Workshops and helping others (Week 8 Reflection)

Anticipating the workshop activity for this module, and knowing that (i) it would fall at a time when postgraduate and undergraduate students are on vacation and (ii) that this would be a particularly busy period in terms of travel and other activities, I arranged to do some workshops earlier in the year. I have also been able to plan workshops with children and adults over the next three months, and these will be central to my work on the FMP.

For the MA Urban Planning students at the UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), I conducted a 3 hour workshop on using photography in the exploration of the impact of urban regeneration on residents, and followed this up with accompanying two groups on their fieldwork (one to explore spaces for women at the Feminist Library and the other to explore the impact of housing development in the Thames Ward in Barking).

At the workshop I presented different ways that photographers have engaged with urban development and examples of my own work. The workshop included group activities (I asked people to bring 5 images that gave a sense of the area in which they lived to discuss, and we did some planning on how the students might use photography in their own projects). The presentation for the session is below.

BASc Object Lessons group at the Grant Museum

For the UCL Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) module Object Lessons, I contributed to workshops on engagement with objects and artefacts from museums, galleries and special collections, worked with students on making photographs of the objects they were working with, and participated in the assessment of student group presentations (on the creation of an online themed exhibition).

For my project, I have been running informal workshops with community and activist groups on working with and making images. Over the past few weeks, I have been giving small cheap digital cameras to people to use to take photographs of the area they live and how it is changing, and then working with them on the images (one person took 400 pictures in two days). I will be running a four day workshop for 7 to 11 year olds over the coming two weeks as part of a community centre summer programme on a local estate, and in September I’ll be starting a series of workshops in two schools, exploring the lived experiences of school students, how the area is changing and their hopes and aspirations.

Formal and informal feedback has been good. Running workshops has helped me to scrutinise and develop my own practice, as well as giving insights into the experiences and perspectives of the groups I am working with. It has been particularly insightful to teach/learn in a range of formal and informal settings, and with groups of different age and different experiences. As with most teaching, I’ve probably learnt more than the people I’ve been teaching.

For my project, I am thinking about how the images made by participants in these workshops will feature in the outcomes of the project, and the ethical and attribution issues that this raises.