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  • aostaniforth

Where Art Meets Collaborative Inquiry

Updated: May 7, 2019

On Friday 15th March 2019, a group of 16 curious minds gathered in the plentiful space of Creative Beings for a half day of collaborative painting with Bristol based artist, Luke. With a toasty fire lit and our artist ready to invite us into a circle, so our day began...

We began the day with a short exercise in pairs, geared at raising our awareness of what it was like to make art with other. The process was deeply amusing/enjoyable/reflective, depending on the pairing. Within 5 minutes of sitting down with a stranger, we were engaged in a collaborative process of responding to both our inner worlds of motivation, and external one of other's interaction via strokes of the pen. My partner and I began cackling away as we introduced play into our originally rather linear piece - there was something to do with the crossing of perceived boundaries that felt liberating; and it inspired some rather cheeky responses(!)

After this, the group came back to a circle where we reflected on how that experience was for us. I must admit, when I first sat down opposite this stranger, I wasn't too sure what to expect and I noticed my defences creeping in. Yet, as I said, within 5 minutes we were transformed into 2 giddy kids, playing with the response we gave each other. Others voiced how their co-creation has very meaningful implications for them, some shared how annoyed they got when 'their piece of art' was altered and 'messed up'! There were lots of amusing inputs and the facilitator did a wonderful, if silent role, of keeping the groups' energy buoyant and positive.

We then broke for a lovely mid-morning snack from the acclaimed 'Accidental Vegan Cafe' of Honiton - with gorgeous bake-well tart flapjack, fresh strawberries and a selection of teas and drinks.

Luke announced the next bit of the day which was a collaborative painting experience in complete silence (in groups of four). We self assigned ourselves and elected an initial mark maker. Once the clock began, we converged on our canvass with our acrylic paints. I noticed our group keep very much to ourselves until a member crossed over the whole board, sparking collaboration. At this point, we each started adding new things to what had previously been perceived as 'other peoples' board space. This went on for an hour, with the option for us to stop granted if more than half the group thought the painting was finished. What we created was incredible - simplistic shapes and graphic swirls highlighted by carefully crafted precision strokes transformed this once clear canvass into a psychedelic tribal painting lookalike.

Once the hour was up, we came together and shared our individual inner/outer feelings and experiences of our collaborative process. The work was geared at bringing us strangers together to form a point of mutual interest through which we may then better relate. It was a powerful experience. We saw new dialogues open between individuals who hadn't spoken that day, we saw deep feedback offered and supported for those who experienced an undesirable behavioural pattern in themselves emerging and most of us came away with a fantastic energy which powered me through the rest of my day and beyond.

As if that wasn't enough, we thanked Luke and ended the session with an absolute feast provided by the very same 'Accidental Vegan Cafe'. Wow.

Thank you Luke for sharing your work and your creativity with us all at Creative Beings!

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