So, as I’ve mentioned before, a big part of this project is about the conversations we have when we are busy making things. I have ideas about this from my experiences of working with groups but I’m trying very hard not to prejudge, but to listen and record what actually happens.
To help with the research and development stage I’m in at the moment, I sent a message out to people on my mailing list asking if anyone would be willing to bring a craft activity, anything that kept their hands and brains busy but meant they were able to talk at the same time, to my house for an hour, and have their conversations recorded, in return for tea and cake.
A huge thank you to Lisa, Peter, Bryony and Gina for coming along and taking part. The session went really well, even though some of my preconceptions didn’t play out over the hour or so we were making together, it was still a very interesting and useful thing to do. Here’s my main thoughts:
- The people who came self-selected from the email I sent out and as a result were pretty socially confident and very chatty, even though most of them didn’t know each other.
- Most brought knitting to do so I think found it a little easier to talk than I did whilst curve stitching. I kept going wrong trying to keep up with them! As a result there were not as many gaps and pauses as I expected.
- We talked a bit about how it felt when we were making and taking compared to the conversation when everyone arrived and I was sorting out tea and cake. This group found not making eye contact a bit tricky and found they stopped making sometimes so that they could look at each other when talking.
- Only one conversation took place when we were making, whereas before the group quickly split into 2 x 2’s having different conversations. The group said they felt a sense of cohesion from working together, even though we were all working on different things, and that it was a much more calming conversation than what went before.
- There weren’t any particularly deep or meaningful conversations, none of the content stuck out especially, but we did only spend one hour together.
- I think the representation of the conversations in the final exhibition may have some focus on how we speak and how it feels to talk while we work. I’m thinking that it will be a good idea to talk to participants about their experience of talking while making, as well as recording the conversations themselves.
As an afterthought… I was at a cider making day at my friend’s house on Saturday and spent a large part of the day standing around a table in the back garden washing apples with about four other people. I didn’t know any of them very well but the process was very straightforward and quite relaxing and I noticed that we all felt quite comfortable not speaking for fairly long periods of time. So, there’s definitely something in it!