A bit of a mixed but busy week this week. Workshop delivery continued with the school classes but due to the bank holiday I had to give up one of my days for working on my own practice in the dome. I was also forced to cancel and reschedule a full day of delivery due to high winds in the early part of the week. It is definitely not safe to put up the dome in high winds, even though the structure is properly weighted and fixed down the force was definitely enough to have damaged the structure and at this stage I simply don’t have the time to wait for delivery of spare parts from Germany! The ever changing weather however did give me opportunity to test out the workshop delivery in the rain and the ways in which that could work. The dome is still fit for purpose in the rain, still letting in more than enough light for the prints to expose and keeping all of the rain out. The bigger issue is a suitable space for the groups to sit when not working in the dome whilst I’m delivering other parts of the session. The camping tarp that I bought whilst waterproof and a good cover just isn’t big enough. I’m now looking into other options, the likeliest candidate being a pop up gazebo.
I’ve also had a lot of points this week that have helped me to refine the workshop delivery, tweaking things slightly dependent on the age of the participants and also working out extra mini activities that could occupy the group in periods where they might need to wait their turn to enter the dome for a specific activity. This is presenting a good challenge as I’m considering activities that can help to further their understanding the properties of the Cyanotype process, largely getting the groups to consider the way the light might fall and be blocked when falling onto their photosensitive paper when working with different sized objects.
At this point I’m thinking of shifting to creating three different workshops of different lengths and depth of content which will suit the different requirements and abilities of participants but also act as a sort of “shopping list” for future clients who may book the project for their setting, giving me a range of options and approaches to suit them.
All of these “under the bonnet” considerations aside the children and staff are seemingly enjoying the project, process and are constantly wowed by the results. I’ve also noticed that the children are really relishing the opportunity to be outside of the classroom. Greenfield School is lucky in that it has a woodland area which we’ve made good use of for the project. Every group has jumped at the chance to explore this space whilst finding objects for their images. One member of staff highlighted another benefit of this part of the workshop. One of their pupils asked a lot of questions about what the different types of plants were that they were considering using in their images. Most of the plants are what you would consider quite common and this clearly highlighted a real lack of engagement with the natural world especially for a child at the older end of primary education. Sweeping generalisation maybe, but I imagine he wouldn’t be the only child his age spending more time indoors these days. I’m pleased that, even if in a small way, one aspect of the project is generating a curiosity and connection with the outdoors.