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  • Niamh  Lawlor
  • Phase 2, Day 5 Scissors infatuations, a new bus driver, an alien, a hedgehog and a princess.

    Created by Niamh Lawlor

Project Outline

I was surprised on arriving to find lots of empty tidy beds. Apart from some babies there were only two children on the wards. Making redundant my plan to use the long term 3 year old patient (the smile collector from last week) as an ambassador of sorts, driving through the wards with his own magic bus while I distribute `tickets` and ask them to imagine where they might like to go. Never mind, it meant he and I could be at our leisure making the bus for Freddie, his puppet, who readily accepted the new job. He is learning to use a scissors and it was nice to sit back and help him cut as much as he liked. In fact this became a theme for the day, as two other of my puppet makers (one 3, one 4 years) were also very excited by the challenge of acquiring scissors skills. The luxury of working one on one coupled with the fact that I could really give them as long as they needed today allowed me to let them cut to their heart`s content. It is interesting the focus a young child has when they are intent on learning something new, and exciting too to witness just how quickly they can do it. My bus maker also learnt quickly how to string the pipe cleaners into holes punched in card and twist them closed to make the bus. Pipe cleaners are proving an excellent dry instant attaching material, and are both attractive to the children and easy enough for them to use quite independently. Once we had made the bus, chatting and showing it off to everyone passing by as we were in the corridor again, he spent some time learning to use the camera too. My other three year old later enjoyed the same and their photos make me think I will continue encouraging them to `document` the hospital environment, it is interesting to see their different perspective. For awhile we were also joined by a grandmother and infant, and she made a simple foam bird for him.


Two new admissions came in during all this and while one of them was waiting for his bed to be ready he assisted me with the Puppet Portal Book that we have inherited from last year. Having marked him in on the map, he then stuck in some of the past week`s photos, serving to introduce him to the work. Later he made his own puppet, a hedgehog called Shotgun, who`s form was influenced a lot by his pleasure in cutting. While working with him the other new admission across the ward was looking a bit glum and bored so I gave her paper and crayons and asked her to prepare the place she wanted the bus to go to. By the time Shot gun had made a short high energy film (his owner then promptly conked out for a nap) she had created a beautiful landscape dominated by a huge pink sun. She and her mum then proceeded to make a princess to live in it, but again cutting was the real highlight of the exercise. The contrast between the two films the children made was such that I just had to edit them together afterwards, and the nice quiet day meant I had leisure to burn dvds for them and experiment a little technically myself while I was at it. She had made a purple silk bed for her orange princess and tucks her up in it at the end of the film. As I was titling it, the girl herself was wheeled by on her way to theatre, something it upsets me to witness, so as I put in zzzzz....s on screen for the little princess, I wished her a productive, deep sleep too.


Having had a little break Freddie`s owner (who had worked very hard earlier) was soon back for more and although on a previous occasion making a weblink with him had been a disaster I gave it a go again. My mentor may be somewhat responsible for this, and for my patience with scissors` infatuation, as in our last session she mentioned how surprised she had been when school children she had been working with `went crazy` when out of that environment they were allowed to play with online communication in a freer way. He is obsessed with the camera, so I thought to let him at it, and similarly let Shotgun head-butt the Vado as he was fascinated by how the image appeared and disappeared depending on how close the puppet was to the screen. Though I called a halt when he tried to beat up my puppet (there are limits even on a magic bus, in the film I have him thrown off for that ). 


So Freddie linked up with our resident musician, and her idea that puppets might like to dance to some music she was making (via cute sock puppets) worked beautifully for him, he danced along in time from the window of his bus. In a text exchange later she wondered whether we had actually heard the music she was making or some feedback, but whatever, it didn`t matter. 


Late in the afternoon I finally got a chance to work with the other child (5 years) who had been in since morning but very busy. The nurse had suggested I encourage him to work on the corridor as well to get him out of bed. He does a lot of art work at home and was delighted and very independent. Working there at the small table meant I could spread out some materials for him to choose from more organically than is possible when working directly from the trolley. After some introduction using the book he choose to make an alien sock puppet (exhibiting impeccable scissors skills in the process!). I tried to see then could we connect with Cork, as I knew they were going to the moon today, but unfortunately he had to leave for a cat scan (and we were too late anyway).


A day of a different pace, but a good one.


4 children, 1 infant , 4 puppets, 3 puppet `sets`, 9 parents, lots of staff interaction, innumerable smiles (no one was counting they were all too busy cutting stuff up)

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