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May 19, 2023

BLOG: Weaving in Wellbeing

In this series of blogs, our Creative Programmes Coordinator Sunny Townsend, brings a novel perspective to the work of Albatross Arts and the ways to capture the power of the creative arts on well-being.

As an introduction to the work of Albatross Arts and the impact they have, I’ve joined a block of weaving workshops. Weaving is such an onomatopoeic word. So many satisfying metaphors to be spun!

What stood out to me in the workshop this week was Alex weaving in many different coloured threads of wellbeing. There is creativity and making in any art workshop, but Alex’s wellbeing weaving is much more than that. So here I share my observations, just from one single hour workshop.

The science bit first though… I have been asked to think about how to measure the impact of Albatross Arts workshops on participants. I have a quantitative research background where you often test a ‘null hypothesis’. This is a useful but pessimistic concept, put into this context the null hypothesis might take the form: Albatross Art workshops have no effect on the wellbeing of their participants.

How do we test this hypothesis? Alex is an evidence-based practitioner – she uses proven methods that research has already shown have impact. But how do we convincingly evidence effects within the context of a 6-week block or even a single workshop?

Not sure of the answer yet but collecting empirical data such as observations is a part of it, and for now it’s just so moving to observe.

We started with the free writing exercise again. Alex gave a brilliant explanation to the group of why it is beneficial. I used the writing as a chance to check into how I was feeling as I often forget to do that.

 

 

We then got to our looms, and Alex explained the benefits “using your hands, you’re calming your brain”. She has provided us with a mini-loom that fits in your pocket so you can weave while waiting for the bus or just because “sometimes a quick win is all you need”.

Alex craft-fully intertwines it all together and checks in on everyone but leaves plenty of space for participants to connect. One shared that she was unusually not sleep deprived because her very noise-sensitive child actually slept through the night for once! This led to a discussion around medicines that might help.

Another said it was “a safe space on zoom with you lot”. There was also peer support for one weaver who cried last week when her loom unthreaded.

Alex is funny and calm, and handles the troublesome or emotional moments “Are you less spaghetti?” when one weaver got in a tangle, and then skilfully linking back to the wellbeing “unraveling and raveling a ball of wall is therapeutic…. it’s making sense of chaos… and doing something with your hands”.

From joining just two of Albatross Arts workshops, I want to reject the null hypothesis! And with that I will take my weave…

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