Tag Archives: curious

Leap Day Learning

A review of Leap Day 2016

Act One : Scene One

Monday 29th February 2016, a group of 15 intrepid, curious explorers gathered at The British Library. I distributed our Leap Day journals, and read a short poem which we discovered on Leap Day 2012. This poem was printed and stuck into each copy of the journal.

The Leap Day Poem

Act One : Scene Two

With our nod to the previous Leap Day complete – we took time to explore the Alice in Wonderland exhibition at The British Library. As we did so – we thought about beginnings, and before we headed off down the rabbit hole to our next destination, we stood and shared some of the things we found. I’ve written many in my journal, here are just a few:

She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it). Found by Jo Stephenson in the exhibition.

You do not know if
What you leave behind
Will weave into our world
And ignite beauty into our mind

A poem by Meg Peppin

‘It’s too dark to read anything except your thoughts’ I forget who spotted this. If it was you – let me know and I’ll pop your name in here.

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of the journey
Is not to arrive
Anything can happen…
N. Peart

That’s enough about lessons, tell her about games now. Found by Steve Chapman in the exhibition.

With our beginnings shared, we headed off. As we left the building, we shared some home made chocolate and cranberry brownies. When Alice at the ‘Eat Me’ cake, she grew. I wondered how we would grow throughout the day.

Act Two : Scene One

Some of us walked to Tate Modern, some caught the tube. On arrival, we explored an exhibition titled Making Traces and considered a few questions. The questions were:

How do you leave a trace?

A footprint, a photograph or a mark of where you were?
What do traces tell us about what happened before?
What trace would you leave for others to discover?

I traced the outline of my hand into my journal, then made another copy of my hand on a sheet of tracing paper, following the lines of the grain on the wooden floor of the gallery. I overlaid one onto the other. I made some drawings, copying and blind drawing (method illustrated here), and I thought about physical traces, online traces, and legacy too. I found this process thoughtful, enjoyable, uplifting, particularly when considering legacy. Here is some of my work.

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Act Two : Scene Two

As we prepared to leave Tate Modern I distributed pieces of an artwork titled Good Hearts, which I made over the weekend. I wasn’t sure how to integrate this gift into the day, and as we stood together in the gallery, this felt like the right time to give.

Good Hearts

Interlude : Lunch and conversations at Borough Market

Act Three : Scene One

Over lunch, some conversations emerged about what to do next. We decided to walk to the National Theatre where we would stop, and make some art. Like everything in the day – this was an invitation, and on arrival, some of us drew and painted, some of us did other things. Those of us who made art, agreed to distribute it for others to pick up and take home – a collective trace of Leap Day. What a lovely idea. Here is some of our art.

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Act Three : Scene Two

Those of us who remained – drifted to the bar and shared some more good conversation over a drink. Thanks to everyone who came along for a day of useful fun. Without people, you’re nothing.

Exit stage left.

Producer’s notes:

Michelle Parry-Slater has kindly written about her Leap Day experience here.

Steve Chapman has kindly written a piece related to Leap Day and more, here.

I used Twitter and Slack to coordinate Leap Day and correspond with everyone. I think I only sent two emails, both very early on in the preparation. I was new to Slack – and found it a bit tricky to adopt but once I got my feet under the virtual desk, I found it a useful place to share project information, news and updates with the group.

I enjoy this work because: it’s fun, I learn new things, I like doing things for others : making the journals, the Leap Day logo, the art, the chocolate brownies, all these things were a pleasure.

We were short of time at the end of Leap Day and several people left their art with me – I agreed to distribute it for them. Fortunately I was in a position to retrace some of our steps later in the week so the commitment was fulfilled in close proximity to where the making took place. I enjoyed the process of honouring the group and letting go of the work for others to find. As this piece says, ‘JUST CREATE and don’t be attached to it’.

Just Create

Be invitational, be kind, be encouraging, be open to possibilities.

Leap Day 2016 : What’s In Store?

Secret London

Leap Day 2016 takes place – somewhat unsurprisingly – next Monday, the 29th February. This will be the second Leap Day I’ve taken part in, and it is shaping up to be quite different from the first. We are a bigger group of people this time, and we are not dependant on a single main venue. Although most of our creative curiosity will be invested indoors at various places, the weather will shape the day to some extent. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked ahead at the weather forecast with so much frequency and interest.

This time around I’m putting together a rough draft for the day. Timings are approximate and as the day unfolds, things intentionally get looser. I thought you might like to see where I am at right now:

Leap Day 2016 LogoLeap Day 2016 : Curiouser and Curiouser

10.30am…ish : Meet at British Library – Alice in Wonderland exhibition

Check in – cocreate desired mood, tone, expectations.

