Kaleidoscope is a programme designed for victims of Domestic Violence, using computer-based work, photography, discussion and artistic challenges to help improve self-esteem and good decision-making. Those taking part will find that their self-esteem will be improved, and their ability to make good choices and responsible decisions for themselves will be better. They will gain valuable computer skills, improve their communication skills, and meet and discuss with professionals involved in the workplace and volunteering. They will identify their barriers to moving towards work, explore their talents and learn to value their abilities. Participants reported (and staff agreed) that after taking part they were more confident, more willing to get involved, more empowered to make decisions, more positive and happier.
I asked a Burmese why women – after centuries of following their men – now walk ahead. He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war.
Kaleidoscope will help women victims of domestic violence overcome feelings of fear and intimidation (real and perceived) of the workplace, including:
- male-dominated or macho environment – fears from previous experience
- intimidating workplaces – target-oriented, blame culture, fear of consequences of making mistakes
- uncomfortable workplace environments – competitive culture, gossip, discussing home life
- lack of skills – new to working life, expecting to be taken advantage of
- low self-esteem – reduced awareness of choices, no aspirations/dreams, appearing to lack enthusiasm
- low self-confidence – can I really do this?
- mental health issues – fear that others will see the ‘real, flawed me’.
- practical constraints – childcare, personal needs, communication skills, accessibility/disability
“The camera gives you such a power, you feel you can do anything you want.”
“As soon as I put the camera on my neck, I felt like I was a different person”
“I have come to Windsor so many times, I have never seen this bridge like I do now. I learned how to see things differently”
“I never knew I could do this [creating an artistic picture. I could do it forever.”
“I have taken an art course at the college, but it was nothing like this.”
“This course gave me a big boost in self confidence. I am a happier person now.”
‘I never realized that I would be able to work a camera, computer and things like this. I am so proud of myself.’
‘I never touched a computer before. I learnt how to use a computer and to use camera and to better these photos through Photoshop. I am happy that I learnt new things.’
During the photo outings, the clients learn to look for colour, and to include this as a feature of their photographs.
Black and white counts as colour – or at least a colour choice – and is ripe with metaphor. The addition of Red Phone Boxes adds drama
Sometimes adding colour is simply a way of making the everyday a little brighter.… or surreal?
Later, the clients will learn – on their laptop computers – how to manipulate the photos they have taken. They will experiment with their use of colour choice even further.
In this picture, the original object has disappeared (in this case, a piece of window display of a lamp); all we see is an explosion of colour. And a visual assertion of self esteem.
Adding charm to an ordinary/boring object like a black cab, simply by applying a dash of colour. Remember, we say to those taking part in Kaleidoscope, every photo tells a story. So don’t delete any photo just because you don’t like it. We want to see the creative process.
Clients are encouraged to experiment. Make choices. The beauty with such experiments is that it increases your ability to articulate…
Participants learn about the lives and work of various artists throughout the course and how to use the artistic tools to create a particular effect typical of the artist. The idea is not to recreate a cheap Cezanne or Monet, but to begin to look at the world through their ways of expression.
This same effect can be used to make a person unrecognisable – anonymous. This is often the start of discovering Who Am I?.
On a Photoshoot session, everyone will be looking at the same subjects… taking the photos of the same things… and then manipulate them in different ways. Here is a piece of sky, as the client sees it.
Here is where perspective plays a role. Once you learn about how important it is to see things from a different perspective, you can then apply your knowledge to creating your images. Here again is a piece of sky, but this time as a reflection.
The clients will be looking at patterns and shapes as well as colour. This helps to make multiple choices.
Making visual choices means “the difference between what you include, and what you lave out – this is only a part of umbrella. The client chose to omit the rest of it.
Each photo outing works as an opportunity to see new things or the previous ones from a different perspective – things we would normally miss…
“I have come to Windsor so many times, I have never seen this bridge like I do now.”
While taking photos and manipulating them into artistic statements, clients are able to express their feelings through the camera and the artistic tools they learn to use. This picture reflects the clients’ view of domestic violence as a cage.
Confidence is built up as clients will work as a group and most importantly, start to change individually from the very moment they go out on photo-sessions: “As soon as I put the camera around my neck, I felt I was a different person”
The outstanding picture can owe something to serendipity – but the photographer needs to be aware, to see the potential and to capture the moment, and this sense is something we encourage our clients to develop. Far from being set up and posed, the well-dressed man in the pink shirt was just sitting outside at a table.