Sensibility was a three-day disability arts festival in Birmingham that showcased the contributions and connections to arts and creativity of sixty deafblind and disabled people. It brought together a diverse audience from all over the country, to celebrate and share a unique experience.
For years, Sense has been supporting people with sensory impairments and complex communication needs to be creative through arts workshops that explore everything from painting, to using vibrating backpacks to experience sounds.
With our new Birmingham-based multi-purpose venue, TouchBase Pears, there’s now a permanent space for artists and disabled people to come together and collaborate in new creative ways, including an arts festival taking place in May.
Five young people with sensory impairments experienced a week-long musical extravaganza in August, enjoying sound and sensory theatre at our Summer Music Making Project in Coventry. The creative project, which was a collaboration with theatre company Talking Birds, saw the group explore acoustic and electronic sounds, play, listen and ‘feel’ music, and set sail on a sing-along sensory boat ride.
Sense had the opportunity to host Laura SanKey , a second year student, from the University of Leeds , studying Theatre and Performance on a volunteer placement during April 2016.
Laura wanted to gain experience facilitating workshops with Sense participants to further her career in Sensory Theatre. The aim of the workshop was to create an immersive setting, exploring elements from the chosen theme of outer space”.
Her work is very much influenced by the role of the senses, focusing on this area within her studies. The exploration of the senses, during the workshop, enabled it to be accessible for all – engaging both staff and participants to form a new theatrical experience . Her work incorporates the use of sign, with a strong focus on group work and the capability of each individual using lights, tactile engagements, silhouettes and mirroring.
Testimonial from Laura
The responses from the participants were incredibly positive, with some rewarding results from many deafblind individuals, especially those who were not known for active engagement. I look forward to working with Sense in the near future.
Testimonial from Jess Evans – Arts Facilitator
The guys really enjoyed it, well done Laura!
As part of the Creative Black Country fund, Sense had the fantastic opportunity to work with Jon Williams – the flying potter, from Eastnor Pottery. Eight Sense participants had the chance to create ceramic artworks and develop their skills as a potter.
As founder of Eastnor Pottery, Jon has years of experience delivering inclusive workshops, and delivered three bespoke workshops for Sense participants. The first workshop took place at Eastnor Pottery next to Ledbury. The other two workshops happened at Sense’s community resource centre, The Garden Room, in Smethwick.
In all three workshops, participants created pieces on the potter wheel and by freehand. Jess Evans from The Garden Room also helped with the expert facilitation by offering 1:1 support in the workshop for whoever needed it. The end creations will be exhibited in the Garden Room and will be a part of the ‘I Know I Can’t See But I Still Look’ exhibition, in collaboration with Glenn Howells Architects.
“The workshops have been a real success. You can tell from the way people are smiling and laughing aloud when joining in ”
“It’s been really great for our group to come along to the workshops. It’s been fab to see the positive impact coming to a new studio has had and the amount of time people have engaged with the activity.”
“I’ve had such fun working with Sense. The three sessions have been brilliant, with full-on engagement from the participants and staff. The energy and joy throughout has been truly palpable.
Everybody, without exception was able to access the clay in their own special way, with some of the guys displaying massive concentration and dedication.
I was particularly moved by the expressions of pride exhibited by participants as they scooped their freshly thrown, and very precious first-time pots from the potter’s wheel – proper magic moment!
We have produced some cracking collaborative and individual work which I’m sure, once fired and presented to the makers, will give a further boost to participant’s well being and sense of achievement. It’s been a privilege for sure.”