Artist: Helen Barry, School: Muslim N.S.
Over the years I have truly enjoyed working with children and teachers/youth workers both inside and outside of the school context. I have learnt that my relationship with the key adult and in this case the teacher, is crucial to the overall experience for everyone. The long-term nature of DLR Creative Practitioners programme offers a structure to enable the artist and teacher to explore how best they can work together and understand each others practice. My collaborative work usually relies heavily on the involvement of the teacher not just in a practical hands-on way but his or her knowledge of the child and the curriculum. The content of what we are exploring here with has brought up many ideas and views that at times have demanded careful challenging. During todays session I realized how Ms Donaghey (the teacher) and I have formed a way of working together that completely supports each other. We watch and listen to each other and to what is being expressed through words, images and interactions within the space. I am conscious that she will know where the boundaries are and I can rely on her to guide me along them and where she will step in. We have spent much time talking and evaluating what happens in each session. From what we make to what is suggested through images and interactions and behavior to how I felt with how I dealt with something and where next we shall go. We have learnt how to trust each other and step in rhythm together in the classroom. This supportive relationship has enabled us to delve deeper offering a more worthwhile experience for us all.
On a practical level for todays session we were based in the classroom. We continue to create buildings and spaces for people and place on coloured paper. These images and ideas will form the walls of our city. The deeper the questioning the more information reveals itself. I also asked the children to form small groups and look at ways in how we can create a playful maze in order to guide the viewer through their work. Our ambition is to create a space that potentially moves as the viewer is guided through. We have sketched a plan of our city ‘Generosity’, the moving walls offering boundaries, disorientation, information and a sense of play all at the same time. As the artwork takes shape it is wonderful to see the children become more aware of the process and how their views change.