#artofattachment Brighton Oasts Project

Having just got home from taking down the exhibition at Jubilee Library, Brighton I thought it was a good time to reflect on my contribution to the #artofattachment. When I was initially asked by Brighton Oasis Project to be one of the Arts Council funded Artists I had just been given a place at Brighton University’s MA in sequential design. My proposal was to do with researching everyday interactions between parents and children. I quickly realised that this is really about attachment theory so #artofattachment has been an excellent way to explore this idea further.

I started the project last summer by accompanying a Young Oasis trip to National Trust’s Saddlescomb farm. I joined in with den building activities and observed what the children did and said and made some initial sketches which I developed into two drawings which I felt summed up the morning. Children worked together to build a bench, the communicated what they wanted to do, listened to each other, trusted each other and used their imaginations to create a successful outcome.

I started my MA in October and began to research attachment theory. I learnt about John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and Donald Winnicott and how their research informs how modern practice working with children and families. It gave me a much better understanding of what The Brighton Oasis Project do and why they are successful in helping families.

In January I visited Boppers stay and play session. I observed, made sketches and joined in with activities. I watched the way the creche worker modelled positive interactions with the children and how the parents were able to see that and use elements of it in their own parenting. There was lots of positive language, encouragement, support, and getting messy too! I developed my sketches into digital drawings.

.In February I was given the opportunity to see Charlotte Vincent working with Young Oasis. Charlotte in a choreographer and is funded by the Wellcome Trust as part of the #artofattachment project. She is working with the Women at Brighton Oasis Project to produce a live performance to be shown at the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, in Brighton on October 18th. In the session I observed Charlotte worked with some of the young people aged between 6 and 11. She got them to explore the space and their relationship to it as well as different ways to interact and build up trust with other people in the room. It was an intense experience and I could see the powerful effect it had on the young people. They were able to express how they felt about it. There was a calmness afterwards in the room. Everything had slowed down.

“It was like I was floating in space”

“I was swimming in the sea”

I wanted to capture what had happened. As I had been part of the workshop I had only made a couple of quick sketches, so I worked from memory creating ink drawings which I then scanned into photoshop and created a composition from.

From these drawings I made some large cardboard figures to be hung in the library windows for the #artofattachment exhibition which finished today. It was interesting playing with scale. I often work quite small so enlarging my little ink drawings was a challenge but a good one! I also made some speech bubbles with quotes from the children at the workshop. The interactions between the figures gave a good visual idea of what attachment might look like and mean and on a large scale this was even clearer than in the original drawings. I hope they also captured the intensity, calmness and slowness of Charlotte’s workshop.

The final Young Oasis activity I observed was a performance of the Selkie Wife, a legend from the Faroe Islands where a young man marries who steals a Selkie’s (a type of mermaid) skin and makes her become his wife. She has a child but eventually finds her skin and returns to the sea, coming back to play with her child sometimes in the waves. I hadn’t heard the story before, but it was an ideal narrative to explore the idea of attachment, separation and a secure base. I arrived just to watch the performance. It had been a challenging morning for some of the young people involved but they were fantastic and produced a powerful play. They had instruments and had made the amazing set from cardboard boxes.

  All these images along with others were part of the exhibition at the Jubilee Library in Brighton. There was also an interactive drawing event where people were asked to draw “what attachment feels like” on an iPad and the images where sent to a screen in the library windows. I spent an afternoon helping people do this. There were some amazing responses and I had lots of interesting conversations. I have learnt so much from the #artofattachment project and it has also left me with lots of questions and a desire to find more.

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