- Develop as artists, increasing ownership of their work
- Recognise their abilities
- Increase decision-making
- Ask and answer questions
- Work in different spaces
- Visit cultural venues and reflect on those visits
- Represent the Moving On experience
These were the specific aims we set when sitting down to plan this project with Moving On’s steering group of adults with learning disabilities. Artlink Working Together is the name the group have given themselves – an apt title for a wonderful collection of people who were selected from different centres to be part of something new and who have bonded so well.
The first two sessions centred on group dynamics but also incorporated several of the aims above. Memories of previous years’ Get Started project overflowed as the group got to know one another – of making animations, being taken on a guided meditation and writing a poem about a monkey. Through icebreakers, the group found hobbies in common.
Then – ‘Seat belts on,’ one member said as we prepared to speedily introduce ourselves in a game of non-musical chairs.
After making pictures from our doodles – a fun but productive activity – individuals were given a question (e.g. What are you most proud of? What is the funniest thing that has happened to you?) to describe to a partner who responded in drawing or writing (or both) .
Records of these anecdotes were given back to participants who used them as basis for concrete poems the following session.
Some chose instead to be inspired by a walk into the garden, participants choosing their own way to approach the task. One member made a rubbing of a leaf and put his words inside.
Increased decision-making like this has been evident in the sessions. We’ve also had impromptu role play scenarios and normally chatty participants sketching quietly in response to discussion activities. Support workers tell us they have seen members’ confidence grow and some of them have acquired part time jobs or enrolled at college since the project started.
The first session was a few days before the general election and in July votes were taken for where we should go on our first trip. By August the venue had been decided. First there was a summer holiday to be had, artistically at least.
The warmth didn’t just come from the sun.
Friendships had solidified and compliments flew like butterflies as we played word games, drew on a giant sheet of paper in white crayon and washed it in inks, watching pictures emerge.
Participants wrote poems about summery objects and read their work.
We didn’t quite have time to print with the block letters we had created but put them in the box for another time.
All our senses were engaged in September as we took our first trip to the Science and Media Museum and wondered at the marvels on display. Five of the top experiences for the group were:
Manipulating sound and visuals by playing with sand.
Seeing the forest through the eyes of various creatures.
Watching projections of storm and snow patterns on the Supersenses massive globe.
Sawing a musical tune.
Getting lost in a mirror maze.
With sessions a month apart, it’s often hard for people to remember what we did in the previous workshop. Over the course of the project, reflection has been facilitated by looking over photographs of the previous session, interviewing one another with inflatable mics and fingering reminder objects. Eyes sparkle as people recognise pictures they have done or shyly smile as their written work is complimented. Comments like ‘I CAN do this’. ‘I’ve done well’ are common and participants often point out what they have done or offer to read out their writing (even when they have never done this before).
In the October session, partners’ questions and others’ memories helped provoke vivid recollections of the trip, which were depicted visually or in words. These were then presented back to the group in anticipation of the day when some of the group will present to public audiences.
Since then Rozi and I have been plotting with Milena and Georgie who run the LiLAC group about how to forge links between the two groups. Artlink Working Together should expect a surprise during the next session…
Becky and Rozi