Making Sense

Making Sense

Headley Court residents and Making Sense participants having their head moulds created.

What was Making Sense?

The Drive Project, together with Creative Director Al Johnson and Headley Court’s Vocational Occupational Therapist Jo Olney, designed this project especially for the patients at Headley Court. It was the first time an arts organisation had been invited to work with the patients as a form of recovery.

The initial workshop sessions were aimed at discovering what each person wanted to express about their lives and experiences, developing responses through drawing games, discussions, and analysis of paintings and sculpture. Al Johnson demonstrated the materials the participants would be using to construct the sculptures and the techniques that would be required.

Each participant made a life cast of his own head, using alginate moulding materials and plaster, and these were cast into plaster and plastics.

Who did it benefit?

This project was fairly exclusive in its approach as it was created specifically for the patients at Headley Court. Creating the sculptures meant that the participants were encouraged to tell each individual story. They could change or distort the features, they could put objects inside the head and they could develop the space around it. For some men the sculptures represented the confusion of brain injury, or the frustration of deafness, while for others the sculptural heads became an expression of isolation.

What has it achieved?

The sculptures are so powerful and tell some incredible stories; they suggest pain, regret and fear for the future, but also a willingness to explore and communicate the experience of injury, and a determination to move on and develop new ways of living.

The sculptures are tremendously moving, demonstrating the pain and isolation that is an outcome of injury, but also the determination to find a new path in life that is shared by all the participants.

“Without exception all the participants derived some kind of benefit from their involvement in Making Sense but the majority gained much more than expected, which has enabled them to move forward with their recovery.”
Jo Olney, Vocational Occupational Therapist, DMRC Headley Court

Participants carefully craft their head sculptures during a workshop

Participant with his sculpture at the exhibition’s private view, held in the Officers’ Mess at Headley Court