11.30am …ish : Down the rabbit hole : Surface at London Bridge – Oyster card may be useful here.

Walk to Tate Modern (approx 15 minutes – pass by Southwark Cathedral, Golden Hind, Winchester Place, Clink Prison, Globe Theatre).

Midday…ish : Making Traces:

How do you leave a trace?

  • A footprint, a photograph or a mark of where you were?
  • What do traces tell us about what happened before?
  • What trace would you leave for others to discover?

1.15pm…ish : Lunch – Borough Market. Lots of options – around 10 minutes from Tate Modern

2.15pm…ish : Check in – how are we doing?

Open to the possibilities…Have you brought something curious to explore?

Options:

The Jean Cocteau Murals
Shoreditch Graffiti
The Garden of St Dunstan
Watts’ Memorial
Walk and Talk
Sit and Think
Kind note to self
Kind note to someone else

I’ve put this draft together using a mixture of my own curiosity and imagination, past experiences and conversations, Google, and the Secret London guide. The guide is an intriguing book signposting many unusual places in and around this lovely city of ours, though as I was somewhat sniffily informed by the appropriate help desk (there’s a contradiction in terms), the listing for Henry VIII’s wine vaults hidden beneath the Ministry of Defence, should not have been included.

A truly lovely group of people have agreed to take part this year, and if this looks like a useful, enjoyable way to spend a few hours in London next Monday, there are a couple of places left, at a cost of just £36. Message me if you’d like to come and I’ll let you know how to pay and confirm your place. And don’t worry if you can’t make it, there’ll be another Leap Day along in four years time.

Curiouser and Curiouser

I was fortunate to spend time with Year 6 pupils at St Thomas’ School in West London recently. The school were having an ‘Inspire Me’ week and through my membership of the excellent Inspiring The Future network I’d agreed to go a long and give a career talk. I enjoy volunteering through Inspiring The Future – as well as career talks, there are opportunities to spend time with school children helping them with CV and interview skills. Anyone in the world of work can register to join the scheme and I encourage you to take a look – I find it fulfilling, useful, enjoyable volunteer work.

Prior to my visit – I had invited the pupils to send me questions so that I could build a talk around their interests rather than make assumptions about what they might want to hear. On arrival at the school I was given a fantastic guided tour by some of the kids and then we spent time talking about careers. There were some great questions in the mix and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

Who inspired you to achieve the career you have now?

Mum Joe Strummer

 

I talked about my Mum and how first and foremost she always encouraged me to be myself. I told the kids that I try hard to live up to that encouragement and I often don’t come up to scratch – and that’s OK, keep trying. I spoke about Joe Strummer ( #nerdalert – the school was located very close by to where The Clash came into existence) and his strong views on anti-racism and anti-ignorance. The kids didn’t know who he was – but they knew London Calling, the London 2012 legacy lives on.

Tell us 3 cool things about your job?

I picked art, travel and making a difference. We talked together about places we’d visited and would like to visit, artists we liked and didn’t like, and what making a difference feels like.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

I really enjoyed wrestling with this question. We talked about some differences between freelancing and being employed and I pulled together a short list of things which challenge me as a freelancer:

  • Finding interesting work
  • Getting fairly and promptly paid
  • Getting stuff to stick
  • Coping with loneliness

I wonder if you recognise and experience any of these yourself?

Would you encourage young people to do what you do?

Yes – if you are curious and if you can foster a genuine interest in other people.

There were loads more questions – and some lovely unexpected twists and turns too. At one point I passed round some of my art, including a piece titled ‘Sten Guns in Knightsbridge’.

Sten Guns in Knightsbridge

A discussion ensued about the colours in the flag, and other changes I’d made to the design, and the questions asked took us off in all kinds of unexpected directions. There was a real buzz of curiosity in the room – that was a lovely thing to experience.

A few days before this career talk, Carole and I had visited Keira’s school for parent’s evening, and the thing that stood out to us both among all the feedback we received, was how much the teachers appreciated and encouraged curiosity in Keira. I often experience a lack of curiosity in the world of work, which seems to be driven by assumptions that ‘someone else knows best’ and ‘it’s not safe to speak up around here’. A few weeks into one of the first jobs I had as an office junior, I was called into the MDs office and told that I was asking too many questions about things that weren’t my job, and that I was to stop and simply do as I was instructed. I left that job shortly after, and while I don’t recall experiencing such direct instructions to stop being curious since then, encouraging genuine curiosity is definitely something we continue to struggle with at work.

Curiouser and curiouser…