Part of the circle of mentoring which I am developing includes being part of a peer network and providing educational experiences. I strongly believe either having a creative education or at least including aspects of creative thinking, making and exploring in education is essential to an all rounded experience.
I enjoy teaching and with that enabling people to either do things they were previously unable to do or open up new possibilities and experiences for them – this can enjoyable and challenging and the results fascinating and unexpected.
I have been involved in quite a few workshops recently – for example for youth groups, a primary school and informal adult classes.
In one of these I got the opportunity to work with the artist and writer Janie Verburg to deliver a series of workshops to a small group of young folk. They had, with our help, developed a proposal which received funding from the Highland Youth Arts Hub – part of the National Youth Arts Strategy to encourage young people to get involved with creative activity.
We were keen to work with them in taking the group through the creative process – inspiration/research/development/editing. We had a proposed outcome of a series of postcards which had a visual art element and a creative writing element, and the initial inspiration of a familiar walk developed. In discussion with the group, a more collaborative approach to the walk came about and in the end became something we did together; each taking individual inspiration from a collective experience.
Janie and I felt it right to go through the process too, to participate fully with the group – a kind of vulnerability which helped us consider how the participants felt. It also served in reminding ourselves how we approach this kind of making, what our creative process is. Each artist has their own way and making processes, so it was more a case of saying: this is one way to do it, try it and make it your own.
Leading a workshop with another artist was a particularly useful exercise and something I’d do again. The benefits of the conversations around the planning and during the workshops were more than expected – although you are teaching or facilitating, quite often it becomes a two way thing where you are gaining just as much as the participants.
I’ll finish up this project this week by working one-to-one with one of the participants in editing and getting the work print ready. We have an opportunity to launch the work next month at another event – bringing another dimension to what started as a small proposal and has become a lovely project to work through.