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Making Space to See the Path

by James on July 28th, 2014
A boy captures his experience of Bath Botanic Gardens

A boy captures his experience of Bath Botanic Gardens – with St Andrews School for 5x5x5=creativity

I wanted to write a blog post today that reflected on the last few months of busy projects in London, Bath, Hertfordshire and Wiltshire, and what I’ve learned and gained, but it allĀ  feels a little too close, I’m still zooming along on the energy that fueled a very busy and exciting patch, and can’t quite focus enough to draw out my own learning.

I’m planning on taking a few months off from running projects from September, to devote myself to other things (more to come on that as I confirm the details) and that will give me space to look back and appreciate what I have achieved, what participants have gained and what the full benefit of this kind of work actually is.

A page from the Warminster Town Scrapbbok, sharing stories from the Living Memory Wiltshire Project for Wiltshire Council with Curious Company

A page from the Warminster Town Scrapbook, sharing stories from the Living Memory Wiltshire Project for Wiltshire Council with Curious Company

Describing sound and combining with colour - School Without Walls at Pound Arts, Corsham

Describing sound and combining with colour – School Without Walls at Pound Arts, Corsham

Year 9 students respond to the outdoor environment at Pound Arts

Year 9 students respond to the outdoor environment at Pound Arts

I know what the official point is, how I describe myself and what I do on my sites and in my presentations, and that’s honestly what I set out to do, and what I’ve learned over time the benefits are to people, in terms of learning and well-being. But what else? What actually happens to your heart and soul? How are you changed in relationship to the people and plants and animals around you, and where do those ripples spread?

I’m talking about making space for something less tangible to happen, something that’s not easily sharable, but which is still vitally important, maybe more so, and which comes with feelings of belonging, glimpses into eternity, and a taste of our potential as ecological beings. I want to take each of the experiences I’ve had recently, each of the seeds that I’ve sown and which have been sown in me, and reflect on what might grow, where they might take me to next in order for me to gain the greatest learning and reap the greatest reward, for myself and the wider world.

Making collections at The Hoburne Museum, Bath

Making collections at The Holburne Museum, Bath

A girl maps her experience of walking to Chorleywood Common

A girl maps her experience of walking to Chorleywood Common – with Outdoor Culture and Chilterns AONB

Year 6 students and their teacher notice changes and locate familiar buildings on an aerial photo of Durrington - Living memory Wiltshire at Durrington Library

Year 6 students and their teacher notice changes and locate familiar buildings on an aerial photo of Durrington – Living Memory Wiltshire at Durrington Library

My work is joyful, messy, bodily, colourful, cold, wet, hot, funny, exhausting, hard, connecting, alien to some and liberating for others.

There’s more than I can describe right now and here, and that indescribable bit, that being able to describe only through the colourful, muddy, wet, in-the-moment-ness, is what I am looking forward to letting out a little more for myself over the coming months.

Children design, create and paint a recycled wood construction at Sheringham Nursery, E London

Children design, create and paint a recycled wood construction at Sheringham Nursery, E London for Bow Arts Trust

A group of Year 2 children map their experiences of the Bath Botanic Gardens with found materials and pastels

A group of Year 2 children map their experiences of the Bath Botanic Gardens with found materials and pastels

I often tell others to go with the flow, trust their gut, be with the not-knowing and pay attention to what emerges.

When you notice what emerges you can find and follow a path that is uniquely yours and yet which flows as part of the wider world, woven though it and supported by it. I think its time to pull back from participatory work for a little while, and make that space for myself too, so that I can better notice how I’m growing, what my work does for me and what path I want to follow next.

A girl painting a piece of the Sheringham Nursery construction

A girl painting a piece of the Sheringham Nursery construction

 

A boy from St Saviours Infant School exploring flowers and trees as part of a whole school creativity & biodiversity project with 5x5x5=creativity

A boy from St Saviours Infant School exploring flowers and trees as part of a whole school creativity & biodiversity project with 5x5x5=creativity

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