In weeks 6-10 we continued to journey through our weather theme. Sure enough the outdoors continued to reflect what was happening indoors! This included rain, sunshine (which everyone had been waiting for!) and rainbows. In each session we focussed on sensation and colour. Sheila especially loved the coloured fabrics and feathers and had taken-on the role of chief sorter! She took much delight in taking all of the items out of the basket, arranging them in beautiful ways and tidying them up again, every so often pausing to admire or wear them. ‘Oo, that is lovely!’.
Stories were created and embellished-on every week through a shared interest in holidays, the seaside and beach. Together we were taken away to tropical islands, deep sea, Egypt, Blackpool and the Caribbean. There was lots of interest in a beautiful book about the sea – Simon and Robert put this inspiration into their vibrant drawings with coloured and layered water pastels. As Milena offered them some brushes with water to add, they elaborated on their own emerging paintings with intention and flair.
Each week Stephen led us through an energising Tai Chi sequence which he had choreographed with beautiful imagery of things in nature including sunshine, trees, leaves, birds, and a volcano. This developed each week and became our warm-up and signal to begin.
Week 7 was a highlight as we all managed to get outside in the glorious sunshine. As we were warmed and awakened by the sun, we filled the garden with colourful dances and scarves of summer colours. We took advantage of the bright rays and created some photographs with light-sensitive paper and shadow dances on a white sheet. Andrew was very drawn-in to all of this and created some wonderfully intricate patterns and movements. ‘That’s really interesting, I’ve never done that before’. Meanwhile the summer excitement was spreading throughout the garden with Karen leading a spontaneous conga to the carnival music with everyone finding it hard to resist!
In contrast, we embraced the dark on our rain and rainbow weeks and explored some movement and making indoors with coloured lights, torches, and the magic brolly! Robert moved the torch calmly onto the shimmering rainbow and we all jumped-in, looking for the treasure at the end!
One of my favourite moments of the 10 weeks was when Denise, who had declared that she just wanted to watch, jumped-up after being invited to join the dance and shouting with gumption across the circle, ‘Watch this!’
For the final celebration session we all had the pleasant surprise of being joined by some adults from another setting. This had different effects on different members of the group – some felt slightly more shy than usual and others such as John were excited to see new friends – he whopped, smiled and clapped throughout and this was infectious! We opened-out the circle, put the music on and got dancing and soon everyone was in a celebratory spirit. We finished with a presentation of some beautiful photo books which Milena had made, and importantly- cake!
This has been my first project with Artlink and there have been more special and tender moments than I can remember or put into words. Every week Milena and I were greeted with warmth and excitement by the participants and staff and sometimes it felt as though they were waiting for us to arrive! Every one of the participants added something so unique to the sessions which we could see was embraced by the group; what had before been a fleeting sound or gesture in the background was now part of a dance, game, or painting. Many of these people have known one another for a long, long time and yet we could see that they were learning new things about one another and communicating more through being together, exchanging ideas and sharing the creative space. It was a joy to be there.
By Kim, photos taken by Mat Dale.