The New Year starts and so we move onto the second Lookout residency. Artists Wendy Daws and Kati & Loren from Underground Pearl begin working on a range of activities and experiences with the staff and adults with autism from the Kent Autistic Trust.
The residential commenced with introductory visits across the KAT centres in Medway, providing an informed starting point for the artists and KAT staff to develop new innovative ways to engage their service users with contemporary visual arts. All participants have embraced the opportunity to observe and get inspired by their local surroundings whilst experiencing the unique and somewhat challenging environment of LV21. Artist led creative activities and workshops have introduced participants to a variety of practical arts skills including finger casting, blind drawing, balloon model making, experimenting with UV lighting, singing and sensory exploration of space, light and sound, just to name a few.
The emphasis of this collaborative project is on allowing the participants to choose their own paths and building on their interests but at the same time challenging them to try something different and ‘Out of the Ordinary’. The results to date show all involved, including the artists-in-residence and KAT staff, actively trying out new approaches, learning new skills and responding to the different creative experiments with individual input. Staff members commented that the most noticeable outcome so far along with the overall excitement of taking part has been the willingness of their service users to try out different activities, increasing their level of confidence and overall well being. LV21 is awash with laughter and confident smiling faces during the workshop sessions.
The collaboration has allowed participating artists-in-residence to reflect on their professional practice too.
“I’m discovering new ways of approaching my personal interactions and how I establish new working relationships, giving me an insight into autism and leading onto other ways of engaging and I hope, making art more accessible. I’m really keen to look at ways of working together. It’s been fascinating to challenge my own perceptions and those of others.”
From the KAT staff and participants:
“ The unexpected has been great because people have had to go with it and this in turn has opened doors that otherwise would never have opened…”
“Some people have expressed unexpected positive reaction as a result of a very unusual situation…ie ART on a BOAT? How FUNNY!”
“Everyone has been experiencing the Boat experience in a very different way, but all very positive. For most it has been a real opportunity to gain experiences that are very unique and it has made them grow in emotional responses, communication but also in the way that they have experienced other people. Some people have just been amazed, others have found it very funny and again some people have just found it magical and can’t stop mentioning the BOAT and the Captain!”
“We are very privileged to be part of this opportunity. It was a bit scary in the beginning because we did not what to expect. How was this going to work? …but it did! It has surpassed every expectation!”
Workshops are held twice weekly throughout the residential with a final celebration day in March to showcase what the participants have created and achieved.