As the world’s eyes turn to the UK for Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding, one year on, we take the opportunity for some reflection. Back on Friday 19th May 2017 we were ramping up for the Open Senses Symposium. We kick started the sensory awakening to come.
We caught up with our very own Open Senses multi-talented, never-stops-to-take-a-breath artist and poet Amy Neilson-Smith (remind yourself here and here of her previous features) to see how she’s been getting on…apparently getting her own royal invitation, to another type of party though!
Amy and Zara-Jayne Arnold (co-workshop leader and similarly multi-talented deafblind writer, poet, performer) were invited to meet the Princess Michael of Kent at the Joseph Clarke School extension and centenary celebrations where the announcement of the students’ work being published was rightfully also celebrated.
Michael Rosen is Impressed (as are others)
Back last year, Amy worked with other talented artists, like Zara, to create a series of successful sensory poetry workshops with students with visual impairments from Joseph Clarke School that culminated in a spoken word showcase at Open Senses.
It was so well received, that now both a book and audiobook entitled by a student “A Blind Bit of Difference” are in development along with an accompanying exciting Open Senses-esque launch!
Through working with a combination of those with sensory needs, science, poetry, food, art and literature, and by experimenting with tastes, smells and music to create metaphors and spoken word poems and stories, they fully embraced crossmodalism principles.
Here’s a few thoughts on the Open Senses showcase and the book from those involved:
“We don’t have to see the colour we can eat the colour!”
- Mohammed, Joseph Clarke School student and now published poet
“This is an explosion of a book; feelings, thoughts, memories, hopes, attitudes and more whizz through the air and land in our minds. I feel privileged to read it. Please read it too and share your favourite poem with someone. These young people are poets!”
- Michael Rosen, Author (yes the famous one who wrote ‘We’re All Going on a Bear Hunt’!)
“It’s amazing to see young minds at work, improvising Spoken Word, out loud, free of their Braille machines, whilst breaking out into the new found confidence of life changing performance!”
- Zara-Jayne, successful deafblind writer and performer whose poetry and an interview with her exploring vision and hearing impairment also feature in “A Blind Bit of Difference”.
“I enjoyed the performance and celebration at the end most of all! They have grown in confidence, self-esteem and enjoyed every single sensory session. Especially the food! Amy and Open Senses brought their imaginations to life and the poetry they produced was amazing!”
- Jody Beecham. Class Teacher, Joseph Clarke School
“Many of these students have vision impairment and some have additional needs. My classes took part in weekly Spoken Word and Sensory Poetry “Tasting Colour” sessions and produced their own exciting audio poems and performances. This project with Amy and the students has been extremely rewarding. Their thoughts conveyed on paper go far beyond their years!”
- Cheryl Aubury – Braille and Literacy Curriculum Manager, Joseph Clarke School
“Since reading my head is full of rusty wire flamingos slicing through sound to find their soft and fluffy fathers! The poems create their own visceral and powerful landscape where feelings and the senses collide to make a sense of their own. It’s an important book, and most beautifully, it rings of a freedom that the poets discovered through writing and synaesthetic metaphor. Loved it!!!”
- Stephanie Singer, Director, Open Senses Festival
“This book is alive with colour and imagination. The students take you on a vivid journey of exploration, taking the senses beyond what is seen and into a world deep with meaning, poignancy and texture. A joy to read.”
- Kara Jarrold, Head of Arts and Wellbeing, Sense
Can you guess?
Intrigued about the contents? Here are some samples from the book to try for yourself – can you guess what food they are describing?
1. “Dark is a delightful smudge of night” & “Dark is the squidgy yet satisfying feeling of the inside of a hug”
2. "Light is...a rainbow exploding in my head!” & “Light is...electric words zooming off my tongue!”
3. "Yellow is...a mischievous mouse!” & “Yellow is the cold sharp bitterness of a falling sun!”
4. “Red is...the skin I shed!” & “Red is...a set of closed round doors...and when I open them I fall to a soft landing!”
Answers: 1. Dark chocolate 2. Popping Candy 3. Cheese 4. Tomatoes
How did you do?
Amy created the experience of “tasting colour” through “playfully ‘inducing’ synaesthesia, creating a sensorial kaleidoscope of the senses, improvising metaphors ‘out loud’ using taste, smell, texture & word games!”
Sensory Festivals spread to Birmingham
If you want to experience more of Amy, Sense and Steph’s work, they’ll be at the Sensibility Festival in Birmingham this weekend from Friday 18th May to Monday 20th May 2018.
Continue the conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses, shared by Natasha Blok