Artist Sian Watson Taylor delivered a 5 day residency at The Beacon Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services unit as part of the Children’s Hospital School. Sian Watson Taylor was brought in as the school were keen to explore messy art practices, mostly with a visual arts basis. The unit has restrictions on some materials going onto the ward, particularly sharps, and as such Sian has carefully curated a handful of sessions alongside teaching and clinical staff to ensure risk assessments have been conducted. Observations have to be conducted without a notebook, or camera to hand, so as not to exacerbate any paranoia around recording of behaviours present in some of the young people currently attending. Session 1 focussed on explorations of dried flowers, air drying clay, chalk, food colouring and essential oils, developed to match with the interests of current young people, and future sessions will explore scrapbooking and poetry as additional interests. Sian is delivering sessions in person, as the clinical procedures of the ward allow this, and also developing extension activities for staff to explore outside of sessions.
The first session was well attended by 4 young people, 3 of whom stayed for the entire activity, and each young person was given space and time to find their own way into exploring the materials, with each young person taking very different paths in defining and developing an end product that they wanted to create. Teaching staff commented that the engagement was very good
for the first session of any activity, and also that this felt like a very different art activity for them. 5 teaching and clinical staff came into the session at separate points, and each were drawn into finding out about the activity.