Alejandra Carles-Tolra is a professional photographer and Create artist. As our new project concept Create Live! came together we worked with Alejandra to develop a creative online photography project for young carers.
Create Live! is Create’s online, interactive project initiative developed to reach participants during the lockdown, offering a creative lifeline to the most vulnerable adults and children in isolation.
Below, Alejandra reflects on the experience of developing and facilitating a Create Live! project with young carers from Kingston.
“Developing and running a Create Live! project was a very interesting challenge. At first, I worried it was going to feel very impersonal, that I wouldn’t be able to adapt to each person’s needs in a virtual room, but that wasn’t the case at all. The way the work translated over video call was surprising in a really positive way. It felt much closer to an in-person Create project than I was expecting.
“In normal circumstances, when I am in the same room as participants, the first day of my workshops is always focused on building trust between the participants and me and ensuring that everyone feels comfortable, encouraged and not overwhelmed by the creative exercises. The worst thing would be if someone felt, ‘oh this is not for me, I’m terrible at photography’ and felt discouraged. I wanted to create the same atmosphere over Zoom.
“I begin all my workshops by asking people to be aware of the surroundings, to notice the space we’re in and to try to find light and inspiration there. The way I managed the transition online was to think of the current situation and the spaces the participants were in. I asked the young carers to work with the personal things that were around them, to look at their homes with new eyes and find inspiration in these everyday things. It doesn’t matter what tools you have, it’s a way of looking at the world. This approach can be adapted to any space and participants can take these skills and this mindset anywhere.
“I asked the young carers to work with the personal things that were around them, to look at their homes with new eyes and find inspiration in these everyday things. It doesn’t matter what tools you have, it’s a way of looking at the world.”
“Sharing our work online, after three days creating together, was very special. Everyone seemed very happy and very proud of the work and the time that we had spent together. It was wonderful that family members and loved ones were able to join them on the screen. In the past not everyone has the time to come and look so that was really special.
“By the end of the project it felt as though we had forgotten that we were not in a real space together; it didn’t feel strange that we had spent five hours in this virtual room. I think that was possible because the project combined the participants’ physical spaces and the virtual world: we were constantly reminding ourselves of the real world around us by taking photographs. Collaboration is always at the centre of my work and during this period of increased isolation it felt essential that the young carers could collaborate and share their creative work and ideas with each other. This was made possible by using break-out rooms, virtual ‘rooms’ where smaller groups of participants could meet and discuss inspiration and ideas. Although there were some technological challenges, on the whole the project was a great success. I will definitely be taking some of the ideas generated from the virtual project into my work going forward.”
Photographs from Alejandra’s isolation photography series The Light Coming In.