“I’ve known of Project Ability since a lecturer suggested applying to volunteer when I was discussing my plans after studying at Gray’s School of Art. I’ve been following a plan towards studying a masters in Art and Psychotherapy for over 10 years. It’s the only career I’ve ever felt compelled to pursue. I have a deep desire to help others in any way I can, which combined with my engrained creativity would make it the ideal job for my personality. I’ve always admired the work Project Ability does and really wanted the opportunity to learn from them and the artists supported there.
As part of my journey, over the last two years, I have been working as a support worker for adults with learning difficulties, mental health illnesses and physical disabilities. I have incorporated art workshops and community based creative activities – when appropriate and if time allows – with the people I support, including helping to remodel the bedroom of a young woman I support to include a large sensory corner where she can spend some time out of her wheelchair.
In my job I have many other responsibilities, so having the chance to be immersed in a purely arts based environment at Project Ability, has been amazing. The feedback from the tutors has also been encouraging, especially when they have recognised the benefits of something I’ve tried with the artists they support.
A lot of the art workshops I have facilitated at work or other places, I have volunteered and have funded by myself. Having the time, space and resources at Project Ability has given me the opportunity to experiment more with people. Engaging with the artists to identify what they enjoy has been a big highlight for me. This has been particularly helpful with the non-verbal artist who I have spent the most time working with. The flexibility to switch to different materials and processes has helped me support him without creative limitations.
Focusing solely on art as a method to enrich people’s lives has been one of the most valuable periods of time I have spent volunteering. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge and learned new techniques to support people which will help me in future projects.
My own art practice has benefited too. While supporting one of the Saturday artists, I have made examples pieces to work from. There’s been quite a few moments where I have made work completely divorced from my usual palette and style because I haven’t been aiming to produce ‘art’ or been too precious and concerned with the result, yet I have liked the outcome more than I usually do. Working with the artists has definitely taught me to make work I enjoy making removed from my own expectations and standards I tend to place on myself.
I have been sad at the end of every session because I’ve been having far too much fun! I will definitely miss working with all of this group of inspiring people, but I’m so grateful that I have been fortunate enough to have worked with the artists alongside the tutors.”
Thank you Robyn!