Story Makers is a Fusion Arts project (2010-14) led by Arts Psychotherapist Helen Edwards, and funded by Children in Need, that is designed to support developing speech and language in 7-11 yr olds with communication needs, through engagement in the arts. The project works with selected groups of children from various Primary Schools in Oxford and also ‘Echoes’, an older adults group run by Artscape.
Story Makers runs for 12 weeks in the autumn term and each year the children are taken to a different Oxford University Museum, to find inspiration in their objects and collections and the people who have made these. They are accompanied by Teaching Assistants, a Speech and Language Therapist and volunteers, to engage imaginatively with experiments and improvisations.
Following two Museum visits the group take time to realise their ideas, to think about them together, and to make new stories through narrative and poetic word. The children explore mark making and modelling, and enact characters from their stories using costume, face painting, shadow play, dialogue and sound. This helps articulate their experiences, and in so doing, a world of curiosity and wonder is brought to life. They also work alongside the older adult group to share ideas, learning from and helping each other across the generations. The project then culminates with an exhibition at the Museum.
Story Makers supports capacity for participants to experience themselves in a new context as artists, to create, reflect, improvise and enjoy being in a creative group together. These may translate into chances for participants to build self- confidence, capacity for emotional expression and to reduce isolation from their peer groups.
Story Makers 2013-14 drew from the Museum of History of Science’s collection of measuring devices and optical instruments. Visiting groups handled and learnt about these objects by taking their own measurements and recording observations. The exhibition, Thinking Space Ways of Measuring and Seeing (10 December 2013 – End of January 2014) presented different responses to this experience, in a variety of media.