Further sessions with AUTUS and a meeting with student Rebecca Williams


We are happy to announce that while we are between projects we will continue to work in and around our region ,  providing sessions and offering support to emerging practitioners. Tids and Fitz will be working with AUTUS again in march and april,and just had the first conversation with Rebecca Williams who is a student from Barrow Sixth Form College. Rebecca is undertaking Extended Project Qualification research into Music Therapy, and particularly how it can be applied for children with specific needs. She was pointed to Co-Mmotion by tutor and Autism Specialist Danny Banks , an old and valued friend of ours.  Rebecca led with a number of well informed questions and some observations relating to her own experience, and the discussion involved the roots of the project , the role in its design of  partner organisations, families and individuals, its impact and  and it’s relationship to our individual  practice as artists.

This made for an interesting and enjoyable conversation. We’ll be meeting Rebecca again and looking forward to seeing the results of her research.


Further interest: Creative Support Social Care Services. Opportunity, Choice and WellBeing


Thanks to “A Space To Breathe” we’ve had a call from a member of the team at Creative Support,  a high quality provider of person centred social care services for people with learning disabilities, mental health and other needs.

Their site tells you more about their work, which takes place within 59 local authorities, and also provides a list of current vacancies from across the country. Hopefully we’ll be linking up with them.


DASH; Cultivating spaces for extraordinary artists


We’ve had some kind and supportive words about “A Space To Breath”  from Ray Jacobs  a movement and digital artist who has worked with DASH the Disability Led Visual Arts organisation . Ray works as a solo artist, creating film, installation image and performance, and as a facilitator of creativity, fostering safe and supportive environments where people can express themselves through movement.  DASH  commissions new work and provides workshops, mentoring and training.

Here’s a link to their  site:



And here’s the DASH projects page, which carries info about an amazing range of inclusive arts projects and opportunities.


Thanks for the message Ray and hopefully we’ll speak soon.

A Space to Breathe


Here is the link to the final film of the Co-MmoTion with NAS project.  There is an 8min documentary, followed by a 5min arts film, inspired by & involving the children…

A Space to Breathe.


The piece is the product of a year-long programme of music, dance and audio visual arts activity in partnership with the National Autistic Society (Furness branch) and Octopus Arts Collective (Barrow-in-Furness). The project was conceived and developed in  collaboration with Autism specialists, educators and parents. Through Creative interventions involving sound, movement and projection the programme  aimed to increase and enhance levels ofengagement/interaction in children and young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions and/or Complex Needs by creating a stimulating responsive and interactive multi-sensory space for creativity.

We have produced this short video for screening and installation alongside  a palette of sounds and musical pieces used in the project and available by download to organisations and families.  We also have a short documentary to sit  alongside this work, providing it with context.

We feel that this project has been a success on several levels. It is unusual for groups such as NAS to commission artworks and work closely with artists and arts organisations, and the experience has been valuable for ourselves and our members, particularly the families of the young participants. While practicing artists in their own right wehave in recent years devoted a large amount of time to working with ADS groups , but had never produced a piece of artwork  that drew on our experiences.  NAS had never worked with artists in this way, and with the support of the Octopus Collective we have been able to present a groundbreaking programme of arts based therapy sessions alongside an accessible and informative artwork that  reflects the atmosphere of the sessions, the nature of the relationships that have emerged during the project ,and provides a empathic and accessible representation of our


We and our partners  feel we have a body of work and evidence that demonstrates the value of this unique partnership, and which provides a template for other organisations to adopt.

Relationships between NAS, our artists,  our local authority and our local education community have also been enhanced by this project.

Within Cumbria our work has  to date been presented by 2 Local Special Education Schools, and a local Day Services group working with adults with ADS, and within our region Action for ASD East Lancashire Resource Centre  Burnley, and Preston Space Centre. Further events will take place at Ulverston Coronation Hall, Barrow Town Hall and we are in conversation with an ADS group in Calderdale.




“Just had a chance to watch it again properly. Love the title, A Space to Breathe, perfect description for the sessions! It was lovely to see how you made good use of the space and resources and from the looks of it, managed to make the sessions completely different for each child so their experience was unique. It was a pleasure for myself and Sam to be part of it. ”


“Good film showed what the project was about.”


