr and Mrs Clarke, all those memories, stories, people, places. We had a right old laugh. Important to pass on the knowledge too. I don't know how housebound Mr and Mrs C are but they seemed to enjoy the company and the chance to reminisce. Keeps the brain ticking over. I liked how they were encouraged to look at their stories in an unorthodox way, cutting up sentences and making poetry.
So, thank you Lois and Phil. You're doing a great and inspiring job.