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Solmaz Farad

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Exploring drawing and writing in an autism-friendly environment


Writing: Making Your Mark at the British Library 

This fascinating exhibition traces writing from its roots in ancient Mesopotamia up until the near future, in which a machine predicts that we will all be sending emojis in lieu of birthday cards. On display there were different writing tools and notebooks, some from famous people like Captain Cook and Mozart.

I attended the British Library’s first ‘Early Bird’ opening, which had lots of changes to make the exhibition more accessible for autistic people. There were ear defenders on offer, noises from various exhibits were turned off and the lights dimmed.

It was fascinating to see different styles of writing and how much it has evolved. There were a few interactive sections too - like a handwriting tester. The library also had arts and crafts stations in its learning centre all centred on the exhibition. There was plaque making, hierographics and craft tissue paper lettering. Ambitious about Autism Youth Council member, Georgia Harper, got stuck into the stamp activity. 

There was also a children’s library set up and a quiet sensory area. Rachel Tutton from the British Library, who organised the event, said:

It was great that the library was able to open its doors and welcome families who would normally struggle to visit during busy opening hours. The morning had a lovely calm feel and families enjoyed the experience and freedom that the early opening offered. We plan to host three or four openings like this a year and our next event is on Sunday 17 November.

British library books


Manga at the British Museum 

When most people think of the British Museum they think of mummies, right? 

But while they are a very interesting sight, there is a lot more to the museum than that. 

I recently went along to an autism-friendly Manga workshop, held as part of the Museum’s Manga exhibition. Manga is a form of comic book made famous in Japan. They are usually printed in black and white to save money but some colour editions are available too. There are many genres of manga from shojo (girls comics), shonen (boys comics) even specialist genres like golf or curry have their own manga versions. 

The free, two-hour drawing class was a dream come true for this manga fan blogger as everything was on display - from early sketches to even anime (animation originating from Japan).

First we got to walk around the exhibition and then the manga class began, taught by Brighton-based professional manga artist Chie Kutsuwada. After a small introduction to manga, she began with the basics of drawing manga and drawing different faces. The classes were small, and we could take breaks whenever we wanted. The class overall was easy to follow and I found the drawing easy.

Manga workshop

Holly Wilson, programme manager at the British Museum said:

As part of a wider piece of work to make the museum more accessible for autistic visitors, we wanted to run a relaxed manga drawing workshop to give those who would benefit from a quieter, relaxed environment an opportunity to experience and interact with the Manga exhibition. It was great to meet the group who were so enthusiastic about manga and see their finished drawings.

Chie Kutsuwada added:

I really enjoyed running the manga drawing workshop in a nice and relaxed environment. I love sharing my passion for Manga with others and it was great to see the concentration, effort and enthusiasm the participants put into their work. I strongly hope to be a part of future workshops at the museum making history and culture accessible for all.

To find out move about events in the British Library visit their website. Writing: Making Your Mark at the British Library ends Tuesday 27 August.

To discover more about events at The British Museum, visit their website. Manga at the British Museum ends Monday 26 August 2019.


About the author
Solmaz is Ambitious about Autism's Marketing and Communications Intern. She loves writing, and also has interests in music, technology and beauty products.