A Queen of a Workshop – we will rock you

Friday saw the final of our workshops with Stuart, which was, as always. thoroughly enjoyable. Stuart arrived with a big smile and we sat down to our routine cuppa and catch up before work commenced. We spoke about how his week has been so far, how he got to the Touchbase Pears centre that day and what his plans were for the weekend.

Stuart likes to ask us questions about what we have been doing, and what cars Rob and I drive. In particular his interest lyes in whether we have a cassette player in our cars, which brings us back to his passion and fascination with all things musical and audio based. Stuart also likes to copy or rather audibly recount things he has heard on the radio and echos the dialogue or way in which a radio DJ might speak. This is really interesting and at times amusing, and shows he is an intent listener and has a strong memory, particular for things he finds interesting. We enjoy the time we spend with Stuart and feel the more time we get to spend with him, the more he is comfortable and the more we get to learn about him. He is a funny, intelligent and engaging person and we have learnt from other practitioners he works with at the centre, that he talks about the work we have been doing together and the time we have been spending together. We feel this is a key indication of how positive this project has been in relation to the interaction we have had with Stuart and the works we have begun to develop in relation.

After tea, we set to work, explaining to Stuart that we have only three more musical/ sound based sculptures to make within the session, we delved into the bins again to see what other goodies we could find. We identified some circular wooden plates/bowl like objects and a wooden table lamp with interesting linear designs cut into it. Stuart found a long thin glass jar that he tested out as a beater, tapping it onto the wooden circular blocks in a repetitive fashion.

The repetition of the sound and differing pitches of sound were something we noticed Stuart responded to positively. Banging/ tapping onto different objects made from different materials altered the pitch in sound which we discussed with Stuart, he defined which one he liked most.

We have become aware of the importance if time and space when working with Stuart, the approach is different. You can not work within a rigid frame work, I would argue that any kind of making (creative exchange) can not exist within such a format anyway. However in particular when working with Stuart we have learnt that the approach to making within the workshop and how we support and facilitate Stuart with the process of making, needs to be completely flexible, we must work in response to how Stuart is feeling and responding to the objects and the interaction with these. For example Stuart began tapping out the beat of ‘We will Rock you’ by Queen song, which he knows and has told us his support worked Felix has on his phone, this became a focus to this part of the workshop. At this point Stephanie Tyrrell, national arts manager for Sense, dropped into the workshop to say hello and suggested that Stuart might like to show us how he can play the song on the keyboard, which we obviously wanted to see. This was a wonderful addition to what we were doing and brought in another strand of creative experience and exchange, which was furthered by Rob joining in on percussion.

Stephanie from Sense Touchbase, Rob and Stuart

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