Working with who you are

We’re working with a school in Port Talbot on Mondays for the next four weeks to improve their creative skills. Expression and creativity is a massive part of the school curriculum which helps young people develop who they are, and better explain how they see the world. Rather than imposing our ideas, or a framework for creative learning, on our participants we’re including their ideas and adaptations from the get go. We’re working with who they are and what interests them so that we can help them to take their skills into an area that suits them.

We’re very lucky that our participants are able to work with us on a one to one basis. This means that we can tailor make what they need very quickly. They have already said that their influences include Pablo Picasso, music from the 1950s and 1960s, Andy Warhol, and graffiti. These teens really have a diverse and interesting palette and it’sreally exciting for us to see what they’re creating. Some of the photographs our participants are taking will help them to enhance their GCSE portfolios. If this is week 1 I can’t wait to see what they’ll produce next week!

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Spiral Treasures

Ever wondered what’s inside a snail shell? During the damp night the snail comes out to play, but what hidden treasure could these shells hold?

I’m reworking the insides of found snail shells and imagining what fantasies could be within. Each shell is returned to the place where I found it and photographed. I’m unsure at the moment if I should leave my spiral treasures in their natural habitat where snail colonies can reconnect with their lost relatives. Or perhaps I could leave them in a place to be found by humans so that others have the chance to connect with my art and keep a little treasure of their own.

The photographs have a potential all of their own. I’m considering framed prints but I would want each print to be unique; just as each Spiral Treasure is unique.

Now Showing in Canberra!

I’ve been really slack lately in updating you about my own art practice. I’ve been so busy promoting the great work of the organisations I’ve been doing workshops with I completely forgot to mention what I’m up to. It’s hard to remember to blow your own trumpet sometimes when there’s such a beautiful orchestra of people out there making their own music.

I’m currently in a show which opened last night in Canberra, Australia. Twitter Art Exhibit 2018 is being held in Strathnairn Arts Gallery and is curated by Kylie Fogarty. Postcard sized artworks are donated by global artists with 100% of the proceeds going to a local charity. This year it’s the turn of Pegasus Riding for the Disabled to benefit from the sale. In 2016-2017 Pegasus delivered more than 2600 riding sessions for people with a disability in the Canberra region. Twitter Art Exhibit is now in its 8th year and is getting bigger every year. Last year the exhibition was held in Stratford Upon Avon and raised more than £24000 for a charity in the UK so I’m really hopeful that Pegasus will benefit massively from the generosity of all involved in this year’s exhibition.

I can’t remember for the life of me what I entered for this show because I mailed it so long ago. Sometimes it’s nice to forget because it’s a nice surprise to discover my art in the photographs have been taken at the gallery. I love looking through the thousands of pictures that other artists have donated. With the artworks being so small it’s interesting to see what other people have done with the restricted parameters. There’s some amazing talent on show at Twitter Art Exhibit. Once they’re sold, they’re gone so if you’re in the area it’s worth seeing sooner rather than later. The exhibition runs until 29th April but don’t worry if you’re not in Australia. This is the Twitter Art Exhibit so you can follow the exhibition on Twitter HERE, and on Facebook HERE  and via their website HERE.  If you see my art then please let me know!

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Ambassadors of Autism

A while back now I delivered a project called Animated ASDES. Here we worked with autistic clients get their voice across to employers. They explained skills that employers should learn to help them deal better with their autistic employees. We empowered participants to say what needed to be said and created a short film about what we’d found.

So what is empowerment then? Lots of people mistakenly think it’s giving people a voice and giving them the power to do the things they want to do. I disagree. You already have the voice and nobody gives you the power. To empower someone means showing them the seed that has the potential to grow inside of them and then giving them to tools to cultivate it for themselves.

So when Bay TV in Swansea asked me to do a short interview about the project and talk about ASDES, autism, and the project I hesitated. What’s the point in empowering someone and helping them to grow their own confidence if you’re then going to talk to the media on their behalf. Nope. That’s not how I roll. Instead I felt that the interview should be with one of the participants. Their voice should be heard, not mine. I’ll take a back seat on this one thank you very much.

Today then, Rhys Lewis and I went over to the TV studios in Swansea where Rhys has been interviewed about his experiences by the lovely Rachel Hopkins.  Rhys voiced his ideas about what it is like to live with autism and how ASDES supports those with autism in getting into the workplace. He was articulate, well reasoned, and came across as a complete pro. It’s time to forget every stereotype, and throw away anything you think you know. Rhys tells it like it is.

You can see his interview TONIGHT on Bay TV [Freeview 8 and VIrgin 159]
The film Animated ASDES will be launched on May 11th at the Autism Awareness Day in Tapestri, Swansea. Contact ASDES for more information on this event via their website HERE.
If you’re interested in knowing more about autism then Rhys tells me it’s also worth watching Are you Autistic? which airs on Channel 4 tonight at 10pm.

More on the Animated ASDES project is HERE.

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Thinking Positivity

We’ve been Creatively Employable over at Melyn Community Centre again today. For our last workshop we’ve given our group freedom to express themselves and present themselves to the group.  Standing up and explaining what your pictures are about and how you found positivity out on the streets of Neath is now second nature to all our participants.

Finding a different perspective on the way you see life is what it’s all about. Realising that success is a state of mind is the key to tackling the world. Our participants are more confident in the way they approach and talk to strangers as well as working with each other to tackle what they find.

More and more employers are looking for people who can think outside of the box. Awareness, mindfulness, positive thinking, and creativity, enhance any skills portfolio. Add in the ability to speak confidently to groups and explain the rationale behind ideas and interests and your skill set is on target for success. “Tell us about yourself” is now an interview question that our participants will relish in answering.

Tell us about yourself

This week at Creatively Employable we challenged participants to explain the things that make them feel confident and happy. We chatted about the body language of a confident person and how eye contact can help to get your ideas across in a positive and informative way.

Options  for creativity included drawing or photographs, but all our participants chose photography. On such a beautiful Spring day in Neath can you blame them? Being out in the sunshine with cameras gives an instant boost of well-being and confidence. The pictures they created showed individuality and imagination.

The brief was to give a 2 minute presentation on a theme of their choosing. Considering how to talk to the audience and communicate ideas about what you found was the ultimate goal. Our group should be really proud of their accomplishments today. Standing in front of a projector screen and communicating effectively to a group of strangers is no mean feat!

A Positive Environment

We’ve been getting Creatively Employable over in Neath again today. This time we’ve been challenging participants to photograph the local environment in a positive way. Our intrepid local explorers scoured every corner of the area and came back with evidence of what is working in Melyncryddan. There’s a massive community spirit here and it’s great to see what the place has to offer.

At the end of the session each pair of participants delivered their photographs as a presentation to the group. In only one minute they summed up everything they had found and what they gained from the experience that was positive.

Explaining choices and decisions and fielding questions and answers is a real skill, and this is not just applicable to employment situations. When you find yourself at home staring into your cuppa questioning what is going well in your life, thinking about the positive and using it to make good plans for the future is something we all need to do from time to time.