Social Dreaming as container

Social Dreaming as container

to help deepen creative practice with organisations.

to help deepen creative practice with organisations

The first cohort of Deepening Creative Practice with organisations has now completed the four seasons – from Spring to Winter – with the fifth, ‘exhibiting’ season due to take place this coming Spring. As we worked through the Winter season, one reflection was on the value of regular social dreaming matrices throughout the programme. These matrices have been programmed to take place twice per season, and additional matrices were set up by participants between the autumn and winter seasons.

In addition, during the process of DCP, the cohort has worked with artist, Bongsu Park whose practice works with dreams to create installations and other artworks. Bongsu creates work through the lens of Korean cultural associations to our dream worlds.  The experience of bringing social dreaming together with Bongsu’s arts practice inspired one participant to apply for funding from Civic Square’s Dream Fund so that the ‘exhibiting’ season could include a public offer in collaboration with Bongsu. As I write this blog, the plans for this are still emerging.

However, this is one way in which social dreaming has provided a stimulus for the deepening of creative practice. Participants and faculty have also commented on the way in which social dreaming matrices have acted as a container for the DCP community to surface themes relevant to the programme, to organisational life and to the wider context of the pandemic underlying the 2020/2021 experience.

The themes for each of the seasons seemed to be mirrored within dreams shared in the matrices. For example, in early matrices, dreams of apocalypse, connection and disconnection, boundaries, rooms, buildings and lack of control connected to themes of curation and care, artefacts and objects of organisation.

Working through Spring and Summer 2020 was a period of adjusting to a visceral not knowing. Participants considered what it meant to be part of a temporary organisation at this time, how feelings and experiences generated through DCP could be seen as a mirror to organisational life – a mirror where some of the apocalyptic fears could be spoken and assumptions around organisation and community could be challenged and questioned.

Other dreams, like the following fragment, resonated with themes around power, politics and projection, performance and systems:

I’m floating above a maze of boxes, in a rhythmic movement, like a fly trapped in a lampshade. I’m not inside the maze but floating above it, looking down at it, I can see the layout. I’m free in the wind but I can’t escape. 

Not only did dreams from early matrices become associations in later matrices, but the conversations within and outside of matrices enabled the work to move between dreams, specific organisational dilemmas and potential responses to these, the creation of new artistic pieces, and a sense of greater meaning-making of the experience of undertaking DCP during a pandemic.

We are still making sense of the experience so far of this prototype year of Deepening Creative practice and are planning to do some further analysis of the matrices, and their relationship to the work of DCP.  For now, as we absorb the richness of the experience of the last year, we look forward to the second year of DCP beginning and wondering how Social Dreaming will support the work of the next cohort.

Heather Stradling
Co-Director, Deepening Creative Practice

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