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  • Niamh  Lawlor
  • Week 8 Phase 2 A Snow-duck, lots of crayon-communications and a Party!

    Created by Niamh Lawlor

Project Outline

I had to walk in because of the snow, and its falling on the lid of my materials box gave me an idea, and I stopped in the hospital car park to make a snowman for the long term patient. In fact it was more of a snow duck. I waited to check it wasnt a hygiene issue before I gave it to him though, and in the meantime we made a bird and a nest together, from pipe-cleaners and an old fashioned peg. He also cut up some food for him and we hung it all on the bars of his cot. He was delighted with the snow duck and made eyes for it first with his fingers and then poking pipe-cleaners into its head, which gradually evolved into a carving process with lollipop sticks so that the duck changed form ending up as a plane, which flew into a similar story from a fortnight ago. However the plane crashed and then the game became about a hospital as one of the pieces from bird making earlier became an ambulance rescuing a lot of lollipop stick passengers. We then played a repetitive ritual-game where the patients were examined one by one by the nurse, told they were better, thanked for being good patients, and sent home in the ambulance, sirens blaring. Later this evolved into their being bold and hitting each other and being put in a pipe-cleaner jail.

The father of the next patient, also three, didnt think making something for him was a good idea, saying he doesnt show much interest in toys. However when I suggested playing him some music he said the boy did respond very well to that, his favorite being classical. I brought in the computer and played Fionnualas Africa soundtrack composed for Sally, and the boy did really seem to be listening intently. Then, as we watched, he fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle. I played it a few times just to be sure he was gone and the father asked for a copy of it saying he will bring in a cd player tomorrow. He was delighted the boy slept 

The next boy was in isolation and only 15 months and very active. As I tried to come in, in fact he made a run for it and had to be chased up the corridor. I brought him paper and crayons that he was delighted with and his mother, he and I played with them and drew together. He had a toy xylophone in the room also and I attempted to make sound effects to complement what he was doing, I also operated one of his toys, making it draw, but he was entirely engrossed by the crayons and using them to interact with me. Another infant girl followed with similar reactions, until lunchtime.

After lunch I worked with a 7 year old starting by showing her the magic bus from the corridor which she had already noticed and told me was cards children had made for their parents! While she had been at school in the morning a wooden spoon puppet-making kit had been left on the end of her bed by some group making their way around the hospital so she was keen to make these. We just had them finished and were readying to perform for the little boy who had slept to the soundscape, when she had some visitors including two children who were immediately enlisted, and a short while later the boys brother also came in and got involved enthusiastically. It was hard to tell if they had any impact on their audience, but you never know, and I also filmed them performing, with the older visitor exhibiting nice understanding of film suggesting we film the first sequence then pause it, then change the set and film again. The older boy visitor meanwhile contributed a lot of energy and madcap performance ideas (his puppet hanging upside-down from the roof pretending to be a Pinata for example). They were in some ways performing completely opposing stories but managed to co-exist quite happily. A member of staff expressed concerns then at the number of visitors in the room however, as they were expecting a new patient who would need quiet, so the children finished the film and agreed to move to the corridor with me to see if we could make a weblink. We were like a party ourselves moving up the ward and arrived online just in time to join Fionnuala and hospital Es link up which was quite exciting. We all agreed to sing Happy Birthday to one of the spoon puppets although the sound on the link was erratic again and things were quite chaotic at our end. The 7 year old patient seemed to be tiring though, so we wound things up.

I then had one more infant (18 months) in isolation crayon playing episode before burning discs and heading home again through the snow. 

Due to the young age of most participants and the fact that a lot of the patients were in isolation this week it was unusual in that I came away with only one photograph.

6 Patients from 15 months to 7 years old, 3 siblings/other child visitors, 10 parents/adult visitors, 6 nurses and 4 support staff interactions





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