Workshop 5: Summarising Lessons Learned from CopeWell with Art: A UCL, JEDelve & ARTSMH Collaboration

After the nature walk, the JEDelve team along with the young people gathered back at the IOE Drama Studio for our fifth and final workshop – how time flies! This last workshop of the series was another key theme identified from our initial focus group interview: art! Young people expressed that they found solace in creating art and being active. Thus, after the active nature walk of Workshop 4, a more chilled creative art session was planned for the young people AND the UCL team to co-create an art piece together that summarises the lessons learned from the CopeWell project.

The art session as the final workshop session was an idea that our PI Dr. Keri came up with right after the focus group interview. What did we do exactly? The intention was for the UCL team and young people to come together to create a tangible, collective art piece that they could take pieces of and bring home after the session as a momento of the CopeWell Study. When this idea was introduced, it reminded me of the Gestalt principle: the whole is greater than the sum. Without all the pieces, the image could not be created, but each individual had a role to play.

With this idea in mind (and none of the RAs being exceptionally artistic), Dr. Keri reached out to the Arts for Mental Health (ARTSMH) team of which Keri is the supervisor for. ARTSMH is a student-led non-profit organisation founded by IOE student Aiko Leung and lead by other UCL/IOE undergraduates. The organisation aims to make art and mental health resources accessible to all.

This stencil was designed by ARTSMH based on 3 of the programme workshop themes, namely: future career, story-telling and self-care. This collaborative artwork draws a close to the programme while more importantly encourages the young people to draw out their future through reflecting on what they have learnt throughout the programme.

Aiko (ARTSMH co-founder)

Aiko, accepted the collaboration and helped sketch out a stencil for the final art piece. Taking inspiration from the mural outside JEDelve’s youth centre, the stencil has graphics, bold words, and key speech bubbles for the ‘artist’ to reflect on what the CopeWell Study workshops mean to them.

The collaborative artwork is an integration of 20 individual canvases, with some canvases including provided images while some are blank spaces for reflection. The incorporation of both free-style reflective space and guidelines symbolises the programme’s goal: Through our guidance, we hope that these young people have turned what they have seen and experienced into their own unique goals. We hope that they have learnt how powerful they could be and may their dreams guide them into a bright future of their choices.

Aiko (ARTSMH co-founder)

The young people were really impressed by the stencil and the inclusion of both the JEDelve logo and the UCL logo. Some of the young people were relieved that they only had to paint in the stencil rather than having to come up with their own stencil, while others were excited at the prospect of creating their own designs.

Looking at these young people filling in colours, I was amazed by their unspoken talent in art. From their final work, I could see their dreams and memories formed at UCL were vividly and passionately expressed.

Weiyi (ARTSMH)

The young people were very active and even claimed “dibs” on the pieces that they wanted to work on. For the blank designs, the young people were encouraged to capture ‘moments’ from the CopeWell workshops visually. This can be seen in the ‘umbrella’ and the ‘rain’ (it rained on both visits to UCL). There were also nods to speakers from the previous workshops who encouraged the young people to speak out and tell their stories.

Before and After the Young People filled in the stencil with their creativity!

Looking at the before and after of the stencil, it was great to see everything come together and have all the completed pieces in one place.

Team UCL and JEDelve wrapping up the workshop!

It was amazing to see everyone just came together and organise themselves organically. The young people took ownership of their individual canvas – personalising it – but also consulted with their friends on how they’ve painted the neighbouring tile by sharing colour the same colour palette and patterning. I designed this painting session to bring everyone together with a shared end goal of creating a single piece of art, whilst allowing each young person to express their voice and personality through each tile as well. This team creation is now hung up in youth club!

Dr Keri Wong (PI, CopeWell Study)
Young people and UCL researcher’s reflections of the CopeWell Study Partnership

To end the workshop series, we asked for some feedback. As it was expressed by the young people that they didn’t wish to fill in another booklet at the beginning and the end of the workshops, especially when some young people did not enjoy writing, we came up with a slightly more ‘creative’ method to capture their feedback.

We gave speech bubble post-its to young people to feedback on three broad questions:

1) how the workshops have changed them (if at all),

2) one thing they will remember about us by, and

3) what they learnt.

We’ll be taking into account all of the feedback collected to date. And we also plan on returning back to the youth centre to hear more of their thoughts on the workshops in July!

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