A Day in the Life of College One

students look at the gallery of images created through the workshop

Words and images : Olivia Wedderburn

During their second year of Unit X College One students work with each other and outside organisations to learn how to use their practice to work with schools, galleries and community groups. Project Unit X digital reporter Olivia Wedderburn spent a day with them to find out more…

This week, students working on the College One brief of Unit X attended a day of guest lectures in order to help them gain an understanding of some of the fields they could devise a workshop in to assist people through art and interaction.

Students started their day with art therapist Avril Neagle, who accommodated for 40 students who said that although they were interested in the realms of art therapy, knew very little about it. She started the session discussing themes of art and identity, before initiating a workshop of her own. Students split into small groups and were asked to draw various images, first a sun, then a moon, then a tree. These images would be hung on the studio wall, before being completed with the addition of an image of “anything you like”.

students pin their drawings on the studio wall

The group congregated and engaged with the gallery, whilst the speaker spoke of how she uses images to decipher a story of what emotional trauma her patients (usually children) are expressing and struggling with. Avril noted that the images she asked to draw were not those of a psychoanalytic nature however!

students look at the gallery of images created through the workshop

Avril further went onto slowly draw an image in which students were asked to shout out what they believed the image to be, and drew on the language they were using about the animal to try and evoke the nature of the animal, resulting in a scruffy rat from under the Mancunian way being produced. Avril continued to speak about the clues that imagery evokes, and how this method was highly effective when working with children. Art therapy for adults is a rarer notion however, as it is usually used when all other therapies have been exhausted. Art therapy had clearly got the students thinking as an in depth Q+A session ensued, before College One broke for lunch.

After lunch Bryan Frew invited students to a talk on working with children with learning disabilities. Students found themselves being able to contextualise techniques that they would be able to use within their own workshops, and it was a real eye opener for one second year interactive arts student who stated that: “I had assumed it was hard, but I didn’t know just how hard. Bryan made it look so rewarding though.”

After their day of informative sessions, the students were able to gain a whole new perspective on their impending workshops. Students discussed new collaborative opportunities with each other as they began to be able to pick out what areas they would like to help with and how, assisted by the day’s talks. The hands on aspect of the morning talk, followed by the formal yet informative afternoon, gave students a wide range of information to help decipher what they want to achieve from this year’s Unit X. Whilst they may still be in their formative stages, they’ve certainly been supplied with plenty of food for thought.

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