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Thinking Differently - Fliss O'Neill (part 2)

30th January 2020

Fliss blogs about her second week of 'Thinking Differently' at Westfield School, in our project with University of Worcester and House of Imagination, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

a decorative page of notes - keywords from week 1"Week two was a bit of a longer session; everyone had the chance to ‘show and tell’ about the objects they’d brought in… and no one had forgotten. Most people were happy to take part, one or two needed encouragement to talk to the group, and everyone used the school camera to take photos of their objects. There were some hilarious interactions: one boy got into character with his Batman and kept churning out quotes. I’d had him earmarked as serious last week- so this activity enabled us to see a very different side to his personality!

On reflection, I think I could have started the project a little differently. Shaz, the Teaching Assistant, suggested during our feedback session, that a little group warmup to get everyone more relaxed and opening up prior to the activity would have been helpful, and I agree. This reflection will help me to be better prepared for next time. We had moved the furniture around to create a big circle of tables and that worked well, so we’ll continue with that layout for these sessions. I think that this kind of layout makes things more inclusive.

After the ‘Who are we?’ session, we responded to one of the artists from my provocation sheet, Cindy Sherman, and had fun dressing up our faces, putting on disguises, looking through picture frames and taking photographs of one another! This activity was the perfect complement to the previous one and allowed us all to have a laugh together and connect in a very different way. We now have some very funny pictures that we can use in some artwork based on self-portraits, along with pictures of the objects and some cardboard picture frames. Next week we will try and figure out how we might use these elements and what other materials we might like to explore to make an ‘Image of me’.

In the last 5 minutes of the lesson, I brought out a suitcase of toys that had belonged to my boys when they were young, the Ninja Turtles included: this went down really well and everyone had a root about to find figures that interested them… I will bring it in for the end of lessons until the novelty wears off!"

Fliss O'Neill is a Meadow Arts Creative Practitioner and freelance artist.