I find it a hard balance to create a workshop that is both challenging and relaxing….being creative can really make you feel out of your comfort zone, which is how some of the women in the group may have felt on this session. One woman said, “this is the hardest thing I have ever done.”
Alongside a challenge comes the risk of feeling like you have failed….and this feeling tends to come up when peoples` perfectionist comes to the surface and someone who always tends to be a bit of a perfectionist finds it difficult when there is no clear boundaries of what is right and wrong in my experience. One of the difficulties of perfectionism is that people tend to think it is a positive attribute and they feel it helps their creativity. Perhaps it could help to drive them to get what they see as ‘right,’ but there is the problem for me…there is no ‘right’ and it is getting rid of these restrictions that is true creativity for me.
There is a bit of perfectionism in the group, but I am hoping as the weeks have gone by they have started to feel a bit freer to experiment and challenge themselves. One lady said,”…this work is the best I`ve done.” This made me really happy, as this lady had judged her work quite harshly and this acknowledgement of her pride felt really important.
It was my last workshop with the refugee group and I really wanted to involve as many participants in the project as possible….I`d organised the room differently to try and accomodate for the different needs of the core group and the drop-in participants.
Of course when you prepare and expect a particular thing to happen it often doesn
t!The session that took place was a real surprise…with only six people there, the smallest group yet….was by far the most meaningful I had experienced. Participants concentrated and were absorbed in the activity; it felt like so much work was done in those two hours. Language difficulties in a small group do not feel like the barrier they feel when there is a large group. One participant who had previously just dropped in felt like she was able to get fully involved with the project on this session.
I am still hoping that other participants who dropped in will find meaning from the project when they come to the family event and the exhibition opening.
I`m really grateful for this experience of working with such creative and inspiring people- thank you.
The fourth session working with the refugee group felt the most chaotic; usually it happens the other way round! As the weeks tick by the group settles into it. I think because of the drop-in nature of the centre meant lots of new people turned up on this session and because we couldn`t speak each others language we resorted to basic communication, so it felt to me as though the meaning was lost.
The pattern has tended to be a core group, who still find it very difficult to follow the workshop, then the people who drop-in and seem to have no grasp or perhaps no desire to know what the project is about and use the materials doing their own thing. Despite my feelings, the session was full of people engaging in creativity. Perhaps under the circumstances this is all that matters? Maybe the meaning can come later? Having access to inks, pens, paints and the freedom to use them in anyway you want to can have enormous therapeutic benefits, so perhaps to discount this is to really under play the power of creativity and also the power to choose.
I intend to focus on making meaning from the sessions that people dropped into, by making sure their work is part of the final design. With only one more week to go I`ve planned to use the shells as inspiration and create simple stamps.
It was the third group working with the refugees and asylum seekers…I have not found it the easiest group mainly because of the language difficulties, but also because people turn up to the centre to simply get support with practical issues they are facing, so when they see a creative group happening that they no nothing about they are understandably not interested in engaging. So i have felt that I`ve been split between engaging the group members who come every week and trying to engage new people who turn up to the centre. I have become less concerned about engaging new people who turn up, instead I have been welcoming them with a cup of tea and leaving it up to them to show an interest in the group or not.
The group members who do come every week turn up throughout the group, so it`s difficult to start and finish any activity together; each person ends up at a different stage. This means explaining the activity about ten times during the session, as each group member turns up. This process of having to repeat myself feels really draining for me and I wonder about the impact on the group? It leaves me wondering about boundaries (not for the first time), whether it would be better to be stricter about the time the group started, but this would mean losing a lot of participants. Is it better that they turn up when they can and engage?
However despite these difficulties, for the first time since working with the group it felt like we had time where we were working as a group experimenting and playing with ideas together. This felt so calming and people commented how “therapeutic” it felt. The activity didn`t involve many instructions, which I think really helped create this flow within the group.