News & Writing

Collaborative workshops.

July 22, 2022

Children at a workshop in Verbier

I have always explored the essential collaborative, democratic and therapeutic side to my practice through working alongside many people in widely different environments.

Over the years I have conducted workshops nationally and internationally.I have worked with writers, musicians, artists, the elderly, children and in a variety of environments including Care Homes, Schools, Hospitals and Mental health environments. Over the years I have gained so much from them. In the early 1990’s I worked in Mental Health, re settling severely mentally in adults into the community, in what was a drive in the UK to shut down the huge institutions at the time. I then became an Arts Co Ordinator and ran workshops with rural communities in East Anglia. As the years passed this developed alongside my work and I started to incorporate my cross sensory practice. This led to working alongside musicians in Hospitals, and schools in socially deprived areas. In the late 2000’s I received large grants to work with Orchestras.

A workshop with Children at the Verbier Festival in 2009

Here is a wonderful description of one particular workshop I did at the University of Oxford in 2012 by the writer Erin Soros.

If it weren’t for the length of our bodies and a few wrinkles and grey hairs, we could be mistaken for an absorbed bunch of kindergarten children, all of us sprawled on the floor, happily painting swirls of colour in response to notes played on a guitar.  The interactive workshop, titled ‘Correspondences,’ was an opportunity for artists, musicians and writers to explore the relationship between music and art.  It attracted participants from Oxford, where it was set, and visitors from across England, many of us living in the UK but originating from far-flung spots—India, China, Canada.  The workshop coordinator, artist Mark Rowan-Hull, has mastered an improvisational style of painting, on stage, to live musical performance.  He began the day by explaining synesthesia—a neurological linking of the senses.  Some people with this condition see specific colours in relation to letters or numbers.  Rowan-Hull sees colours when he hears notes.  What might we see?  He set out canvas and paper, gouache and acrylics:  we were to translate music into colour and shape. A responsive dance.  The musician Gerald Garcia began playing his own compositions on guitar and Tibetan bowls.  How unusual, and yet simple:  the room filled with the resonance of plucked notes, the accompanying scratch of our brushes. Bending and lifting arms. Heads cocked with intent. We created artistic dialogue, canvases startling in their differences—some featured vibrant colours and energetic swoops, while other paintings were delicate, shading tentative, as if seen through rain. One included single words, dropped like splotches. None were directly representational—no birds, no bells.  Instead, the evocative patterns evidenced a new way to hear.  Try it, the next time you are moved by a concert on the radio:  take a piece of paper and some pencil crayons, and let your hand do the listening.

 

 

 

Children at a workshop in Verbier

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