Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment

By Diane Waller | Go to book overview

Case example 7

Power and domination

Clay workshops and sub-group themes

The group divided into four small groups, people choosing who they wanted to work with. The experience of the life-sized portraits was still active and the ‘symbolic group’ now occupied the walls of the studio. The task was to use the clay in any way the small groups wished.

In Group 1, five members from the closed community had chosen to work together. They had a brief discussion and I noticed that B. had made a suggestion which appeared to be accepted. The clay was pounded with much enthusiasm and loud banging. A structure was created with a wall around it. There was much arguing followed by scooping up of the clay and pounding it back into a large block. Then the group sat contemplating the ball of clay and each other. B. again seemed to take the lead and was offering a suggestion which was accepted. Everyone took a piece of clay and started working individually. Then they joined B. who had flattened out a large piece and was shaping it. I saw they were making a mask, using elements of the painting which A. had done of B. earlier on.

When they were satisfied with the structure, they began to paint it. Normally, clay needs to dry, be biscuit fired and painted with special underglazes, fired again and glazed. There was no possibility of carrying out this procedure here so it was ‘good enough’ to use the acrylic paints for the purpose. The group were preoccupied with the painting, especially B. who was clearly enjoying himself.

In Group 3, it seemed that individuals had chosen to work on their own pieces without much discussion or interaction (see Figure 20).

In Group 4, people also worked individually, although they had spent a lot of time talking before using the clay (see Figure 21).

When the making process was complete, groups visited each other and a discussion began. Group 1 explained that they had started by making a prison but they themselves felt trapped by it and wondered why they had chosen the topic. They thought it was because their community was ‘closed’ and they had chosen each other and chosen the topic for this reason. They felt resentful of the other group members who were not in this position. They’d decided—or rather B. had suggested—making a ‘devil mask’. They

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