, ,

Audience DepthIllustrators are like actors, teachers and politicians: we are boundary catalysts, able to engage with emotionally charged, strategic, learning situations. Illustrators have always been interpreters and translators. However, in addition to illuminating a text or idea from within, or commenting from the side-lines, or speaking for others from a brief, we can take the main stage and occupy an expanded role by hosting, influencing and directing the conversation, and animating the exchange of energy and ideas.
On Wednesday 7 October Cardiff Met hosted a Clinical Innovation Wales Event in CSAD’s Product Design studio, in conjunction with the Bill Mapleson Centre. Clinicians, CSAD and Cardiff University academics, health professionals, medical innovators and designers convened to make presentations, share ideas and discuss the challenges of creative innovation. This was a meeting of applied science, creative processes and technologies, including those of CSAD’s FabLab.
At the invitation of Dr. Clara Watkins (CSAD Product Design), I led a team of Illustration undergraduates in recording the conversations live through a pop-up version of visual scribing. We invited delegates to contribute their own questions and ideas. This included the image of sharks representing threats to innovation: risk aversion, institutional inertia, fear of losing control of intellectual property, and pressures to monetise output too early in the creative process.
Tensions emerged between a proactive attitude among clinicians and legal caution among designers, between the creative individual and corporate agenda, between putting people first and asserting ownership to secure income streams. The move away from ‘silos’ and proprietary ownership, towards open source culture and technologies is playing its part in shifting the ground, not least for students and staff in the art and design school and support networks for innovation across Cardiff Met University.
I have been developing 3D forms of visual facilitation independently and with students for the past two years; in teaching, in health education and other training and engagement events. For this event I introduced a small theatre designed for a performance with Psappha Ensemble in February at the l Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester. This intimate mechanism fuses the Japanese back-of-a-bicycle kamishibai tradition, the theatre set design model, Victorian paper model theatre and shadow puppetry.
Combining theatre with the conventions of visual scribing, this pop-up arena points to new forms of facilitation. Theatre returns to its roots in the marketplace and street performance, with audience seating removed and replaced by an animated conversational space.

Professor Judith Hall of Cardiff University and Lead for the The Bill Mapleson Centre said: “We have had a wonderful afternoon of Innovation in Action here at the School of Art and Design who have done a great job of hosting the event. Our ideas and experiences have been explored and laid bare through the illustration of…both our problems and barriers to progress, but also our possible solutions. All done in a fun and interactive way, helping us achieve some clarity, purpose and direction…we must certainly use illustration of the innovative process again.”

Dr. Clara Watkins said: “Chris Glynn and Company’s use of live illustration during out Clinical Innovation Wales event provided a great source of insight, excitement and analysis. Clinicians, academics and designers alike all benefitted from the illustrations’ ability to visually represent and capture the challenges of clinical innovation and provide direction and source of discussion throughout event. In addition to being a great attraction on the day of the event, the placement of the final composition in CSAD’s Heart Space has been met with much praise.”

Pop-up Visual Facilitation Theatre by CSAD Illustration team: Chris Glynn, Maelle Chevallier, Arron Hamer, Gideon Summerfield, Helen Towrie
Photos: Arron Hamer and Chris Glynn. For further information and discussion, please contact cglynn@cardiffmet.ac.uk