Wednesday, 30 March 2011

There's no consultant in team


Unless you're in a team of consultants.  As creative partnerships draws to an end, more people in my team are calling themselves creative consultants.  I guess some people think of me as a consultant too, but there is something about it which has always made me uncomfortable.

We are 'creative agents', experienced creative professionals who are highly skilled in working in educational settings, acting as a 'critical friend' to schools.  But if a consultant is a professional who provides professional or expert advice (wiki), what's the difference?


As Creative Partnerships ends, so will the term 'creative agent', so what can I call myself so people know what I do?

First off, what does a consultant, or consultancy, look like?  Well, according to google image search, it's either something to do with a missing jigsaw piece, or two strong, white, masculine, suited hands shaking.

A consultant is someone you call on when you have a problem.  Maybe in a recession, one of the best businesses to be in is consultancy.  Consultants are brought in to research or solve a problem, but generally have no actual responsibility to implement the change advised.


That's what I am most uncomfortable with - consultants are not part of any team.  Even though I have been mostly self-employed now for a long time, I need to feel part of a group, team, whatever.  That's why I'm going back to calling myself 'Community Art Worker', even if Community is not a popular term anymore.  Truth is, it never really has been.  


Derived from 'common' its usage dates back to the middle ages, meaning simply 'those who share'.  As with common, it has been associated with ''normality', 'vulgarity', 'inferiority' and 'of low social status' (OED).  Google images of community are of people, lots of people, colour and loads of hands holding (not shaking), jigsaw pieces (clearly a lot of jigsaw fans out there), the odd wheelchair, bike, and not a middle-aged suited banker in sight.


Even in 1970s, the heyday for 'community art', it was seen as, 'a kind of folksy Marxism' (J. Pick, 1980).  Pick goes on to say community art workers 'use the means of expression excluded by too haughty definitions of the 'arts'.  In this the word community returns to its former meaning, that of purposeful amateur activity.'


Socially responsible, sharing, amateur - doing it for the love of it.  I feel like I'm getting back to words I can happily stick my name to.  It's cheesy in buckets, and I'm not so keen being called 'average', 'vulgar' or 'inferior', but at least I'm not a consultant.
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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Dress to Impress

It's Friday night, and I've popped out of my wife's birthday party for twenty minutes and come back with a well dressed mannequin under my arm.  I knew I would get all clever comments, 'found a younger model?'...so on, but couldn't risk leaving her in the pub car park where we leave our car.

Arthur and Jago also want to pose with the dress
The dress is made entirely from reused and recycled materials, mostly plastic bags, and is one of several stunning outfits made by students from Selly Park Technology College for Girls.  It is clearly labelled promoting our fashion show in June - Nikki's fortieth party was an impromptu venue, one of many to come, where the outfit has and will be admired.

I had just picked it up from the University of Birmingham Fair Fashion Show, the last event in a series they have run throughout fairtrade fortnight.  A group from Selly Park Technology College  had taken a backstage tour and interviewed the organisers and models earlier that day, including the maker of the dress.  While we were there, a couple of people visiting the universit show posed with the mannequin and took photos - excellent that among all the dresses and outfits of the university students, our dress had been spotted, and the maker was there to see it!

The dress will next be appearing in the shop window of the People shop on Poplar road, then at several events to celebrate 100 years of the school, and be worn as part of the Fashion Show the college is arranging later this year.  Allison Sadler owns the shop with her partner, Christian, and is working with students at Selly Park to run their own fashion show.

Early draft of fashion show logo
Earlier in the week I accompanied Jude Thomas from CCE (who funds our funders, Creative Partnerships) to visit Selly Park and to talk to some of the staff and students there.  Another mannequin is, of course, waiting in the reception to greet visitors.  We have a conversation with several confident young people, each able to describe the project clearly, its aims, and demonstrate how much the young people are making decisions on our show in collaboration with teaching staff and creative practitioners (as well as making the dresses and hats).

The dress demonstrates the skills and creativity of the young people involved, and the teaching staff and creative practitioner working with them.  More than that, where the mannequins visit are a physical presence, in school and elsewhere, valuing our young people, their work and values (the students have chosen to explore recycling and sustainability in their outfits) both in and outside the school.  Look out for a mannequin near you.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Thank you so much Katy for my first blog award:

I couldn't help spending a good couple of hours researching what exactly it was, and chuffed to be a part of it all. I have:

1) Create a post on my blog and add the Liebster blog image.

2) Link back to the person who gave me the award and say if  I accept.

3) Chosen 3-5 of my favourite blogs, linked to these in my post and told lucky bloggers that they've been tagged.

The aim of this award is to bring lesser known but good blogs to light (lucky bloggers, please tag bloggers with less than 300 followers).
Following the grand lineage of my award - through a range of Mum bloggers, quilters, a few artists, back to a range of nail and makeup artists in Germany, late December 2010 - furthest back I got was http://tinnymey.blogspot.com/, unless I made fatal click error, and my blog lineage is a sham...Anyone actually figure out where this award started, please let me know.

I also had to do random survey of blogs on blogger (next blog, next blog, so on).  Firstly I was surprised how few work or business related sites there were, and how many blog entries feelin' the love of the blog, about family, all about me, my suffering, my faith, so on.  A bit like the intro and end to 'Love Actually', where sometimes you focus so much on the money grabbing, fearful, brutal world, you miss the other bits.

Also made me realise just how many small blogs I miss out on (and need to start following - thanks again Katy - great blogs you're following, and you'd be on list if you weren't already a Liebster).  Anyway, I would like to nominate the following blogs for a Liebster Blog:

http://frogphilp.blogspot.com/ - teacher journeying through creativity and stuff

http://lovekingsheath.co.uk/  - a newish local site for local people

http://ictelt.blogspot.com/ - ICT enhanced learning from Hazel in New Zealand

http://helgahenry.com/blog - Work to your heart's content

http://www.archivesnext.com/ - What comes next in archives