James Allott, writing from Fremantle:
And so the third week of our exchange begins. Each week has felt quite unique- with each week our experience becomes richer as we delve deeper into the arts and health work here at Dadaa .
The first week we spent here, between bouts of jet lag and consulting a wealth of maps, was chilled, laid back . Perhaps too laid back for our uptight British ways. Unless we’re overworked and moaning- we’re not happy I guess. But David, Catherine, Jacquie and the rest if the Dadaa team wanted to ease us into work slowly. Get a taste of all the different workshops here in Fremantle- painting, drawing, textiles, printing and even a little bit of music!
At some points, I have to admit , I have felt a little guilty. A little lazy perhaps. It might be the weather- the sunshine and the breeze. Perhaps it’s the laid-back Aussie way of life. But we felt like we weren’t doing enough. Already those feelings are melting away. We’re picking up the pace. We’ve been assured the workload will increase.
The second week was all about reassessing our schedule . There’ve been some workshops we’ve loved being a part of. Rachel’s printmaking and textiles workshop is exciting and engaging . The participants in the group have welcomed us warmly and made us feel part of the group. It feels good to be called for in jest ‘ Get back to work James! ‘
Other workshops haven’t been our cup of tea. This is nothing personal towards the individual art workers. As we were told by David before we even flew out here, there would be some people we would connect better with than others. Some workshops we would enjoy and have more to bring to. Dadaa’s programme is so diverse it really allows two young artists like Christina and myself to find our niche and develop new skills.
So now we progress into the third week. The past few days have been some of the more enjoyable I’ve spent here. The work we’ve been part of has been challenging and fulfilling. We’ve returned home each night with things to discuss, brains ticking. Here’s what we’ve been getting up to lately…
The first of our ‘ UK inspired’ workshops. This first session was designed to introduce ourselves and our ways of working to the participants in our group. Some of whom we haven’t met before, some of whom haven’t worked at Dadaa at all before. We wanted to put everyone at ease.
So we worked it old school . Set up some simple drawing exercises – continuous line drawing, drawing an object with your eyes closed. These exercises were designed to loosen up everybody, including ourselves. Not to be too precious or worried about perfection.
We moved onto drawing with stocks dipped in ink. Started colourful bright monoprints based on our initial drawings. Along with plenty of chat and a cup of tea. The workshop achieved its aims as everyone was busy and enjoyed the activities . Next Friday we want to push these techniques further and give the group a taste of classic British cuisine. Prepare a pineapple and cheese hedgehog. Classic.
Artlink workshops run on a Saturday for children with varied disabilities . The workshops are designed not only to provide respite for both the children and their families , but to give the children a time of their own to develop artistically and socially. Hang out. Be creative. Make things they want to make.
We were looking forward to Artlink- this was our sort of gig- in our comfort zone. Throughout the day my confidence ebbed and flowed. At times I felt powerless- my usual tact of joking a problem away with a child, didn’t work when I wasn’t even sure if we were understanding each other. I need to find new ways to communicate, new ways of working.
The prospect of working with teenagers in the afternoon session was daunting. But the whole group were so welcoming, chatty, warm and relaxed. Felt like part of the gang!
We drove out of Fremantle central up to Midland with Simone . Simone gives out the best of vibes. We were visiting two artists, Patrick Carter and Tim Maley, who as part of the Startspeak project, are currently artists in residence at Midland Junction Arts Centre.
The Startspeak project is designed to promote and develop the use of touchscreen technology and digital media in the work of disabled artists such as Pat and Tim.
It was a rich day. Getting to see a project outside the workshops. In a studio environment . Assisting and facilitating two artists – drawing, manipulating these images, recording videos, projecting these drawings and videos onto people and surfaces. Interacting with these projections and animating these characters. At one point I was imprisoned behind projected prison bars. A variety of techniques and ideas- all recorded again using digital media. Another layer to the process.
Three very fulfilling and unique days. The exchange flexes and shifts shape organically. The days are getting longer, our involvement is increasing. We’re feeling more settled and at home. Each day presents us with new challenges to meet and learn from.