Training Week in Graz, Austria

October 10th – 14th, 2016
Training Week Programme
superact in Grazread the blog post

The third training week was hosted by uniT Kunstlabor Graz in October 2016. What a wonderful, busy week with many happy encounters in three different senior house settings, in the exhibition and the seminar!

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Printing artwork in Eggenberg Care Home. Photo: Mari Salovaara
Visit to St Peter Caritas

On the first day of training we got to visit St. Peter Caritas Care Home, a collaborator of Kunstlabor Graz for already ten years with many different projects. We were warmly welcomed by the care home manager Franz Pechmann. He introduced the care home and the care philosophy followed in St. Peter Caritas. In this care model developed by Dr Erwin Böhm, nurturing the soul is seen as an essential element of wellbeing in later life. Fostering the wellbeing of mind and soul can have an positive impact on physical, bodily wellbeing too.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Manager Franz Pechmann (in the middle) introduces St Peter Caritas care home. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

We had a tour in the Care Home and its pleasant garden. Kunstlabor presented the work they do with different groups. After this, hands on with clay!

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Backyard & garden in St Peter Caritas. Photo: Mari Salovaara

We had a chance to participate in a clay workshop with the residents of St Peter. Kunstlabor had carried out similar workshops in St Peter during the Handmade Wellbeing project. The idea was to create a collaborative clay artwork in a group of 5-6 persons. Each group member would shape the clay eyes closed on their turn while the others watched. When the shaping was done, the group would look at their piece together and share their associations to name the piece.

The workshop was very interesting and provoked many thoughts. Working eyes closed was seen as a good way to reduce self criticism. It can also promote the sense of belonging in the group. On the other hand, it is good to note that working like this requires trust in other group members, so it might be best to get to know each other a little and then try this exercise.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Working with clay in small groups, one person at a time, eyes closed. Photo: Mari Salovaara

Working eyes closed one person at a time created a very intense and concentrated moment. Almost no one spoke. It was all quiet, only work with hands. This was an exciting experience; usually, people are quite oriented by visuality and speech. When both of them were missing, it was somehow easier to concentrate on physical work and the sense of touch, how the material feels like and what is it like to shape it.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Reflection after working. Photo: Mari Salovaara
Visit to Betreutes Wohnen Kumberg

The next day we visited another site of collaboration for Kunstlabor, an assisted living unit in Kumberg, near Graz. Here, all the residents have individual, barrier-free apartments with kitchen, and they can live quite independent life, if they wish so. Most of them for example cook themselves.

However, it is also possible to pay for services, for example order meals-on-wheels. There is a shared living room and kitchen in the house to gather together, and they are in regular use. The house is just in the centre of Kumberg, so all the shops and cafes are  just across the street. This makes living here pleasant and the residents we met were very satisfied.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
View from the balcony in Betreutes Wohnen Kumberg. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

We met some residents of this house and also saw some brilliant and skillful handicrafts they had made, by knitting and crocheting. Many of them liked to do crafts, alone at home but also together in the common living room.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Crafts made by the residents in Betreutes Wohnen Kumberg. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

In the evening we gathered to Theater am Lend to watch a film ‘Heim is nicht Daheim’ by Julia Laggner. This movie was filmed in St. Peter care home during an earlier Kunstlabor art project. It presented few residents in St. Peter and their life in care home.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Crafts made by the residents in Betreutes Wohnen Kumberg. Photo: Sirpa Kokko
Visit to Eggenberg Care Home

On Wednesday we had a chance to visit yet another one of Kunstlabor’s collaborators in Handmade Wellbeing -project, the Eggenberg Care Home. Daniela Leitmeyer, who is responsible of the activities in this care home, presented the house.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Printing fabric in Eggenberg. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

After this, we had a fabric printing workshop with the residents. This was also similar to what Kunstlabor artists had done here during the project. The idea was to individually print a piece of fabric with different kind stamps. The pieces would be sewn together into a tablecloth afterwards.

Handmade wellbeing Graz
Printing with stamps is easy, but versatile. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

We really had fun! You could tell the residents had done the printing before, many of them had a clear vision in mind, what to do. If not, you could just experiment. Such an easy and simple technique, but very versatile. You can write words with letter stamps, make single pictures or continuous patterns, and use different colours. None of the pieces were alike, but we noticed that sitting in small groups influenced the making: the people in same table were inspired by each other, and tried similar ways of printing.

The pieces made a nice tablecloth, which was handed to Daniela in the seminar next day!

In the evening we attended the exhibition opening. Read more about exhibition here.

Handmade wellbeing Graz
Same technique - many different outcomes! Photo: Mari Salovaara
Cultural Activities

Despite the busy schedule, we also had some time to walk around and get to know the beautiful city of Graz.

There’s a good place for some exercise and fresh air in the city centre. The Schlossberg hill with many steps to climb and a magnificent view to the city rises just above the Old Town of Graz!

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
The famous Clocktower of Schlossberg. Photo: Mari Salovaara

Graz is a member of Unesco network of Creative Cities, and holds the title Unesco City of Design. There are many places to see art and design, starting from the beautiful buildings of old town. One of the best known spots of the city must be Kunsthaus Graz, the exhibition centre for international contemporary art. A real must see!

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
From the rooftop of Kunsthaus Graz. Photo: Mari Salovaara

We also had a chance to visit Eggenberg Palace just near the Care Home Eggenberg. The weather was perfect for a nice walk in the garden of the palace.

Handmade Wellbeing Graz
Schloss Eggenberg. Photo: Mari Salovaara
Reflections & Educational Model

Friday was reserved for reflection and collaborative development of the educational model and the Handbook. We continued working on the mindmap and the content of ‘branches’, first in small groups and then sharing our thoughts in big group, complementing each other’s ideas. The discussion in big group was audio recorded for research data.

See the results of the discussion in the mindmap and the document.

educational model development sessionsee the instructions
handmade Wellbeing graz
Second Draft of Educational Model
educational model after graz training weeksee the document