Programme Session Details 2024

What the Plork?

Corresponding Author: Dan Castro

All authors:

Length: 60 minutes
Location: Gallery Room 2



It’s no big secret that creativity relies heavily on play. And in order to be playful, as Bernard de Koven would put it, we have to “let [our selves] out to play” (2014, p 34-35). We need to adopt a mindset that allows us to approach things creatively, curiously, optimistically. But for creative practitioners, pedagogues, and students alike this is often loaded with the paralysing idea that in order to have value, the creative work needs to be ‘good’; and in this thought process we forget the very core of what it means to create. We forget how to play.

Based on my PhD research, this workshop establishes Corita Kent’s notion of ‘plork’ – working playfully, or playfully working – (Kent and Steward, 2008) as part of a contemporary toolset for engaging our playful selves; for worrying less and working more. Through two key processes – abstract drawing and rule-setting – participants will re-engage with their own playfulness and playful values, learn techniques that give themselves and their students permission to be playful, and ultimately create space for more playful, productive, imaginative practices. And it’s not just for creative practitioners and teachers! Anyone and everyone can benefit from reminding themselves to be more playful.

After an introduction to the themes and research, this workshop embodies the conversation between work and play in its first two parts, before bringing them together:

Part 1 – Play – participants learn about abstract drawing and conduct their own abstract drawing practices, rapidly producing colourful, energetic work not bogged down by concerns of quality.

Part 2 – Work – participants discuss rules, reminders, mantras, and guidelines that might encourage playful attitudes in themselves or their classrooms. They then write their own ‘plorkful manifesto’.

Part 3 – Plork – participants combine the two processes into a Plorkful Poster; a colourful, playful reminder of the traits that are important to them and that will help them remember to engage their playful selves more going forward.

Participants will not only come away with the physical poster, but with an understanding of the importance of non-judgemental creative practice and co-creating rulesets as ways of engaging with playfulness. They will be able to run similar workshops themselves, and encourage plork as a methodology for creating playful, creative learning environments.

Intro – 15 minutes
Part 1 – 10 minutes
Part 2a – 15 minutes
Part 2b – 5 minutes
Part 3 – 20 minutes
Conclusion – 10 mins
Contingency – 10 mins

DE KOVEN, B. L. 2014. A Playful Path. ETC Press 2014.
KENT, C. & STEWARD, J. 2008. Learning by heart, New York, Bantam Books.

References, web links and other resources:

Research blog:
Teaching/learning blog posts for University of Edinburgh:
Personal/commercial creative practice: