24 July 2014
|Pete's many circular objects, to inspire our circular design|
The first session of any project is always a step into the unknown, no matter how much prep you've done. Today was even more unknown for me because not only was I working with a new group of participants, the Smartarts group in Blackpool, I was teamed up with a new art partner too, the artist Pete Flowers. Together, Pete and I will facilitate this group in an ambitious new piece.
Pete started the ball rolling by inviting folks to each sketch a symbol of themselves, quickly and spontaneously, an image held within a hand. As the group worked I went from person to person, asking them to explain the thinking behind their pieces. I jotted down the explanations, which became a poignant little textwork in itself. I read it back and we all looked at each other, looked at the artworks. Not a bad start. In fact, say it quietly, very promising...
31 July 2014
This is the second week we've worked together and our group is slowly starting to become familiar to Pete and myself (the facilitators) and one another. People shared paper, responding to the circular objects Pete had selected for them to draw - and responding to each other as well. Making creative pieces can be a wonderfully calming process, several people in the group commented on the therapeutic feeling that has been conjured up in the space as people busy on drawings or poems. It was a delight to walk among the makers and share some of that fabulous busy calm.
But there is a flipside, as one person pointed out. With creativity comes exposure, the possibility of getting it wrong, of harsh judgement. Today, as the group started to relax with each other, some deep-seated habits began to emerge, among them cruel self-criticism. We're trying to develop an atmosphere in these sessions that is both non-judgemental AND gently challenging. It's a sort of zen tightrope between control and looseness. Great musicians "play" music with absolute control and yet lightly. Perhaps we too can enter that state, as a group, to bring back something that is playful and meaningful too - eternity, connection, peace, continuity, fullness - playful, but serious play.