Residency 2020: Group Tutorials

This group tutorial led by Jonathan was a repeat of last year’s session with one significant difference. Not necessarily the proximity of the final show and resolution of the two year’s work but an identification, on Jonathan’s request, of the strengths and weakness of the process as well as complementary reflective activities.

We were divided into groups of three. Two people doing one job. The system works with larger groups but not too large. There is a danger with just two questioners as the session can become rather intense. The original ideal number is four or five and is most effective over a three to four-hour session.

Ask only open questions

The questions must meet two (hypothetical) conditions:

  • you do not know the answer to the questions you ask;
  • questions are asked to help the person who brings the problem in search of answers.

This is based on two beliefs:

  • that we all have an inner teacher who knows what we need better than anyone;
  • that to access this teacher we need to be in community.

Community helps: to ‘hear you into speech’ (Nell Morton, a feminist theologian).

It is very difficult to ask honest, open questions. This supports the adage, great scholar = great listener. The approach is to have so much respect for what it is you are researching that you do not want to impose what it should be that you are listening to. On the contrary, you want to hear what the work is saying. This is the essence of research.


6 minutes of silence (think about a problem, challenge, choice to be made: what you want to know about your work.

20 minutes open questions from the other two in the group.

3 minutes to reflect and write thoughts (all three people)

Repeat the 20 minutes and 3 minutes

Do not give opinions or directions.


  • This is a valuable exercise in reflective listening.
  • This does not work so well with practical/technical question because you are looking for a solution to a practical problem.
  • There is also a place for directional input which can help to avoid costly mistakes.
  • Silent crits also have their place because they avoid argument and give the listener time to assimilate what has been said without having to reply in the moment.

My Session

The session was interesting and helped me clarify certain aspects of my work and preparation for the final show. Unfortunately, the recording has been lost as have my notes for it.

I can remember though that I was able to resolve how to install the work in a light environment rather than a dark one. That the work be incised with words in some cases, that the trinity piece should be encased in a vitrine, the problem of how much should the narrative be explicatory. My responses were affirmations of what I was thinking, (thinking that I have documented since).