Deep and digital: creative participatory sessions with Maynooth University

ThumbnailIn June I led two participatory creative sessions for Maynooth University. The plan had originally been for me to deliver them in person, but as this was not possible I suggested doing them online. I wasn’t sure how successful this approach would be, but together we discoverd that it is perfectly feasible to make and share creative practice in this way.

The first workshop with Education PhD candidates and purpose was to bring them together to think about some creative approaches they might to use in their own research projects. I began by sharing a presentation of examples of my work: some projects from pre-Covid19 times, and then participatory projects that I had been doing in the restricted period. We then did a creative activity together and bearing in mind that many people were feeling quite distressed and distracted by the uncertainties of their situations, I chose a simple method of engagement and drew on my own research to create visual examples, as shown below.
1. Frame
1. Take your postcard, place it long ways and draw a frame around the edge. (The frame acts as a ‘threshold’ into the activity.)

2. Character
2. Draw a picture of someone who is in some way key to your research

3. Character with notes
3. Label three aspects of this person that stand out for you in some way.

4. Introduce your person to the group explaining how they are key to your research and giving more detail about the three aspects you have chosen to highlight. Listen to others as they share their’s.

4. Extended character
5. Attach your portrait on your sheet of A4 and consider those three aspects in relation to the Covid19 situation.

6. Share with the group, and listen to others as they share their’s.

Participants from both groups kindly agreed for me to show their work here.
Margaret O'Keeffe
Juliette Bertoldo
Pauline Mc Namee
Roisin O'Donohoe

The second workshop was with DISCs project advocates. DISCs (Disciplines Inquiring into Societal Challenges) aims to build the capacity of Irish HE to meet staff teaching and learning development needs in relation to societal challenges and sensitive topics, and the advocates are drawn from a range of departments across three Universities.
You can read more about the DISCs project here

The purpose of this workshop was to bring the advoates together to support their thinking about the next academic year, how they were coping with uncertainty, and what the Covid19 crisis means in terms of changes in pace, and future teaching space/s. I showed them similar examples of work and we then embarked on a mapping activity, again using a plain postcard and simple drawing materials.
Postcard with dot
1. Take your postcard, place it width ways and put a dot on it. (This time the dot acts as a ‘threshold’ into the activity.)

2. Draw a map of what your world looks like at the moment.

3. Share your map with the group, and listen to others as they share their’s.

4. Attach your map to a sheet of A4 paper and extend it to accommodate your thoughts and insights you have had.

I would like to thank both groups for their wholehearted participation in such strange times.

Fergus Ryan
‘As discussed, it depicts both a bounded, restricted world coupled with a renewed appreciation for the finer details of my town and a greater appreciation for nature and the things we generally take for granted. I remember having this very powerful sense of being hemmed in by the motorway, usually my link to Dublin City and the West, and the route to my parents’ home.’
Angela Rickard
Bernie Grummell
Karen English
Mary Murphy
Meliosa Bracken 1
Comments from participants

‘Engaging with Luci’s workshop was really beneficial, she shared her wonderful socially just practice with us and empowered us to create our own art using simple step by step instructions. Employing visual arts based methods to connect with my own research participants enabled me to deepen my engagement with them.’

‘I was struck again by how creative methodologies can open up rich conversations that feel a little bit different from our usual ways of communicating and feel a little bit more vulnerable as a result – not something we are always encouraged to be in the day job! Certainly lots of all of your ideas and, of course, my own, were floating around my head over the weekend!’

‘I want to thank you very sincerely and warmly for organising and hosting the Creative Art Workshop last Friday. I found it very enriching and thought-provoking. My DISCs colleagues at Maynooth are splendid, and I learn so much from them at all our meetings, but this most recent meeting was a particular highlight. I enjoyed learning, in particular, about your projects in Bristol, both pre-COVID and post-COVID. Thank you again for the workshop. The technique is an excellent way of eliciting very deep conversations and connecting with others in a very profound way.’

‘…it gave me a sense of how it is possible to make creative spaces and processes online (that always seemed counter-intuitive given that we associate ICT with technical processes and functional modes!)’

‘Thanks for the workshop, great to take some contemplative time and hear other people’s experiences, I was really struck by M’s not wanting it to end … and hope we can capture and keep some of the good we experienced…’

‘That was fantastic!’