Thursday, 15 February 2018

Babies and a Big Black Pig


At 7.45 on Monday morning I left our little house, packed one of the sketchbooks we made last week, and set off all excited (and just a little nervous), ready to begin the first official sketching day of my residency. We were visiting a pre-school, daycare centre. I was imagining lots of little-people running about in a very un-sketchable way and was ready for it to be quite a challenge…



If you remember, the research project I'm sketching is about Work Design which, put simply, is how the systems and environments we work in effect our happiness and well-being. The idea is to interview and sketch different workers in as many varied workplaces as possible. It's going to be fun (not least, having licence to be that nosy).


This particular daycare centre was chosen partly because it has a good reputation for creativity and an unusually relaxed approach. When we arrived, the researcher and myself did a walk-round, getting a feel for the place, then I set myself up in one corner of the huge outdoor play area, to paint an impression, helping set the scene for the interviews. 

I couldn’t believe how peaceful the place was. Apparently, there were over 100 babies and toddlers there, but you wouldn’t have known it. I had been prepared for screaming, fingers in my paints, pee on the floor... It was nothing like that at all. The children were all happily toddling about and there were almost no tears all morning.


The first interview was with ‘H’, who works with the youngest children: a male carer in an extremely female-dominated job. This was another reason why we were there: the researcher was interested in how that made him feel, not just while he was at work, but also when he told other people what he did for a living. But H was totally relaxed about the issue and clearly really happy in his work. I was so pleased I was able to capture something of his 'chilled' attitude from his body language and it was great that he did the whole thing with the baby in his lap - a good indication of how comfortable the children feel with him.


I captured a few other babies too, in their cute, matching sun-hats (though I had to be quick). I also made sure that I sketched the ducks, as well as the HUGE black pig, called Macca (who the children clearly love), because we discovered from the interviews that interaction with nature is a very important part of the ethos of the centre.



The sketch above was another of the children's carers, who we interviewed in the sandpit (an old wooden boat). It was indicative of the atmosphere of the centre, that neither member of staff for a second considered sitting indoors on a conventional chair for their interview. Which was perfect, providing the means for my paintings to convey important additional information, and with instant impact.



It was an excellent start to the residency and such fun. I managed to fill an entire 1.5 metre concertina in 3 hours. 

We rounded things off with something a bit different... 



The researcher I was working with that morning, happened to have a 2 year old of her own, who happened to have a copy of Stinky! so, to celebrate the morning's success and to say thank you to everyone at the childcare centre for letting us in and being so helpful, I finished off with a storytelling for all the toddlers. How perfect that, of all my books, it was Stinky! we had - all the children immediately recognised Macca! 

1 comment:

Sue Pownall said...

Loving your Australian adventure stories and sketches. I'm looking forward to what else the residency brings.