Making art in context of a school after a disaster
The second theme to be derived from this project was based on the processes of the project, including the timing of the arts days within the context of the schools. Figure 4.1 illustrates part of the process.
The school communities involved in the digital stories project had experienced varying tragedies and lived in altered landscapes, both socially and physically during the months following the flood events, including the time the project was being undertaken. The subtheme of context of project picked up on some of the broader issues that were going on beforehand or at the time of the project days:
The area had been affected by the tornadoes that came through and also part of the areas were flooded so there had been a degree of trauma in the community and people... It was still visible here and around Bargara too - the house over the road has never been the same again, and still repairs happening along here. So even though the space was there, that had become part of the everyday landscape.
The process of organising the project days within the schools was consistently commented on as being important. This subtheme, process of project, mostly related to how the events unfolded on the project days:
Told them [students] a little bit about the program, that it was a digital representation, that they’d be drawing and making it. More so that it’s hands on and practical so it’d be good for the kids that need to process that way.
So they ended up reading a story at the start and then there was a big discussion about what they had been through and then looked at an example of what the finished product looked like and then they went through and actually started creating their stories and it was really good actually in the sense that it was informal and that the kids were drawing pictures and then writing about it and it was just a conversation, discussion on their experiences on what happened and didn’t happen.
Part of the success of these days related to the timing of the event. Although a couple of parents thought the event could have been held earlier to help them deal with their emotional responses quicker, the majority felt the timing of the days was just right; after the rawness of emotional reactions had subsided, but early enough to be able to tap into those emotions and to deal with them in a therapeutic manner:
Yes, and the space as well, like I don’t think if you would have tried to do it straight away it would have worked. It was nice for them to have that bit of time to reflect about it themselves.
Yeah, that was good, maybe earlier would have been hard - you might not have gotten in earlier because there was too much activity going on and trying to coordinate all of that.
The timing was probably really great now that you sit back and think about it.
These three subthemes related to context, process and timing provide insight into how the arts days were perceived by the schools and families.
figure 4.1 Part of the process of undertaking a digital storytelling project
However, it is the final product that had the potential to ‘close the loop’ for many of these communities. This is explored in the final theme.