Friday was the research conference at the Birmingham City University. I have to admit to being a little bit (very) nervous. They’d billed the conference as a safe place for unsafe things to happen and I’d taken then at their word and invented a workshop which I was totally unsure would ‘work’.
Anyway, it did!!!
The premise of the workshop was that the participants considered their own domestic and creative lives and how they interacted or disrupted one another. They were to translate these thoughts onto a wet clay tile in any format they chose. A drawing, a list, a pattern….anything. Periodically I would introduce a disruption to the flow of work by imposing tasks which had to be completed. Pairing socks or wrapping presents.
This is a big ask! Thankfully the participants were researchers, academics and, most importantly, open minded creatives. They got it! Each and every one was totally generous in sharing their experiences.
Now I have the seemingly enormous task of figuring out what to do with all the information I have acquired. I am starting with a table of evidence. I am describing all the tiles made and trawling through the recording of the session to pick up the conversations I missed whilst I was facilitating. It’s going to take all week.
I also need to make a document which I can refer to next time I roll out this workshop. Things to remember and better practices.
Next I will photograph all the pieces, dry them and fire. The original idea was that there would be a creative outcome (an artwork) from the workshop. A scarf made from ceramic tiles….because everyone needs one of those….??
Some decisions need to be made about decoration. I am resistant to glazing. It is inelegant and distracting, however, aesthetically it will make the scarf into a better final piece. I’m going to have to figure this out.
I have just endured the video and audio recording of the entire hour. This meant listening mostly to myself, and we all know how that feels! It was a very useful tool for remembering what each person said as the conversation developed. It was also useful to see the reactions to the disruptions I provided. A frustrated, ‘Aghhhhh’, from one participant as I made her put the clay down in order to wrap some oddly shaped christmas gifts.
I have also photographed all the tiles from Friday. It’s the first time I’ve looked properly since I left Birmingham. I’ve remembered other bits of conversation, all of which I’m frantically writing down as accurately as I can remember. I’m anticipating the preparation, overspill and analysis from this one short workshop to take a week. This has gone from being a short ‘practice into something utterly valuable and potentially beautiful.