Amanda Wells – Don’t Dis Me Workshop
Amanda’s workshop gave a brief look at disability equality and disability art from her perspective, the workshop included art activities, where we were able to express our thoughts and ideas visually.
We started the workshop by drawing ‘what being disabled means to us’ It was a tricky question to try and answer visually, drawings varied from colourful abstractions to figurative and representational ideas. We shared our ideas and then Amanda shared with us the terms established by organizations which dictate what disability means. A lot of the definitions seemed to mention restrictions in normal and everyday life, yet we began to discuss how the restrictions in everyday life are a due to faults in societal functions and not a part of the person.
We discussed how different disabilities aren’t always visible, I think that education on different disabilities is lacking in schools as there is a lack of knowledge on the topic and this lack of knowledge leads to a segregation and ignorance in society.
We discussed how people with disabilities might be treated, how funding is being cut which will affect their everyday life.
The second activity we did was with the modelling clay, we were asked to create a visualization of a barrier that we might have overcome, however big or small. Some were literal and some more abstract, my own was a basket with blue and white eggs inside with one larger yellow egg, this was a representation of learning to prioritize my jobs, picking out the most important job to do first rather than trying to do them all.
Amanda shared with us a lot of useful information in regard to stereotypes and prejudices in society. It was really interesting to answer questions visually, where images and ideas could take a more symbolic form.
I organized a workshop with AA2A artist Mary Hill, the workshop was titled –
How to develop a Mindful Drawing Practice.
It was ‘An opportunity to explore the experience of drawing mindfully to then discuss how this could help your practice as artists and creative practitioners.’
The workshop was a great opportunity to gain an insight into Mary's work and a chance for a diverse group of people to interact through the drawing practice. Mary led two exercises, the first was to create a drawing from our imagination and the second was to create a drawing from an object. Both of the exercises were quite short and this later led to a discussion on having the workshops more regularly, allowing students and staff the time to stop and take a step back from their usual routine. Not only could students share their new found approaches to their work but we could also invite Mary back in to participate and lead the sessions.
Mary introduced the concept of being more mindful during the exercised, being conscious of posture, the body, the breath, the surroundings and of our intuitive observation. It was fascinating that although we were in a fairly noisy space it did not distract us from working peacefully, everyone was very involved in their drawing. We reflected on our personal experiences from the practice, I personally became more aware of how my body was positioned during practice and I began to be more aware of how this might affect my drawing.
It was nice to be able to work free from our own and others judgment with the ability to be able to freely express ourselves through drawing. I think the mindful practice was particularly beneficial because it was within the university, a place where people are usually moving around and constantly working to meet deadlines, so being able to work creatively without an agenda was therapeutic and a chance to let the mind relax from thought.
I found the workshop beneficial because it opened up a window of time where I could let go of all other priorities. I personally usually only draw when I create sketches of my planned sculptures, so it was nice to be able to return to a skill that inspired my initial artistic journey.