Facilitation in Fabric

ImageI recently went on a 3-day ‘Group Facilitation’ course run by Dr Rob Sheffield and Inge Aben at the University of the West of England, at Bristol Business School. The experience made me think and reflect on my current practices and reconsider some important aspects of group facilitation, particularly with regards to group dynamics in organisational settings – the anxieties, the power plays and the various roles people take on when working together.

I wanted to spend some time reflecting on what had made the biggest impact on me during the course and I spent a weekend making a piece of textile art that symbolised key elements of group facilitation. I used buttons, beads and charms to do this – those on the edge remind me of what is important to remember as a facilitator and those in the middle represent aspects of groups. The thread stitched across the fabric symbolises somewhat Foucauldian concepts of power – power as flexible, shifting and pervasive. The compass in the middle is indicative of the ‘guiding’ nature of facilitation, rather than giving specific instructions and directions. The bright green ribbon used to highlight the edges is symbolic of my interest in liminal space, the significance of the in-between and uncertain – in my experience as a facilitator and researcher, often the most important interactions and relationships occur at the periphery. Conversations in a corridor, talking over coffee in  a reception area, standing in a doorway gossiping – these are the spaces where people, power and anxieties are established and shared…and go on to impact on group dynamics and the roles individuals take on…

There are some more photographs of this work on my creative work page…