Friday, 17 May 2013

End of Start

I've been thinking about what to plan for my own workshop, however my own mental health means that I feel unable to actually deliver it to a group. If I were to present it to a group I decided I'd like to do a comics workshop as I thought it can be simple and relatable as most people will have a read a comic strip at some point. It also relates to my own practice of illustration.

Having finished my six weeks at Start I really feel like I wish I could redo the placement again when I was feeling more stable. I have not performed half as well as I would have wanted or planned and I feel it has been an unfortunate waste of an opportunity by coming along at a time when I was having a relapse of OCD and depression. However, I would still like to give teaching another go at some point in the future, probably in a school.

I have also recently applied to other voluntary positions including signing up for training to work on the Rape Crisis helplines (after completing a training course).

Sunday, 12 May 2013

100 Deeds

100 Deeds is a Manchester based organisation seeking to "reclaim feminism" by using deeds not words to mark 100 years since suffragist Emily Davidson was killed under the king's horse at the Epsom Derby. The project asks people to submit either projects, gestures, events or art pieces that remember early first wave feminists and bring feminism into contemporary awareness.

We started a feminist society at MMU (apparently the first one to ever exist and the only current political society!) and got involved in the Reclaim the Night protests against sexual violence and street harassment. We made a huge banner (above), loads of placards and a painted mannequin. In summer we are also getting involved with designing and builiding MMU's first ever float on the Manchester Pride parade.

We have also started a female fronted clubnight featuring women DJs and women in bands. I started this night in Sheffield before I left for university but had been wanting to resurrect it for months! We are also planning on running a couple of DJ workshops to teach new skills that can be taken away and applied elsewhere and ensure that anyone who wants to have a DJ slot can do. All money from the event will go to either the Manchester Rape Crisis Centre or HOPE Sheffield, a charity that works with women who have experienced trafficking or domestic violence.

We also recently attended Lynn Setterington's 100 Deeds workshop and added our embroidered signatures to the 100 she is attempting to collect to turn into a large scale art piece.

All the pieces that have been submitted to the 100 Deeds project will be displayed at a free exhibition at the People's History Museum over summer.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Start in Salford

Start in Salford is an arts centre providing workshops and support for people with mental health difficulties and people facing social exclusion.

I have been working with the Visual Arts - Arts on Prescription groups that run on a Tuesday. Arts on Prescription is a group for adults who have been referred by their GPs to help with milder mental health problems. It helps provide relief in giving the members a sense of achievement in completing a project and pride in learning a new skill whilst also providing opportunities to make new friends and gain support from others facing similar issues in their lives.

I'm interested in working with mental health for a number of reasons. I have experienced mental health myself so feel I can relate to the members using the centre. I also understand how isolating it can feel. I am also interested in other ways to alleviate and improve mental health issues, particularly holistic approaches. I am also interested in wellness through mindfulness. I also believe in the importance of self care, community and creativity.

Most of the members have been quietly getting on with longer term projects as opposed to have a different task set each session. The members are also free to pursue any kind of visual art they want, so the members are doing everything from glass painting, mosaic, sculpture, painting and drawing.

Whilst many of the members are very neat and restrained in their work, many are very bold and experimental, such as one woman I worked with who is incredibly confident in her work and uses many different colours and textures.

There is one member I have worked with individually over several sessions as he seemed to be more wanting of assistance than the other members and we got on fairly well. He at first seemed incredibly nervous and unsure of what he was doing but seemed to feel more confident after talking about his work and seeking help with it. He has now almost completed his piece and is visibly much more confident.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Unit X Fourth Week Summary

So far on Unit X we've encountered diverse workshops from lots of different organisations, explored various materials and approaches for engagement e.g. sewing, plastic bags, drawing, narrative, building, origami, sweet building, recycling.
We have also dealt with both working individually or in a group.I mostly find working individually easier than in a group but often get stuck in a rut / think myself to death. Group work can be useful in breaking this cycle or problem. I realise group work can be very useful in producing lots of ideas in a short space of time and combining ideas together. It also creates a more objective approach. I think this mostly depends on the people I am working with and the project or type of project I am working on. 
I have also been thinking about how I could use my own practice in planning and providing workshops, for example by utilizing drawing and storytelling. The materials for this would be fairly simple such as just pens, pencils and paper but could also involve markmaking with other implements such as charcoal, paint or ink. I have also been thinking about possibly running a basic comic strip workshop as it would be fairly simple to teach and I feel it could be highly engaging.

Friday, 26 April 2013


I am interested in possibly working with DACA because my plan for the last few years has to train to become an art teacher after university.  
I mostly want to work in a Further Education college but would also love to work in a secondary school or sixth form.

DACA's art department seem incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of their students more than I've seen at any other school so I'd really love to be involved with working with them.

They have their own art gallery containing student and graduate work, named DART Gallery. This also now houses designed and illustrated products made by the students which teaches how to market, package and sell your work and also encourages entrepreneurial acytivity in the students as they receive all the profit if their product sells.

Even though I want to try working in a school I don't think I will choose a DACA placement during this module. Instead I'd like to push myself to try something new that I've not considered as much such as Start. I'm also trying to get a  placement at my old college and possibly getting one either there or at a second school next year.

Unit X Third Week

My girlfriend is a youth worker at the Joyce Leyland LGBT centre and so I spent one afternoon session observing the group that she helps to run. I worked for a while with one of the quieter members of the group which at first I found intimidating as I’m really shy myself, but once I got chatting it became easier. The Joyce Leyland centre has been open opposite MMUnion for around thirty years and is run mostly by part time staff and volunteers.I feel the work they do at the centre is of massive importance as it provides a safe space for the young people to express themselves, get support and make new friends. 

I also attended an afternoon of workshops Lynn ran on objects and their narratives. This was based in creative storytelling and thinking about the history, relevance and value of objects. I found this workshop very helpful as storytelling is something I'm not naturally good at but is very important to my own practice as an illustrator.


Unfortunately I missed the induction to the Start facilities because of a relapse of my own mental health issues but am aware that I’m going to be participating in the Visual Arts sessions and have made plans for ways to get around the issues I had with getting to the venue for next week.
I also reclaimed and started using my studio space within the main Interactive Arts studio to catch up with my individual practice this week. I have decided to have a break from doing illustration which I was beginning to find frustrating and unenjoyable and have instead decided to experiment with costume design.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Unit X Second Week

The week began with Kirsteen’s workshop where we worked in groups and came up with preliminary ideas for workshops we could run for potential clients. We started the session by discussing in our groups what each of us would potentially like to base a workshop on and which groups of people we would like to cater our workshops for. I told the group that I'd been thinking about working in mental health for a while, I've also been wanting to do some work with women, for example at shelters or volunteering at a Rape Crisis centre. I am also interested in holistic approaches to care. I feel I would be good in these roles as I have personal, first-hand experience of these issues so could empathise with the women and people suffering mental ill health.

After this discussion we were then given a selection of images without any explanation to them and asked to produce ideas for a workshop based on these images. This was designed to force us to think laterally and in new ways about how workshops can be run and what they can achieve.