Available Workshops and Projects

I have been running participatory arts projects for over a decade now, and although each one is planned and delivered separately, some themes have emerged.

This is by no means a complete list, and my starting point is always to develop a project from the needs and goals of any particular group, but this will give a flavour of what has worked well in the past.

Photography – Portraiture

The portrait may be a descriptive art that delivers some sense of identity, but it also demands a relationship, however temporary, between photographer and sitter.  As well as covering good camera technique, and wherever possible an introduction to studio lighting, a portrait based project develops interpersonal skills, communication and confidence, and an awareness of self image.  I have run variations of this workshop with young people in care and adult mental health service users, and have seen the difference a few weeks can make.  The projects often have a soft lead in, starting with self then group member portraits, before working up to photographing strangers.

I can provide cameras and a portable studio rig where needed.  This is one area of course where we may not be able to exhibit work, or show sample photographs on this website…

Photography – Landscape

There is a growing body of work underpinning the positive health benefits of just being in the countryside – something some of us might take for granted but that might be a real challenge for others.  Landscape or environment based projects can be at the mercy of the weather (so planning should always include alternative sessions under cover where really necessary), although I have rarely had to cancel sessions if sufficient planning has taken place. 

The projects often draw their subject matter from the season as much as the location, and can often be extended to take account of local flora and fauna: a recent project at Holton Lee produced some great images of mushrooms as well as out intended subjects.

I can provide a number of digital 'bridge' cameras and other photographic gear, and may be able to recommend suitable venues.  Holton Lee as an example is a 350 acre estate in south Dorset with heath, wooodland, marsh and beach environments.  It is run by a charity that works in the areas of environment, art and disability, is fully accessible (including the woodland…) and has studio/classrooms and its own purpose built exhibition space.

Photography – Product

These workshops have usually centred around producing images for a specific purpose, such as decoration for a community hall or cafe.  This is a more deliberate approach to photography that requires a good set of camera skills, and can often extend a participant's understanding of photography.

The photography can be only part of a larger project – recent work with a group of charities in North Dorset set up an eBay shop as an extension of a high street charity shop.  I designed a project that included internet and book based research and valuation, a cataloguing and sales tracking system, cash handing and despatch responsibilities, and negotiated and trained for various team and individual job roles.  This project – which combined participant experience with some potential for income generation – ran for some time after the end of my involvement, but sadly ceased when the host charities closed down.  I would really like to embed that sort of project somewhere else…

Photography – Photojournalism

A location based approach to bringing photography and writing skills together – visit a location, and produce a short illustrated report either on an individual or small team basis.  Skill levels are related to the target group, and can be used to address known literacy issues; a dedicated literacy support worker can be brought in too if desired.

Output can be in the form of a printed newsletter, but I favour a simple web based approach – a photoblog adds ICT, team working and management skills, as well as providing both continuity throughout the project and a lasting record afterwards.

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