Slowly does it for Can Doers
Thomas is our Digital Marketing volunteer. Here he talks about one of our Can Do projects which focused on how looking at objects and artwork for longer than the usual few seconds may alter one’s perception.
Have you ever taken the time just to look? Time can fly by, or we can just be sat clock watching. However, when Leonard Cheshire collaborated with the British Museum, the fast-paced society of quick selfies and instant updates took a break for Slow Art Day.
We worked with a group of nine young people with an interest in art and social media that wanted to challenge the social norms of quick glances by looking at objects for longer than the usual few seconds.
The ‘Can Doers’ quickly learnt that the longer they looked at an object, their perception deepened around what it was, how it was used or what the maker’s intentions might have been.
Working with the British Museum
The Can Do Project is a skills development programme for individuals aged 16-35 with a disability or long-term health condition run by Leonard Cheshire.
With the lockdown restrictions in place over the past year, the Can Do sessions have been run via Zoom calls and Microsoft Teams. Intending to teach the participants, there has been information about well-being, online safety, and new experiences like yoga, fitness, poetry, and collaborations with museums and zoos. The sessions have been both informative and a lot of fun in the process! They ran all over the country pre-lockdown, but their virtual nature meant more participants from disparate parts of the UK could participate.
The British Museum explores the extraordinary diversity of human cultures. It can range from small communities to vast empires, discovering the many forms and expressions human beings have given to every aspect of life. It helps you realize how closely they are interconnected. It is in Central London, making it a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It is one of the most visited museums in the UK, with around six million people enjoying the collection each year (pre-covid).
Our Slow Art project
The British Museum’s ‘Slow Art Can Do’ project encouraged the Can Doers to step back and take a long look at objects within the museum for a prolonged period and to observe their shapes, contours and colours.
Then Can Doers gave their opinion on what they believed the objects were used for. Afterwards, a brief history about the object was given to spark further discussions. This is an important aspect to learn about. Especially with the future becoming more digital, time is often spent looking at screens rather than the world around us.
The Can Doers learnt that taking longer than usual to look at objects can give a greater depth of knowledge and understanding. Discussing an object can also help us further by hearing someone else’s perception of a shared image.
Taking the time to look at the world heightens our connection to nature and allows a chance for our senses to run wild. This is especially beneficial as the UK’s Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease and the Can Doers return to a changed world, with a higher appreciation of what had been off-limits for the last year.
Working with The Keiken Collective
Throughout the week, the Can Doers learnt about a wide variety of objects featured in the British Museum. They were asked to choose their favourite object and create a short presentation about it.
The Keiken Collective worked with the group to develop object reveal Instagram filters and created their own digital postcards using 3D scanned museum objects on Sketchfab. This took inspiration from the fact that the British Museum has been selling postcards for over one hundred years. On 10 April, in celebration of Slow Art Day, the group of nine presented their projects. The presentations were performed at home, then played to the group, Leonard Cheshire’s Deborah Sciortino and the British Museum’s Jessica Starns.
The sessions ran over five days and included topics such as equality and diversity, employability skills, helping visitors to make sense of their visit to the museum, and online safety on social media with support from Leonard Cheshire’s Digital Marketing team. The latter took the form of a brief slide show packed full of safety tips, with a safe space to ask questions.
The British Museum immensely enjoyed the experience of working with the Can Doers and being able to explore ‘slow-looking’ with digital tools and an enthusiastic group. Learning from the programme will be taken forward and fed into future activities.
The museum has an extensive volunteer programme. Information about possible volunteer roles is available on the Museum website.