It can’t be denied, the blog and progress on Branch have not been forthcoming recently. The final part of my Marvel study is yet to materialise and I’m overdue by a long way on that next comic page, still I haven’t been sitting around in their absence.
This week I’ve been voluntarily helping out with a kids’ workshop themed around Andy Warhol with activities taking place between the local Ferens Gallery – which is hosting an exhibition of his work – and Hull College. I realise this is someway off the topic of my usual posts and might seem a little strange, but I’d like to briefly share a few thoughts on the experience.
See the thing is, I had it in my mind that I couldn’t deal with children. Hearing that I’d be assisting with a group of 12-13 year olds brought back memories of myself at the equivalent age along with my less than exemplary behaviour; I wasn’t the worst pupil in my class but a good long way off the best. More than anything, I felt like I was returning to my dreaded secondary school years; an era I doubt I’ll ever recall fondly thanks to my then crippling social ineptitude and distinctly unmotivated attitude. However, at the end of the first day on the workshop I made a surprising discovery: I don’t actually hate kids.
Maybe we lucked out getting a more studious group or perhaps I was just unrealistically pessimistic but I was actually impressed by their unfettered enthusiasm and creativity. Rather than being simply ‘bearable’ as I hoped I genuinely enjoyed working with them and helping them out. Given their seemingly inexhaustible energy it’s certainly been a draining week but it was also a breath of fresh air that I may well have needed to clear out my psychological cobwebs.
On a more project relevant note I was particularly fascinated by how technically savvy they were; I may have grown up as the internet went mainstream and mobile phones went from clunky oddity to essential accessory, but this is a generation coming of age in a media saturated world of YouTube, smart phones and increasingly miniaturised computing. At an age when I was being given patronising run downs on the correct meaning of ‘ICT’ and word processing, these guys are using Photoshop – many for the first time – and getting to grips with complicated techniques and effects within the space of two afternoons.
Indeed, sitting down to talk informally with a group of them during lunch break I was astonished by their understanding of networking and computers – which is not to suggest they don’t have a lot to learn but compared to what I knew at their age it marks out just how much has changed. For better or worse the times they are achangin’ and what we’re seeing now marks out a trajectory of our increasingly symbiotic relationship with the ever advancing march of technology. Frankly I’m torn between feeling exhilarated and terrified when I think what kids like these will be capable of in a decade or two.
Call it corny if you will, but all in all this week has been an unexpectedly uplifting, inspiring experience. I often feel that adulthood is accompanied by a wave of cynicism, which – while largely being inevitable and frequently prominent in my case – can feel suffocating from time to time. I’m not saying I’ll run out and adopt orphans or anything, but stepping out of my own life for a week and seeing things from a truly youthful perspective has been a veritable lightning bolt to my creative batteries.
So, without further ado I’ll stop prattling on now and start putting my money where my mouth is…