Storybox Success in Day Centres

Our Storybox Project Coordinator Lowri Evans has been delivering creative workshops in day centres around Manchester. Here she picks out her magic moments…

Each week we planned activities around a theme which gave gravity and sense to the creative activity. This was particularly important as many of the participants had not taken part in creative activity before. The themes were also tailored to be of interest to the groups: the workplace, mills, shopping, food and the sea. They were easy to relate to and participants could feel real ownership of the subject. The tangibility of these subjects lead to many personal discoveries. Jack had been an expert butcher, Kath was a strict tram conductor and Brenda had the loudest whistle I’ve ever heard. We all learnt from each other, everyone was valued and valid. Alice remembered how to make perfect paper boats, Ida sung Summertime and Ken showed us the difference in salutes. Bill could be a captain from exotic lands, Freda could be a jilted bride dancing to Abba at her wedding reception and I could be the muddled up maid who served champagne to everyone. We all got a sense of who we were, who we are and who we might be. And we could reflect, laugh and play with this.

Being in a small circle where you can see, hear and touch everyone is important. One carer said “circles are great, you can’t get out of them!” I liked this idea. Each week we were unsure about what would happen between the 10 participants, 2 carers and 2 artists. I think that’s part of the success. We all have the responsibility to contribute, support, enjoy and listen to each other. It’s never certain what will work, what won’t work. That unknowingness, the improvised nature of creativity is what brings us together.

Claire Ford, Storybox Artist Facilitator, also shares her experience…

One of the activities involves a parachute and this has inspired lots of special moments in my eyes. Evelyn who is blind felt the air and tactile qualities of walking underneath the silk, it really allowed for freedom and created a new exciting space. In the ‘shopping’ themed workshop Harry played a post office owner and came to life as a new character, with an accent and everything! The laughs in the room really created a special energy which everyone left the session with – extraordinary! This was especially poignant as care staff told us that they had “never seen him like that, normally he reads a lot, spends time on his own, it’s the first time he’s joined in- it’s brilliant!” I will never forget Shirley taking the paintbrush out of my hand and painting the seascape with ease and smiling with pleasure as she did so. And Rae was really engaged with the spaghetti printing and its results, “you really do learn something fascinating everyday, who would have thought, spaghetti would do this?”

I was surprised with how beneficial tableaux (frozen dramatic scenes) were at first as they can be pretty silly and extravagant but this playful and ‘new’ world can provide an enriching and hilarious situation for those participating and watching. I would like to explore the potential of tableaux; for example, dressing up as an artist and seeing what effect this has on the artwork. This could be really interesting as the participants automatically get into character.

To collaborate with other practitioners is key and can throw really wild dreams into the mix! Who would have thought that we would go travelling around the world, create real shops and receive high flying medals on the red carpet! I would certainly recommend it. Just think how interesting it would be between practitioners such as circus performers, DJ’s and musicians?

To find out more information about the Storybox Project click here