“I made it” Blog post by Lucy Clasper
At the end of our final session D turns to Julian with a selection of balls arranged neatly and purposefully in the palm of her hand. “I made it” she says, her words seemingly full of pride and ownership and a profound and perfect full stop to the end of our project.
As I have reflected on her words I could not think of a more perfect summary to our time at Beaumont Court and so I have borrowed her words and made them my own…
I find myself thinking about how this project has enabled us to become a ‘community of individuals.’ That the ‘I’s’ in the room have become more visible in the group of residents that we first met.
On our final session there is definitely a sense of belonging and joy in being together and the sense that we are a group, a cohort, a community. But perhaps more strikingly than ever is the way in which people’s individuality is shining through. There has been something about this way of working; of being and creating together in the moment, by going wherever the wind may take us, that has allowed each person’s uniqueness to be expressed and celebrated.
As I look around the room I feel a deep sense of ‘knowing’ about the people who have joined us, that far exceeds the time that we have spent together. Somehow in all the unknown creative territories that we have explored there has been this incredible sense of discovery about each other. There is definitely a sense of trepidation for us as an artist team as we set off on these creative adventures- but letting go and allowing things to unfold, and believing that something will emerge has lead to the most wonderful discoveries, not only about those we are working with but about ourselves.
I have tried to sit back a little on this project, and rather than hungering for those big group moments, just allow myself to observe the individual moments of expression that happen concurrently. I am thinking in particular of C. reading the medical journal and sitting next to a pile of bones, (that were sourced by the team after C told us about her childhood passion for anatomy), while the music swirls around her concentrated stance. Also of O. reading Spanish poetry aloud with Julian at the start of the session after discovering there is no one who can speak Spanish with him in the home, while Clare and I simultaneously improvised a piece around Amazing Grace for L, who started the session in a very low and lost state. Of D and her insatiable appetite for play and mischief, and who is sitting still for just a few moments to wind a bobbin. Of I. whose desire to direct the music shows his inner strength and determination, that is more commonly masked by his self effacing words. And I wonder when else this type of freedom is possible in a care home environment, and sense a hunger and delight as people are able to show a little more of who they are and to be known a little more. The ‘I’of ownership has resonated throughout this project as people have created their own music, their own dance, and made their own mark, both literally and metaphorically.
The question around what we create and what we make in these sessions is fundamental to the work we are doing because it is less and less about the object or thing that we make, but more about the very act of creating together. We have no idea what we will ‘make’ from week to week. The term ‘blank canvas’ takes on a whole new meaning as we wait to see what will unfold on the momentary page that day, as the group steers the direction we take. Yes, we make music together, we make art, we dance, we create chaos and mess and shapes and landscape and soundscapes. But, perhaps most importantly we make connections. And it is here that the ‘it’; the sometimes elusive and yet wonderfully indescribable ‘it’ moment happens; When people become visible in a new way and connect with each other there is an unspoken moment of shared experience and equality. There is a witnessing of someone else’s creativity; either alone or in partnership with others, and their often unspoken ‘I made it’ that is so powerful for a group to see and share. It unites, it connects, it builds community.