In collaboration with the South West Cleft Service and as part of the extended cleft arts project, novel wax facial sculpture workshops led by Simon Hall took place at the Island Gallery in Bristol (2016) for individuals with cleft lip and/or palate. Guided by the skilled tuition of internationally renowned sculptor Eleanor Crook, alongside depth of support from the cleft unit psychologists, this exciting opportunity allowed a fun and hands-on approach for individuals with cleft lip and/or palate to explore their thoughts on appearance, identity and the body in a visually creative and supportive manner.
By facilitating an environment of small group work with peers, participants were offered close interaction with psychologists to facilitate conversation within an environment aiming to nuture collaboration, a sense of belonging and sharing of experiences.
The provision of unusual opportunities through arts activities enabling service users to step beyond a superficial engagement with health professionals may introduce creatives space generating novel outcomes and discourse which can be usefully channelled back into the service and inform of theirs needs. By embracing such an experimental process, and ensuring participant diversity is a core stem respected and acknowledged throughout, interdisciplinary arts practice may provide a useful strategy to engage, inspire and challenge.
The workshops aimed to allow participants a creative forum to explore their individual narratives and opportunities for reflection on their personal development growing up with cleft lip and/or palate.
Whilst the sessions imparted basic knowledge of facial anatomy and skills in using modelling wax, the workshops also introduced abstraction through craft and melted wax - acting as a stimulus to promote discussion, fun, expression and a feeling of inclusivity.
“ I have really enjoyed the workshop and wish we could have more “
“ It is so interesting to learn about how the muscles in the face fit together “