Refracting 'Through a different lens: writing at the museum', with Shelagh Doonan on 19 October 2018

Following a brilliant session for the AMED Writers' Group at the Horniman Museum, Shelagh has sent this hand-crafted graphic of our round-up.

Cryptic though it may seem, I hope this image will inspire participants and others to post their reflections and suggestions for our AMED 2020 co-inquiry, and/or for writing in  general. 

You can do so in this space, or on our dedicated AMED 2020 page here.  We'll try to make these two web pages interconnected.

You can add images, sound or text files here if you like.

Keep your ideas, suggestions, questions and comments coming!

Very best wishes.  Bob

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The complexity and vastness of the 'data' available and ever-present in our world leaves me yearning for simplicity and focus.  To sharpen my ability to really see what is right in front of me is a challenge I take from the event at the Horniman - maybe I need to choose a narrow focus lens for a while.

Thanks to all for the gathering on Friday, and especially to Shelagh.


Here are my bullets about AMED 2020 captured after the closing discussion at last Friday's Horniman gathering. There were nine of us that sunny afternoon. We wandered alone, taking time in the special surroundings of the Horniman to write responses to Shelagh's 3 questions (What does it mean to be human? What is a life well-lived? What do we hold dear?), then gathered for tea and sharing.

My wanderings were punctuated with randomness (VUCA world): kids playing, mothers sharing cake, a distressed woman shouting at her toddler, a grandfather grateful for the special space ("Mr Horniman was a saint"). I was inspired to write a brief dialogue between the dodo I met and the Dutch sailor who first discovered this soon to be extinct bird back in 1500. 

I noted the wise suggestion that in AMED we know we best pay attention to the quality of our real experience rather than fuel anxiety by worrying about the future. In a profound way, this summed up my happy afternoon.

Our VUCA world suddenly got even more VUCA...I speak of the current Brexit turmoil, and it’s many layers.  I think with trepidation of the next generations, who will inherit the consequences of today’s decisions.

During our workshop last month at the Horniman Museum, I spent time writing about the photos of four young people (3 girls and a boy) in NW Siberia. Seventeen years ago, they were looking after their reindeer, or proudly standing on the ice, holding up a fish just caught. Red cheeks, smiling, steady gazes. Today they are now: a TV presenter, a land rights lawyer, a specialist nurse and co-ordinator of a reindeer cooperative.  The photos made me think of what their younger and older selves might be saying about their lives well-lived, and their 2000-2017 trajectories.

The inter-generational message for us and for AMED is loud: reaching out, connecting, building on what we’re already doing, learning with and from each other across the generations.

Shelagh Doonan 

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