Working as an artist with kinship carers and their children over several months in Ayrshire, I’ve been privileged to get to know families whose personal stories all involve great bravery, resilience and love.
Through family den-building, performing in wild punk bands, creating home-made instruments and so many other creative activities we have found new ways to express ourselves, got to know each other, built confidence and had a lot of playful fun together.
Each session has been a rumbustious party of differing needs and preferences where best-laid plans and best practice principles are abandoned in favour of embracing the unexpected. We accept this challenge and a regular group of families attend week after week, each bringing humour, affection and supportive fellowship for the other people they meet.
Aside from this lovely team feeling, here are some other great things about Creative Kin:
- Our sessions carve out a regular time for carers and children to spend quality time together. Each activity allows children and carers to be present with each other and to communicate (in both directions – carer to child, and child to carer). Since everyday life can be rushed and overwhelming, it’s valuable to have this dedicated time.
- The sessions give adults permission to play! This is wonderful to see, because very often it involves the grown-up stepping into the child’s make-believe world, and listening and responding to what the child has to offer. That makes a change to everyday life, where the adults must often be in charge.
- Being creative seems to allow both children and adults to express parts of themselves that they might not otherwise, and crucially our sessions involve other people witnessing and celebrating that. This seems to be really helpful for confidence. For instance, it’s normal to see people beaming after they’ve shown off a creation to the rest of the group, and I really enjoyed recently seeing a (quite quiet) child blushing with amazed pride at the huge, loud sounds they were making when singing through a tube of cardboard!
- Our sessions focus on the use of free or inexpensive materials (like used cardboard boxes and left-over scraps of fabric), and creatively re-purposed household objects. I think that this has helped participants feel confident that brilliant play and creativity doesn’t need expensive or fancy stuff. The phrase, ‘back to basics’ has been used a few times in the feedback we’ve received. I think this means that carers have appreciated the focus on simple things.
The artist-led sessions in Moray and North Ayrshire are an opportunity for families to spend quality time with each other. Read more about the project here.