My research explored how working with themes of portraiture can promote meaningful connections between materials participants and spaces when working remotely.

I worked with a group of young adults with learning disabilities who were in a classroom bubble at DVLSC (Downs View Life Skills College) and I was facilitating the workshops remotely, via Zoom.

I designed and facilitated a series of 6, weekly, 2hr workshops, with the aim of exploring a different Portraiture theme each week, including: CONNECTION, IDENTITY, and ISOLATION

And with different materials being used:


These practice-based research sessions had a framework that was flexible enough to be adapted whilst allowing the materials and processes to develop freely and flexibly to support artistic experimentation and expression of participants.

This provided multiple learning opportunities for myself and for the development of my research practice.

 Remote workshop on printmaking and markmaking

Key learning:

Findings / recommendations 

  • Secure environment for participants aids confidence and connection and allows participants to advocate for others.
  • Structure and regularity of timings for workshop sessions can help participants with learning differences feel secure if familiar with times of breaks, and daily routine is not disrupted.
  • Having a framework that allows the materials and processes to develop freely and flexibly can support artistic experimentation and expression of participants.
  • Themes of portraiture can help participants voices be heard and assist in developing new – and maintaining existing – connections that may have been lost during pandemic.
  • Allowing time for one-to-one conversations extends the connection with participants and builds trust.
  • Technology can aid the research process and empower participants to take part in the act of research during remote sessions and assist through documenting on i-pads (becoming a co-researcher).