The Doodle Book was developed through the course of 2019/20 in collaboration with Mind the Gap, artist Brian Hartley and a group of learning-disabled artists. The objective was to create a resource that would support individuals with learning disabilities to engage in creative reflective thinking about themselves and their art making. The value of reflective thinking is asserted in a range of contexts, most noticeable Schon’s argument that reflexivity enables practitioners to gain agency over their decision making; and Gidden’s description of reflexivity as providing individuals the ability to act critically in and on the world. Central to both is the enabling of self-agency: that is, the ability of an individual to act confidently with purpose towards determined goals and objectives.
The Doodle Book concept was inspired by a tradition of creative reflective toolkits and models within the arts, that often provide tasks, instructions, playful prompts and activities. Examples include Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way, the Goat Island School Book and Keri Smith’s Wreck this Journal. Taking these as starting points, the Doodle Book comprises of playful, creative tasks structured into three sections:
Tasks to make you DO
These instruction-based tasks are designed to
set your creative juices flowing in new and
Tasks to help you THINK
Thinking is hard, these pages hope to make it
fun and engaging.
Tasks to make you REFLECT
We learn through reflecting on what we’ve
done before, these tasks support you in doing
A version of the Doodle Book was used as part of an international residency at Mind the Gap in November 2019, involving learning disabled artists from England, France and Sweden.
Responses from the artists were positive, with comments including ‘helped me focus on what I wanted to do next as a musician’, ‘It really helped me reflect’, ‘Makes me remember that we’ve learned a lot of things during the residency’. Evaluation at this stage identified how the book:
During April 2020, MTG realised that the majority of their normal practice – face-to-face, close contact work – would be impossible for certainly the medium and possibly long term. In response they identified the Doodle Book as a part of a strategy for working remotely with both their own artists and their network of learning-disabled arts organisations.