Practice day of the Experiencing the Social Work World project

Yesterday me, Lisa and Matt met at our arts workshop venue to run through next week’s schedule and smooth out any potential issues. Next week is the time when 15 social workers will come together and use art to express how they feel they are viewed by others. Our 15 participants have already been recruited and are ready and eagerly waiting. The arts materials have been purchased and the venue has been booked. Everything is in place and we are prepared.

But after months of thinking, talking and planning, we realised that what we actually needed to do was understand how the participants would feel on the day. This was the purpose of yesterday, to go to the workshop and pretend to be the participants. The reason for doing this was to think about how they may feel as social work practitioners perhaps using arts materials for the first time, what kind of anxieties they may experience and how we, as project leads, could anticipate these, turn them around and make the whole day an enjoyable experience.

So with Matt (our artist) in role, Lisa and I became the participants. We watched carefully and listened attentively as Matt practised the art of teaching two amateurs how to use different but sensually very interesting materials. At first we were cautious, neither knowing what to do and feeling a little embarrassed about what we would produce. However, Matt was brilliant at reassuring us and reminding us what the day was about and that whatever we did produce it would be worthy of representing our perception of self.

The first arts medium was mono printing, a form of printmaking that involves making squiggles and swooshes, doing things like tapping and drawing shapes and lines. It basically involves the transfer of ink from a special type of paper, or canvas, to a paper surface that holds the work of art. It was dead straight forward to use and what I liked about it was how we could return to the artwork and make changes. Here is a link to our work: Monoprint artwork

The second arts medium we used was wire, which is very easy to use and with pliers you can turn a piece of wire into many different shapes. We learned quickly that you don’t have to be a professional artist to create things and within a few minutes we were producing all kinds of different artefacts: Wire artwork

The third, and final, arts medium we used was clay. There are many different kinds of clay to use but the one we have opted for is the easiest yet, in my opinion, the most dramatic. As Matt was talking Lisa and I were fiddling with it and couldn’t wait to get started. By this time, we had relaxed into the practice and were really enjoying ourselves so it didn’t take much encouragement from Matt for us to get started: Clay artwork.

We concluded the practice day on a big high and went home with smiles. It felt good to have chosen, what we think, are the right materials for our participants and it also felt good knowing that if we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves then hopefully so will our participants. Roll on next weekend.

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