Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Lateral Thinking Workshop 10th March 2013

After watching a Horizon programme entitled 'The Creative Brain - How Insight works', we devised a workshop looking at the principle of lateral thinking to stimulate the creative process.

The programme looked at ways of 'preparing for creativity', by altering habit and doing things differently from usual in order to make the creative brain work.  For example, making your breakfast in a different order.  Nele invented a new way of making her tea and tried walking up and down stairs backwards!

Students participating
Nele, Fiona, Katie, Jackson, Oliver, Nancy, Louise

The first three exercises are experiments to open up the mind, by helping to approach problems in an alternative way.

Exercise 1

Mindless drawing with a specific colour - for loosening up.  The task was to pick a colour and make as many marks with different drawing tools in it as possible within 2 minutes, using your own materials and other peoples.

Exercise 2

For this one, the idea was to force us to use a 'drawing tool' that was unfamiliar - the body itself.
The task was to form an object, chosen from a magazine or from memory, with the body, using a few small props. Preparation time: 5 minutes.  Everyone was encouraged to guess what it was.  I have put the object in bold, followed by any suggestions given.


Plant pot


Margaret Thatcher!

Hot Cross Bun
Treasure map

Light Bulb


The objects were easier to guess than I had anticipated, but they were spontaneously and delightfully creative.

Exercise 3

The Brick Test

The students were asked to write down as many uses as they could think of for a brick, within 2 minutes.

Having completed the exercises, we then set a drawing task.

Exercise 4

This was to go to the museum and pick about 4 objects to draw from an unusual angle, which would later be shown to the other students in order to guess what they were. In addition, the students were asked to suggest 'alternative' uses for these objects.


Various vases and vessels


Glass bottle tops seen through a shelf

Artichoke shaped vessel and glass figurine

Vessel and Fertility symbol

Chair and vessel

Buffalo statue

Dog shaped napkin ring

Toby jug

Salt and pepper pots



Glasses case with bullet hole

Walking stick (not an exhibit)


Gas mask

Figurine/"What the Butler Saw" viewing window'/aerial view of house model

Suggestions for these from left to right were:
A turkey/Roman hat/figurine in crinoline/Egyptian jade/amulet/bell
Letterbox/door knocker/bracket/door catch
Tape cassette/hinge/mutant turtle



Clay pipe

Fork (with pig on - artistic licence)

Decorative sculpture/coat rack


Mixed objects



In most cases, the objects were more recognisable than the artist thought, but it seemed that if the scale was altered significantly and/or the image was just a part of the original, this left more to the imagination.  We also had a time restraint, and given another opportunity and sufficient time, it may be easier to select a less obvious angle.
Dreaming up 'alternative' uses was very hard as the artists knew what they were drawing.