Hi, I am Daphne, FIRE Lab’s visual artist. Before you proceed with reading this article, please take some time to look at the image below and pick a colour that relates to how you’re feeling at the moment.
I recently joined the Creative Evaluation workshop series led by Jane Willis and organised by Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education. The workshop was online and ran across three weeks. In the workshop, we learned and talked about how creative approaches can be used by individuals or organisations to deliver enjoyable yet accurate evaluation of and for their projects. The workshop included meaningful conversation and experience sharing between the participants and the workshop lead, as well as short activities that helped us connect, share, and practically understand how creative evaluation can help us skip the classic questionnaire methods for gathering qualitative and quantitative data and instead use a colour chart just like the one you saw above, to gather data about the participants’ thoughts before and after engaging in an activity!
Through this workshop, I was able to distinguish that creative evaluation is not a way that uses only arts-based methods to evaluate. Instead, it is a way to evaluate in a creative way, to think out of the box, to use unusual methods or think in a different manner, and to challenge the evaluator to think creatively when designing evaluation tools. You don’t have to be an artist and you don’t have to present artworks to conduct creative evaluation, you can just be creative.
The workshop also helped me realise that creative evaluation design can be tailor-made for each project. Designing an evaluation in a more “personalised” way, that is both project and participant oriented can be an asset for this type of evaluations as one of its goals is to actively engage with the participant of a specific project. For example, in our ongoing exhibition Join Us Underwater in Oriel Science Swansea, instead of using forms or open-ended questioners to ask visitors to share their thoughts regarding the underwater, we encourage them to read/interact with one of the exhibits and then write or draw their thoughts inspired by the underwater. For the visitors, this might be an activity in a gallery, but for us, the drawings and poems are a rich and meaningful dataset that will eventually be used to make meaning, draw conclusions and report on our findings concerning peoples’ thoughts and relations towards underwater environments!
The creative evaluation workshop was overall very insightful and provided me with the confidence to re-assess how I usually report on the creative data collected. A brilliant example that challenged me to re-think the structure and the methods of reporting is the YOUR FUTURE ALPHABET design and series of illustrations created by artist Imogen Harvey-Lewis and writer Catherine Mitchel. The collaboration was one of the examples Jane Willis used, to talk about how messages deriving from evaluations can get across in different, and more creative ways.
I am excited to work towards presenting and representing my future findings in different and more creative ways. Visit this page again to find out how!