Craftivism in action with National Deaf Children’s Society at DCA


7 October 2019

The National Deaf Children’s Society have been using art and craft making in their work to demonstrate to deaf young people how they can raise awareness of key issues affecting them and also how they can lobby for change. For the second year of their Craftivism project the charity got in touch with our Learning team for some “creative inspiration” and to help them add print skills to their planning and delivery.

“...really helped to make Dundee more deaf-friendly...”

In Dundee, the aims of the National Deaf Children’s Society's project were to achieve routes to help young deaf people to access much needed support, to teach them about helpful services and resources on their doorstep, and also to work to make much needed changes to the attitudes of their peers and the wider society and working with DCA, a public building with art making facilities and support available, was an important aspect to achieving their goals.

Our Learning team designed a day long workshop, bringing on board two of our skilled freelance artist tutors with printmaking experience - Syrah Jay and Beth Robertson. It was felt that stencil screen printing would be the best process to use as it produces bold, fast results and would allow the participants to achieve finished artworks using images and text to communicate their chosen messages.

“When people say it doesn’t matter, it does matter - we are humans too”

In May, nine deaf young people from Dundee and the National Deaf Children’s Society staff joined our Learning team for the day and really helped to make Dundee more deaf-friendly by taking part in the Craftivism project. The young participants arrived very well prepared, having made Pinterest boards and carried out research into print artists like Sister Corita Kent (whose work was exhibited in DCA galleries in 2013).

The text chosen by the group was very hard hitting and based on personal experience, for example:

“When people say it doesn’t matter, it does matter - we are humans too”

“can you hear me?”

“end the stigma”

Likewise, the symbols and imagery used was strong and bold.

After making a few tester prints and creating solid colour backgrounds, the group were able to move on to making their own paper stencils. The hardest part was planning how to layer the colours and images to create the most impact. Our ‘washing line’ of prints, used for drying and showing work in progress, was jam-packed with experiments and finished poster prints.

The young people, artists and staff involved were blown away by what was achieved in just one workshop session, all by young people who had never made prints before.

Rachel Dunbar, Development Officer at the National Deaf Children’s Society, fed back that everyone was thrilled with the experience and gained so much from working with print artist tutors Beth and Syrah. The resulting artworks now have a job to do: since the session the charity have had them printed as large posters and postcards to be used in both campaigning and in exhibitions or displays of work. These will be displayed at DCA at our upcoming See Think Make Do Open Weekend on Sat 7 and Sun 8 December, alongside other outcomes from our projects with partner groups. Keep an eye on our website for more information about this special open weekend as part of our DCA20 birthday celebrations.

The National Deaf Children’s Society shared some great feedback about this creative making experience:

“The team did everything possible to make the day a success, the staff were fantastic both in their screen-printing knowledge and in their way with the young people. The food was brilliant and we were looked after throughout our time. We have used the DCA before because it’s such a wonderful experience both for the charity’s staff and young people -  it’s a deaf aware environment and accessible.”

“I want to let you know that the service we have had has been outstanding, we love the centre and look forward to working more with you in the future.”

Plans are underway for another creative craftivism day next year - we're already very excited and can't wait to work with the National Deaf Children’s Society again!

You can read more about the National Deaf Children’s Society craftivism projects here and you can follow them on Facebook to keep up-to-date with all the important work they do.

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