As we have watched our Finnish and Norwegian colleagues prepare and deliver their first art workshops, in Scotland we too have been busy getting everything ready. Myself, Ravi Kohli – and our newest team member, Glasgow based art therapist Kim Coutts – have been adapting the original workshop design so expertly structured by Art Refuge, for an online encounter.
Fundamental to our conversations has been our hand-in-hand commitment to ensuring that the methods applied in this context still create space for comparative analysis longer-term, and that we create an experience for our research participants that is caring, considered and ultimately enjoyable. There have been many intricate adaptations as we have discussed and rehearsed what is now a 3-hour workshop online, but there are four core ideas I’d like to draw attention to:
Elevating the experience: Creating individual creative packs containing a range of art materials for the workshop and that can be used beyond the experience. Plus some tasty snacks to allow us to share food together as part of the experience;
Ensuring intimacy and trust: In order to allow each participant the time and space to share during the workshop, we have moved from planning to deliver one session with one large group to bringing together 3 smaller groups working online, in an attempt to still build an intimate space;
Maintaining fundamentals: Whilst the length of the workshop has been reduced from 6 to 3 hours, we have worked to retain all key elements of the original workshop design;
Co-producing documentation: As we are unable to document the project how we had planned we will instead be inviting participants – where they can – to photograph their making process during the workshop with their phones.
In addition to this, the development of our creative research packs have allowed me to meet almost all out participants in-person, which has been a delight. Fleeting, Covid-safe drop offs have been organised with each person that was local enough to me not to break any rules, and it has been joyful getting this chance. I’m hoping that this face-to-face contact will operate as a little spark to take us into the digital world, a way of making the online encounter just a little less daunting for each participant – and for me too.