The Structured Sensory Art Project
To enable individuals with profound disabilities to independently create works of art, and to benefit from all that engagement in art has to offer in terms of enjoyment, mental well-being, developing understanding and self expression.
To support settings in creating an atmosphere of engagement and creativity.
Generate awareness of the talents of individuals with profound disability, raise awareness of the presence of individuals with profound disability in our communities, and in so doing raise awareness of the Changing Places campaign.
Eight artists with profound and multiple learning disabilities were supported by a team of facilitators to engage with shape, colour and texture. Their expressive responses to this engagement were valued as art. Responses came in the forms of movement, vocalisations and mark making.
Having a disability may limit your movement, may limit your mind, but it does not limit your creativity. Individuals with profound disabilities can have exceptional abilities when it comes to uninhibited expression.
Outcomes & Resources
Uninhibited, the exhibition of the art work produced by the artists, toured the UK in 2015 raising awareness not only of the ability of the artists who took part in the project but also of their presence as a group within society and of the Changing Places campaign.
The Structured Sensory Art Project inspired similar projects to run across the UK, and continues to do so. The project even went international with a sister project running in Portugal with new artists taking part and producing incredible results.
I was asked to train a group of interdisciplinary artists at Cardiff School of Art and Design about the merits of sensory stories. Whilst explaining to these artists about the benefits of narrative I had cause to stop and wonder aloud about the benefits of engagement with art. I asked the artists what they got out of their pursuit. No one said they painted to make a picture, sculpted to make a sculpture. Not one of the artists claimed the end product of their efforts was their reasons for the work they did. Instead they told me that it helped them understand the world, helped them to express things that could not be expressed in words, helped them to understand themselves, and benefited their mental health.
I wanted all those wonderful things for the people I work on behalf of and figured that as there had been a sensory way of facilitating the benefits of narrative there must surely be a sensory way to facilitate the benefits of creative practice. People who are disabled in some way often find art ends up as process of having things done to them, e.g. someone else hand prints with your hands. It was important for the Structured Sensory Art Project that the creative expressive elements came direct from the artists themselves. I had help from Dr Natasha Mayo, Choreographer Ali Golding and Artist James Eddy along with many others in the development of the project.