SPARK #23: Appreciative Inquiry

4 May 2024 / 11:00-13:00

The May SPARK session will explore Appreciate Inquiry as a tool that can be useful in shaping our journeys as individual artists/activists, collaborations and collectives, institutions and wider. The session will be led by Rae Story.

If you’d like to attend, please register here . Please note that this event will take place in the ground floor Studio at Manchester Art Gallery.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a method that comes from the Positive Psychology movement and takes a ‘strengths-based’ approach rather than focusing on deficits. Instead of asking what is wrong, what needs to be fixed and then problem-solving from that perspective, AI flips it and asks what works well? What can we build on, how can we learn from the successes of the past (on our own terms) and plan for a better future? The shift from emphasising the negative to appreciating the positive and sharing successes can be refreshing and give energy to help build confidence and momentum in finding new directions. There is also an interesting focus on how language and stories shape the world and we see that in action when we engage with the methodology for ourselves.

Rae will share her experience of AI and explain the main steps of the process with examples of how these can be employed in different settings. We will try out some AI exercises so that everyone gains some direct practical experience as well as understanding the theoretical elements. There will be time for discussion and reflection about whether this tool can be incorporated into SPARK Network planning or activities, or used by artists within their own work.

About Rae
Rae’s practice is fundamentally about connection. Using drawing, painting, photography and sound recording she creates opportunity for relationship; with self, others and nature/environment. She is particularly interested in how we can improve the urban environment to support health and wellness and has worked in arts and health in Manchester for 25 years.Her multi-disciplinary work seeks to inspire others to find their own means of self expression. Employing creativity as a tool for exploration and playfulness. Often this activity culminates in ‘meta’ works: bringing together work from many contributors to form a larger whole that goes beyond what could be achieved individually.

The SPARK network was set up by Castlefield Gallery in 2022 to facilitate a Greater Manchester/North West-based network of artists wanting to intervene in the climate crisis. The gallery initiated SPARK in response to the high demand for places on the 2021/22 SUSTAIN programme focussed on low carbon artmaking.

SPARK #23 follows on from the first twenty two SPARK sessions at Manchester Art Gallery, Rogue, The Birley (Preston), Eccles Friends Meeting House, Manchester Museum, AIR Gallery, Paradise Works, Editional Studio, Cadishead and Little Woolden Moss, Gallery Oldham and the John Rylands Library. SPARK recently had a group exhibition, also called SPARK, and events programme at Rogue Studios.

Image credit: Jane Lawson