“I love it. Every time we watch it i see something new. Is there any chance you could make the sound track available its so calming x ”  (Yes we can, see above..)


“Brilliant! Certainly showcases your work, shows how versatile you are and how much the kids enjoy it ”


“Beautiful, moving, sensitive. Loved the listening/mirroring in the documentary . Great work !”


“It was really interesting to see the work you are doing with children and young people locally.  One of the participants is a neighbour of mine, and a Brownie, and it was lovely to see her involved in the project.  She really seemed to be enjoying working with you, as did all the other children and young people.”


What a joy to see those children engaging with their family,  you and their surroundings. Well done.  Love the documentary and the arts film has a real ethereal quality to it.

Here’s the  doc in its original form  on its own..

“That was lovely to watch, I have finished it feeling all calm and relaxed.”


Looks good. The kids seem to be really engaging with it Smiling face with smiling eyes


“What a lovely film – It’s one thing when you are told about something but another when you see it in action, I’m really impressed! It made me feel quite emotional watching how well the children responded to the music and dance/movement (and that means you and Fitz). Very well done! I do hope you can get further funding, it’s such a worthwhile project.”


“Thank you for sharing  ..wonderful!”


“I have watched your film and was struck by how some of your aims match with ours at Space, namely allowing the child to take the lead and also using the power of light and sound to affect mood and motivation.”


“great you are out there doing this.”


While this is a conclusion of sorts, we will be continuing to develop our work, exploring further options and picking up on the many connections established during this project.  We’ve just had a  call  from a student from Barrow In Furness Sixth Form College who is embarking on a project involving art, music and therapy, and we’ll be offering whatever support we can.  If you’ve been interested, moved, inspired by anything you’ve heard, seen or read about our work or Furness NAS and our other partners in the region please contact us, please contact us.


In the meantime, watch and share A SPACE TO BREATH and please do let us know what you think!

Our thanks to our participants and  their families and to our supporters.

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Postcode Community Trust

We were really pleased to have been able to pilot a mini-arts project with Ulverston Day Services thanks to the Postcode Community Trust. Co-Mmotion (Tids Pickard & Alan Fitzgerald) facilitated a 5 week programme of music, dance and audio visual arts activity in partnership Octopus Arts Collective (Barrow-in-Furness). The project was a development of our previous year-long project for children with Autism in collaboration with NAS (Furness Branch). Again, through creative interventions involving sound, movement and projection the project aimed to increase and enhance levels of engagement & interaction in adults with Autism Spectrum conditions and/or complex needs by creating a stimulating, responsive and interactive multi-sensory space for creativity.
The project was a real success. Staff and service users engaged, were responsive and seemed to thoroughly enjoy. The project also included staff trainning to allow the work to continue on a weekly basis beyond this project. Invaluable. Thank-you Postcode Community Trust!

Neurological Perspective


In the context of mind, brain and relating, according to Siegel (1) sensory input alone is not enough to create physical changes within the brain.  The ‘input’ needs to be attached to a relational, emotional and meaningful experience.

It strikes me that this is the difference between the Co-Mmotion sensory environment and a sensory room/equipment.  Fitz and I are a part of the environment with which the children can engage with emotionally/relationally – through music, dance/movement or otherwise.

We can attune to the children, sensing and responding – interpersonally and creatively – to their individual need…

1. Siegel, D,J (MD) 2010; Mind Sight (Bantam Books)

Thank-You Funders!


The Co-Mmotion project has been rolling since September – offering children and their families regular bi-weekly sessions.  Relationships have grown and our work is evolving in response to the needs and wants of those involved.  We would just like to acknowledge that none of this would have been possible without the support of the Cumbria County Council’s Community Grant Scheme, the Sir John Fisher Foundation and the the Arts Council England.  Thank-you for allowing us to bring something worthwhile to the children and their families in Barrow-in-Furness.

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Process not Product… Dancing, Moving & Relating.


