Monday, 30 September 2013

planning and improvisation

I always enjoy the planning for arthur+martha workshops, we aren't tied to a syllabus, but are directed by the project brief, and free to follow our current interests and most importantly the needs and desires of the participants. Any plan needs plenty of space for improvisation, to suit the needs of individuals taking part. Sometimes we go in with a plan that we are sure will work- that falls flat, others where just one element takes up the whole session. It feels at times like juggling jelly. What follows is part of an email correspondence, discussing the plan for the making memories session, the morning spent at the Hindu Temple with older people, the afternoon at Respite for people with dementia.

"I'm not finding it so straightforward planning for these new venues, anyhow, I did some sampling of a new technique yesterday, its called Nuno felt It's the first time I have done this particular technique- although I've lots of experience of regular feltmaking, so it wasnt to much of a stretch. The reason I wanted to try it was that its all about colour, patterning and you can use saris as the background fabric,  which i thought opened all sorts of possibilities.

My nuno felt samples being washed

Working with the Indian Association is taking me on a different direction than the way we have worked so far with this project, being inspired equally by their stories, and the visual impact of the materials and colours of the community .

The process of making the felt is very satisfying as its about colour play, it's also such a physical task, and can be worked by a group, giving it a really social feel. Then there is the link with the saris. I propose we invite participants to make either a large piece together (they can always be cut it up after) or a series of individual pieces. To tie it back to the theme of Making Memories, High Days and Holidays, I suggest the felt work is inspired by our discussion,  and note down their responses to the following starting points that could be used for something poetic:

* describe the colours, texture, patterns of memorable sari you wore for an important event (a first festival, dance, wedding, funeral...) 
* what are the words for the colours in Hindu? Sandscript? which language describes the colours more eloquently?
* how did it make you feel to wear it?
* what are the preparations for getting dressed for a big event such as the one you describe?
* describe the event you wore the sari to in terms of smell, taste, colour, sounds
* what happened to the sari ?

How does that sound to you?

Nuno felt being made with sari's and wool tops
rolling the nuno felt

What about the men?  it would be great to hear about their ideas about getting dressed up, as the men are pretty flash to in traditional dress!

In the afternoon, we could carry on with the theme of getting dressed to go out. It might be challenging for some participants to think about one specific outfit,  but we could think about getting ready to go dancing. I could drum up some photos and a couple of books.
What about a poetic exercise based on dance steps:  Foxtrot  SQQ,  or SSQQ,  6 count Swing, Waltz with 3/4 time signature- counted in 1-2-3 with heavy accent on the 1. I will bring my drawing stuff as well, so that participants can do some drawings of their togs for dancing if they choose.

How does that sound to you?

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