I have been working with Jane Henderson to plan a series of 4 workshops for young people taking place during the Spring exhibition, On Balance, by Jacob Dahlgren.
At such an early stage, without seeing the work in the gallery, it is difficult for Jane to plan what she will do in the sessions. This in turn creates a problem for me, as I need to publicise the workshops to potential participants. We had initially decided to aim the sessions at Years 8 and 9 (roughly 13-14 year olds), as they will be happening in April/May, when older students will be sitting GCSE exams. But when it came to drafting the copy for Fabrica’s information boards we decided to broaden the age range to 13-16 year olds. These are the first workshops I’ve run at Fabrica which are open to ‘the general public’ (i.e. not a group coming via school or college) and I really don’t know what kind of take-up we will get from young people, so it seems pointless, and a bit arbitrary, to limit the group to 13-14 year olds.
I heard from Jane a couple of weeks ago – she told me she was really concerned that she wasn’t having any ideas regarding the workshops… maybe I should think of finding another artist to work with. I tried to allay her fears, which I have complete sympathy for, and which I think are a measure of her professionalism, her seriousness about her work.
I told Jane that I have asked her to do these sessions because I know she’s the right person for the job. These are actually the same words Liz Whitehead (Fabrica co-director) has said to me on various occasions. I think it’s important to get this kind of endorsement sometimes, especially as an artist working with ideas and values that can seem intangible.
Remembering back to when Jane asked me what the aims of the workshops were, I think an important value for Fabrica is ‘process over outcome’ – I am more interested in there being an authentic, meaningful process at work than producing an outcome at any cost. (But in any case, I think you are more likely to produce a good outcome if the process is sound.)