Workshops and lectures

Educational work has become part of the mainstream of my work as an artist and writer. Rather than imparting factual information, I have developed workshops which use creative research and imaginative questioning to open up unexpected ways of looking at the world. I believe the best workshops happen when there is risk and open questioning, where people can be stimulated by their own thinking, and where so-called 'learning outcomes' are not predefined.

Past workshops include individual days at Norwich Castle Museum working with Foundation-level Art students, First Site Gallery for families, the British Museum for KS2 children working with astronomy, Radical Nature at the Barbican Art Gallery for playgroups, and Kettle's Yard for children as part of Mr & Mrs Walker have moved.

In 1997 I led several workshops at the Natural History Museum as part of my residency. These included photography and collage, creating dioramas, and explorations of taxonomy and naming. These workshops were for staff, children, schools and families. I have also worked with refugees, in prisons and on Creative Partnership and other projects with Primary and Secondary schools. Other workshops have been at the South London Gallery, New Gallery Walsall, Dr Johnson's House Museum, and on the banks of the Thames.

In 2004 for the project Nature and Nation I ran a series of 4 workshops with the Cathedral School in Southwark based on creating a herbarium. This included collecting plant material with data, preserving, identifying and labelling, and making a glossary of Latin and Greek wordblocks which the children used to create new plant species names.

From 2006 to 2008 I worked on Lie of the Land, a Creative Partnerships project at Briscoe Nusery, Infant and Primary School in Basildon. I ran a number of activities here including a historical and museological project for the whole school, a mapping project with selected children, and a birdwatching project with nursery, Yr 1 & Yr 2, a history project with Yr 6, and a land art project with the entire school. The first project involved planting historical artefacts in the school field where the children excavated them using metal detectors; the objects were then curated and identified by the children, who then used them as the core collection around which they are creating a museum in the school; over time I have introduced them to ways of researching to modify and sharpen some identifications, but the children have never been 'corrected' in their interpretations. We have further developed the activities into story-telling, drama, and pottery-making using clay from under the school-field. See 24hourmuseum - this website is also running a case-study on this activity. The children have developed their own research-skills as well as taking control of the design of the museum, and arranging the collections according to their own system.

More recent workshops and lectures include a presentation on Shakespeare's plays in the context of late sixteenth century publishing, to the MA Communication Design group at Central St Martins College of Art & Design (2012); and a performance talk - Sir Thomas Browne and the Digestion of an Ostrich, at GutsforGarters, Camden (2011); a presentation on the early publishing of Shakespeare to the Cambridge University Press staff (2014); presentations on the Language of the First World War as the Woodford Memorial Hall annual lecture 2014, and to the East London Family History Society (2015); a presentation on Magna Carta to the Law Software Suppliers Association (2015).

My talks follow my main research areas, currently early printing, and the development of the English language, particularly during the First World War. I am also giving talks on the history of medicine and cosmetics.

For British Library activities, please see BL page.