1. Creative activities can support social interactions. Meeting people and socialising can be one of the most important opportunities a project provides. The process of artmaking can have an openness that can hold a range of ideas and go in a number of directions. Making art together can provide an effective vehicle for communication and facilitate the sharing of ideas. When everyone’s contributions to the process are listened to and valued, the equitable nature of the artmaking can enable learning and unlearning.
Some examples of art-making supporting social interaction during our project included:
> Postcards were a recognisable device for dialogue
> Clay sculptures took on different forms influenced by and synthesising different people’s visions.
> Role play and playfulness supported laughter and conversation during week 4 and plates and artworks were passed around the table creating connections with people who were not sat next to each other
'I also definitely drew a plate that started out as spaghetti and ended up looking suspiciously like flowers’
> Our Rolling Stones activity supported physical and gestural interaction.
‘I enjoyed the random nature of the stones’ positions and how different the marks around each one were.’
'Rolling Stones! I enjoyed the physical interaction side of the activity, it felt like a mixture between a P.E class and an art class’
> ‘Planting’ the garden together in week 5 and replanting it in week 6 brought our artworks together and invited people to work together to make decisions about where they positioned things.
‘Nice that we collectively put things there to build the garden’
2. Provide choices but avoid it becoming overwhelming. Minimise materials and activities available at any one time by separating them spatially or durationally, for example, by placing materials on another table so people can go and collect them when ready rather than the table they are working on or start with one or two options and introduce others once people have finished.
3. Working alongside each other can support togetherness. Collaboration does not always mean working on the same piece of artwork and people need the freedom to choose how they participate and to work on their own ideas. Some people may not work on the same activities as other people and that’s okay. Make time to listen and consider how and when to provide gentle invitations to engage in different ways, as well as valuing everything that is made in the sessions and everyone’s contribution to the project.
> See the bracelet a participant made during the garden themed session in week 5.
‘I made this bracelet. I enjoyed it’
> See how one participant took part in the acetate portrait activity and continued to work on drawings of people throughout the project . In week 4 he drew some of his portraits on the tablecloth and finished the trim on it .
‘Elliot finished the line’
> He also extended a theme he brought to the gesture activity, in which he mimed playing a saxophone each week, by drawing a saxophone and planting it in the garden we were creating together
4. Tracing can be an effective tool to notice and pay close attention. Bringing in material from previous sessions with the materials to create traces allows people to reflect on their own and each other’s experiences and artwork and expand upon ideas explored to create new understandings to create motifs and connections.
> See how we traced drawings and photographs to support us to remember the exhibition we visited the previous week.
5. Reproducing images can value them and the contribution of those who created them. This may include copying by hand, tracing, printing or photocopying or a slide show of work made so far at the start of the session (we found many people enjoyed seeing their work on a large screen). This offers the chance to continue to build on a thread of practice and strengthen the understanding of an artwork or creative contribution.
> See how a diamond motif became a design on multiple items
6. Look for opportunities for people to lead. If you are leading a project, look out for ideas that are emerging that people could share and where you can support people to develop them into activities they can facilitate. The chance to lead a group in an activity can support people to develop skills and confidence and bring fresh ideas to the project. It can also give people with support needs the opportunity to teach skills they have acquired to those who usually support them. When activities are repeated they become familiar and can support people who have attended regularly to guide new members of the group.
> See Brighton CCA gallery assistants leading a session in response to Billie Zangewa’s exhibition.
> See participants from Grace Eyre teaching support staff how to make acetate portraits.
> See how the Rolling Stones activity developed over 3 weeks into an activity led by an MA student, Gallery Assistant, and a participant from Grace Eyre together.
(Week 1, week 2 & week 3)