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As we started to think about how to connect with artist/makers, we quickly realized Zoom was the tool that was newest to all of us, so we started by exploring ways of using the technology and how this might work with the group. We made a few experiments and sent images of the artist team on Zoom to some of the participants who might be able to join in with an online workshop. During this process we discovered that some participants had already been accessing Zoom with other services or that the people supporting them have become familiar with it (as we all have!). This seemed to be a promising way of keeping in touch with people to supplement lower-tech methods.

This week, we tried out first group zoom session which (after some initial technical hiccups) went really well. We made sure everyone had a telephone number they could call with any technical issues, so we were able to support people with their set ups as needed. In advance of the session, we asked the makers to have with them a stick (perhaps collected from the garden) and some material to decorate it. We began the session with saying hello and giving space to everyone to respond in turn. It was fantastic to see everyone.

After the session we reflected on how the session unfolded very much like the studio day – we begin with a proposition (in this case the stick and materials) and are then led by how the makers respond. The gallery screen set up of Zoom enabled us to mirror participants and respond in the moment. For example, Christopher at one point brought an instrument and began to make a sound so then we all found things to make sounds with in response. So even though we can’t be in the studio together zoom is proving to be a useful space. In addition to the group experience, we are making plans to do more small group/pair sessions in break-out rooms on Zoom.

We’ve really enjoyed these experiments, but feel there’s still a place for lower-tech ways of keeping in touch. In another post, we’ll share some of the materials and propositions we’ve been putting together for artist/makers to receive in the mail. Personalising the communication so it works for individuals is still so important!