TAS Holiday Workshops, July 2013 – Southern Midlands Council

This was an all-day workshop with a busload of kids from the outlying rural areas north of Hobart, as part of the Southern Midlands Council school holiday program.  Greg Hunt and his devoted crew do an amazing job of providing these kids with opportunities & experiences that they might not otherwise access.  Many of these kids are from farms & have a whole different take on the world.  I grew up in a remote rural community myself so I can relate – country kids are often more energetic, self-assertive and physical, so keeping this big mob focused on drawing silly pictures all day was a challenge!

We all converged on Hobart PCYC and spilled into the basketball court where the workshops were to happen.  Happy chaos ensued as we pulled some tables & chairs out of thin air while a herd of excited children threw basketballs around the place, chased each other among the tables & bounced off the walls in general!  There’s something exhilarating about those moments of buzziness before a workshop – I like the “not knowing how it’s going to come together”!

First session was with the whole group, and we warmed up a very random drawing of a frocked punk having a tanty (don’t ask – I don’t know!).

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Next I steered in a more conventional direction by mixing three suggestions – penguin flying on an icicle + aeroplane, which helped lighten the mood, despite murmurs of dissent from a few boys who obviously did NOT want to draw (more on that later……)

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After this quick burst, Greg took half the group into the gym next door, where some of the local young constabulary helped them burn off some energy, while the other half (mostly girls) stayed for the next round of cartooning.  There were some sparky imaginations in this group, and our next drawing combined lamb dancing on a haybale / monkey holding open the jaws of a crocodile!  There were some especially creative girls in this group, and some hilarious stories – one girl revealed that her goat had eaten her yoga mat…there’s got to be a cartoon in that!

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After this little frolic, everyone was ravenous, and the crew cooked up a mountain of sausages & vegie burgers out on the BBQ – delicious!  Then it was time for the second group, who were mostly boys, and many of them really not interested.  This is always a great opportunity to be honest with them, and to adapt my approach to whatever is going to connect with them.  I’ve worked a lot with disengaged boys, I understand their behaviors, and aside from that, I dont expect EVERYONE to want to draw – and I tell them as much.  So after we had a chat, I started off the session with the simple flipbook idea I often use in my workshops – something that was immediate, hands-on, and that they could have ownership of straight away.  This broke the ice, and we spent the rest of the session drawing one of their suggestions – and so appropriate from a farm culture perspective – a Cane Toad Eating Queensland!  We all ended the day on a high note – thanks so much Greg & crew from Southern Midlands Council, and of course the awesome kids!

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