To be seen, witnessed, understood and validated is a fundamental human need and people with autism or complex/profound needs are of no exception. Communication differences and social stigma – misunderstanding and devaluing people with different needs (and their parents/carers), means their need may be greater… and there lies the potency of moving and relating through our own dance.
I don’t do routines, sequences and razzmatazz. Sorry but I am not going to teach your child dance steps nor make them achieve movement that might be seen as dance. That is in our interests not the young peoples’.
What I do is engage in a carefully attuned relational process that proves to look differently depending upon the person I am working with. This necessitates working with one individual at a time, focusing on their needs or sometimes in small groups, where there can be shared moments –a joining in rhythm for example… Sharing space, moving in relationship and at times together, aloneness and separateness become punctuated by moments of connecting through movement – which in time translates into real reciprocal communicative relationships.
Communication through bodies, movement and spatial relationships is universal because we all communicate nonverbally. It is said that up to 90% of our communication is non-verbal. Movement then is a meeting point… A bridge between two unique worlds or realities when social constructions i.e. Language, protocol, codes and convention are senseless and meaningless.
A one-size-fit all formulaic approach then is impossible. I start with who and how the person is and this takes time. Firstly I seek to understand the person and to join with them. In deep unchartered waters, I often feel lost, not knowing – and feel the pressures of my own judgement (and sometimes that of other adults in the room) as a dance professional cascade in.
The reality is that it can be difficult. The person isn’t difficult. It’s the justifying and quantifying of a slow and barely visible process that is, especially when there is an expectation (mine and others) of ‘results’. Trusting in intuition and the process however is crucial, as is working patiently at the pace of the person I am with. I am not and will not be expert – expertise creates barriers to empathetic understanding. Agendas damage the fragility of building relationships in which a person can feel safe, warm and accepted – and in any case ‘rejecting’ is still a way of relating. It is communicating a choice. Nothing is possible without relationship and the loss of relational experience means isolation, alienation, remoteness and ultimately loneliness.
A relationship founded on trust is the prerequisite to creating meaningful connection and again this takes time – longer for some than others – whether we have a diagnosis or not.

Tids’ Personal Thoughts and Reflections Inspired by Co-MmoTion So Far…


Can physical expression be a meeting point?  A convergence? A bridge of connection when personal realities are radically different and conventional modes of communication fail?

Dance improvisation and movement play unfolds from the flow of energy that is in constant dialogue between two people, who are not dependant or counter-dependant but who each in their own exploration their unique dance – with awareness of and in relation to the other.  Personal realities and experiences are can in this way be considered not from an isolated perspective but in relation to the shared human experience.  This engenders an empathic understanding, acceptance and ultimate valuing for individuals, particularly those whose realities and experiences may be radically different and seemingly incomprehensible to our own – typical in Autism.

“As life experience deepens, personal art expression expands and as personal art expression expands, life experiences deepen”

(Worth & Poyner  2004)

Our work of Co-MmoTion so far has led me to ponder and clarify artistic priorities and directions;

  • To develop an embodied, creative, sensory, spontaneous and playful person-centred approach in making dance/movement accessible and relevant
  • Further understand and exploit its potential to build relationships and establish social connection.
  • Focus not on prescriptively leading dance but on supporting participants in their own movement expression and connection with their own moving body in a way that is meaningful to them
  • To remain receptive to and creatively develop the possibilities that each person brings.

It has also inspired the growth of a personal philosophy;


We each have to find what it means to be accepting of ourselves in order to accept others


Crafting our lives out of what we have at hand – making it up and making our own sense of it.

“We improvise the moment we cease to know what is going to happen”

 (Tuffnell & Crickmay 1990: 46)


Presence and absolute absorption in the moment brings an awareness of the infinite possibilities in each moment.


Surrendering to uncertainty and trusting the unknown.  Not so much abandoning responsibility and believing in a fate beyond our control but having the faith in ourselves – our courage, resilience, resources and skills – to meet the challenge of whatever occurs.


Tuffnell, M. & Crickmay, C. (1990) Body Space Image Virago

Worth, L. & Poyner, H. (2004) Anna Halprin Routledge

Ulverston Parish Rooms with Jemma Swales Autism Services


Since beginning to plan this project under the wing of Furness National Autism Society we’ve met many new faces and groups working in our area. Our first of the new year was  with Jemma Swales, an independant Autism Support worker who presents a programme of activities for young people at Ulverston Parish Rooms.  Tids and Fitz worked with the young visitors in the morning session, and we hope to involve Jemma’s group in our plans for Co Mmotion in 2014-15.

More about Furness NAS and the individuals and groups working within and alongside  can be found here: