Alex Vann from Real Arts Workshops (RAW) was delighted to get the call from Heather Wastie from Alarum Productions, to add British Sign Language and subtitles to the film of her wonderful poem ‘Histrionic Water’.
Alex is hearing and signs to level 6 and sometimes does communication support work in education and has previously added BSL to films and live performances. However, when it came to this project he asked his partner in business and in life, Gary O’Dowd, to do the signing. This is because the words of the poem are so expressive and visual that it made sense for a native Deaf BSL user to perform the poem.
Most people who have studied BSL will quickly learn that it isn’t just about doing things with your hands and arms. Rather, it uses the whole body to communicate and in particular facial expressions and it was felt that a Deaf signer would convey this with maximum authenticity.
When it came to translating ‘Histrionic Water’, it was vital to Alex and Gary that a Deaf audience should understand what it meant. It wouldn’t do just to translate the English straight into hand gestures, like others forms of communication, for example Makaton and Sign Supported English. It had to go further and tell the story and almost act it so that a Deaf audience would understand not just the words but the meaning. Alex and Gary worked on translating the poem on paper first, and Gary practiced and practiced until the poem flowed.
Filming was problematic because Gary obviously can’t hear the poem so Alex had to use hand signals and pointing to sections of the poem off camera. Even then – trying to match the timing of the spoken word was near impossible. So they shot it in small sections, in front of a greenscreen, and Alex had the unenviable task of ‘stitching’ the pieces together in video editing software to match the film of the poem. There are some fades between the signed sections because one thing BSL must do is flow – and not jump from one sign to another.
Initial feedback from Deaf audiences is very encouraging:
Alex Vann from RAW said:
We love working in collaborations with other organisations and artists so when Heather got in touch about this project we were very excited. One of our key values as a business is inclusion so making a film Deaf accessible is right up our street. We hope Heather’s film is a huge success and that we get to work together again in future.
We were delighted to get funding support from the City of Wolverhampton to provide online art and craft activities for young people aged 10-16 as part of their February Half Term #WVVirtualSquad offer.
We did a wide variety of accessible activities that saw them creating 3D cardboard sculpture, air dry clay modelling, origami paper crafts, drawings, paintings, T-shirt designs, and pop art landscapes among many other creative things.
There were sessions every day of the holidays and we provided 3 extra sessions in the evenings for 13-16 year olds, who learnt about more advanced art techniques. Art packs were made up and delivered to families in the week before the live sessions. These included all the resources required to do the projects together with a step by step workbook about each art challenge for those who weren’t able to join all the live sessions.
Photo Gallery of work created
Alex Vann from RAW said: “We had a really great time leading this project and hope to do similar sessions in future as we consider the Arts to be beneficial in many ways and especially during times of lockdown”.
What the Young People said:
MONDAY 15th Feb
A compilation of some of the stand out moments of 2020 for RAW (Real Arts Workshops).
We adapted our business in the face of a global pandemic and were able to reach many people with our (now largely online) workshops.
We are grateful that our staff and volunteers remained fit and well and hope that the Arts will be recognised as one of the heroes of 2020 in terms of people's sense of wellbeing. It has been so for us.
We wish all our Facebook followers a Happy New Year and hope that 2021 is a year of sustained growth for everyone.
Now, so long 2020!
We were pleased to be commissioned by City of Wolverhampton Council to deliver innovative art sessions over October Half Term to young people aged 10-16 who live in the city as part of the #WVVirtualSquad offer. These had to be run differently from our Summer sessions, when face to face sessions were possible, because of the second national lockdown.
Having already delivered many virtual art session to adults and to Deaf groups using the video conference apps: Zoom and MS Teams, and organising delivery of individual ‘art packs’ it was a case of using that experience to put a programme of Arts activity and learning materials together that not only encouraged fun but also stretched abilities and knowledge. As well as daytime activities aimed at younger children, we delivered evening sessions of more advanced art techniques for teenagers and made use of the ‘RAW CAM’ – a separate ‘spotlighted’ device aimed at an art demonstration piece.
'Zoom' screen shots
As you can see, the quality of work the young people created is amazing. Well done!
Here's what the young people said:
Thank you for all your hard work and effort . I have really enjoyed this and will definitely be back to join you guys again !!!! I had a wonderful half term being part if Real art club x. Thanks again to you all!!!! 🎃🤗🤗🤗
We are a highly visual company and like the idea of showing information in easy to understand and accessible ways.
Therefore we have worked with our sister company https://www.alexvanndesign.co.uk/ to produce a series of 'infographics' that sum up some important information about the Arts in general, the impact of mental health issues and benefits of partaking in arts practices and learning British Sign Language, shown below:
Feel free to share these on your own channels.
Investors in People
Arts Council report
Pleased to share this video looking back one year to this important and impactful art exhibition.
One year ago, RAW co-curated the 'Support Life' art exhibition at which featured 32 amazing Wolverhampton / Black Country artists.
We've made a short 'recap' video as it seems this issue is more pertinent than ever in light of Covid 19 and its impact on individuals, communities, jobs, livelihoods & hopes for the future.
Please feel free to share and #BeKind to each other.
#SupportLife #SuicidePrevention #ArtIsWork #GivingPeopleACreativeVoice
Please see the image below for our September newsletter - you can click the PDF file too, if you view in Acrobat Reader you can click the weblinks to find out more. Happy reading!
Our Summer Programme for City of Wolverhampton Council
We had a great experience over the 6 weeks summer holidays, delivering our "Summer Art Activities" programme for City of Wolverhampton Council's #WVHolidaySquad and #YES -Youth Engagement Strategy.
We designed and delivered a wide variety of art and craft activities for young people 10-16 and were totally blown away by the quality of work.
A few photos...
Our programme was delivered in two Covid 19 secure venues: 2 weeks at The Workspace, All Saints and 4 weeks at The Way Youth Zone. We observed the government guidelines for performing arts which also covers art groups like ours and are pleased to report no cases of Covid 19. This includes providing separate resource packs so there is no sharing of resources, social distancing and frequent hand washing among other things. Credit has to go to the young people who worked with enthusiasm throughout and were very sensible in observing these measures.
We reached many young people who were referred via Strengthening Families Hubs throughout the city. These young people were from different ethnic backgrounds; White British, Asian, Pakistani, Arab, Eastern European and Black Afro Caribbean.
A few more photos...!
We delivered some British Sign Language training along the way - in a fun and accessible way - WITH PRIZES!!
Your New Normal. My Normal
When we heard about the Common Ground project called “Your New Normal, My Normal”, organised by Changing Our Lives and funded by the Co-Op Foundation, about tackling loneliness in young people we did a couple of workshops with the young people and entered some of their work for the project. A judging panel chose not one but FOUR pieces of work by the young people which is currently in an online exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. We think exhibitions are a great way to celebrate the successes of people and go some way to building confidence in skills knowing that there is an audience for their work. Here is the link to the exhibition; https://www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/changingourlives/
Pom-Poms 4 Loneliness
We were delighted to link up with Pom-Poms 4 Loneliness during this project.
Pom-Poms 4 Loneliness is dedicated to the distribution of home made pom poms in and around the Black Country. Each pom-pom represents a lonely or isolated person and by 'Pom-Bombing' they raise awareness about the situation that can face anyone. Our young people spent a day making pom-poms which they donated to the cause!
Yet more pics....!
We think they have all did incredibly well and have had the opportunity to try many different art forms and find their 'niche'. We received some lovely feedback:
We’d like to thank Wolverhampton City Council for funding this project and OnBoard Corrugated for donating cardboard for our group to use.
Special thanks to our volunteers Wayne, Sarah, Rachel, Sandra and Olivia who made this all possible, and our BSL interpreters Mad and Jemma
Here’s just a few of the things we did:
Please find the first edition of our newsletter below. It's been a busy old time at RAW HQ and we plan to produce these newsletters regularly to keep you informed about what we are doing and how you might be able to access our service.
Alex Vann is an all round creative. He formed RAW in 1997 out of a University project and restarted it in 2018 after working as a graphic designer for agencies and in-house for many years.