Odyssey. Riverside SEND project

Artists Marc Woodhead and Musician Luke Crookes have been visiting Riverside SEN School, and collaborating with an extraordinary teacher Owen Smith, to develop a drama sensory story with props (including a cardboard boat big enough to sail in) and soundscapes.

Document 1    
Is a transcript of a zoom meeting Marc, Owen and I had. I’ve been though the document drawing out key points that I think could be used in the development of our practice and transformed into concepts, tools and training for the National Gallery SEND education team. (24 pages)
Document 2    
Is a document of all the session plans, transcripts and notes from all the sessions. From this I think we could develop content and tools for cross-arts SEN practice. The document needs lots of work but it is all there in chronological order so its well on its way.(60 pages)
Document 3 
Is the least developed. It is an outline of things that may go into a presentation or report about the pre-project planing, collaboration, methodology and leadership etc. It needs lots of work but I’ve taken all the relevant information we have created so far and put it all in sections. (24 pages)
Document 1
Riverside Project – reflections (version: 1pm 5th April) Zoom Conversation with Luke Crookes, Owen Smith, Marc Woodhead
Key themes drawn from the transcript that could be developed
  • Two spaces: The open space and the focus space.
  • Structure & ritual.
  • Giving students the time to process not in minutes as mainstream learners do and not even in one session but over many sessions. The hidden workings of the individual system.
  • The phenomena of the now. Three levels meaning, phenomena, fractal. Creating climates where complexity can emerge.
  • Repetition and taking time to build connections.
  • The need for several session. Otherwise it can be too distressing.
  • The students show us the wonder of being in the moment. William Blake: eternity in a grain of sand, universe of the flower.
  • This work can raise the bar for all. It’s not the traditional model of the knowledgeable teacher were in it together learning together.
  • So many different strategies to be found in the transcriptions of the sessions.
  • It can be difficult to remember what happened in the moment. Using photographs to trigger memories of how students are experiencing the work.
Use of the room and activity.
  • The ride model: students felt able to get on the ride and off the ride and stay on the ride as they wished, that was very important. 
  • A maker or a be-er. Being able to be a maker of the story or being in the story  ‘in the boat and out of the boat”
  • The room becomes a space in which the session happens, that includes the chillout room, that whole space is a space in which the session is happening.
  • Keeping students in the session atmosphere: respectfully or authentically, you are keeping x included in the story by reading his actions as part of the story.
  • Making the space a space where make-believe can always happen.
  • Setting up a relationship: proposition, invitation, agency, empowerment. Active versus passive. 
  • Finding the right language: very short, sharply delivered instructions, words. (for some students)
  • The ripple effect of flow from the start of the session through each activity.
  • Following the students lead. Where are they taking it.
  • There is a thread of atmosphere, magic that runs through the session. Being careful not to break it.
  • Creating a space and exercises to establish what the play is going to be about and then gradually extending it until we are in play space.
  • Its not a 2 dimensional story, its a 3 dimensional story: creating a three-dimensional space. If you’re just going with the idea of telling a story of a narrative, that sort of two-dimensional.
Being present 
  • Greek tragedy and the use of repeated phrases to create an atmosphere. But the importance of creating phrases from the now of the group or really being in the zone to deliver a prescript phrase if thats all that is possible due to time-frame. 
  • Holding the atmosphere to create a pathway to the atmosphere.
  • The importance of embodying the material (in the planing phases) so you can be in the room and your body, your imagination and the essence.
Safety for students become familiar with the session
  • Creating simple phrases that will lodge, hopefully in their mind, in their consciousness, so that when you do the session again, that becomes a familiar landmark.
  • National Gallery ended up creating content that’s off the shelf, so all can access it’s benefit. 
  • Online training for parents.
  • Soundscapes to create a mood or live soundscapes to respond to the mood in the room
  • Flexible soundscapes that have simple layers to do off the shelf sessions for gallery staff.
Creating spaces
  • My students need, they need lots of space, so there is not too much to process, so they don’t become overloaded. So there is this space of the story, the room, the sound, the music, the art, the pictures. 
  • The quantum inner space of fractal geometry.
The Body
  • Bringing the body into the session though the use of music and art, taking the essence of energies so we can begin to find a connection within that includes the body. Somatic. 
  • The abstract use of energies of the seascape with Bakhuizen began to explore this blended world of body art and music.
Mapping energies
  • Taking time to map the energies of the art and the students so both can come to together in the session.
A two way process
  • It’s a two-way process, you’re learning from me but God I’m learning from you.
Document 2
  1. Session 1 plan
  2. Session 1 transcript & pirate story script
  3. Session 1 notes
  4. Session 2 planning
  5. Session 2 notes
  6. Session 3 transcript
  7. Session 3 notes
  8. Post session 3 preparation work
  9. Post project ideas
  10. Session 4 notes without us
  11. Final two sessions
Document 3
  1. Outcomes
  2. Abstract
  3. Collaboration
  4. Model of sessions
  5. Methodology
  6. Planning phases
  7. Composing soundscapes
  8. Music resources


Soundscapes created to create atmospheres