The skills we learn

We spend much of our time hearing, sharing and telling stories.

When I met a physical education teacher called Steve and his pupil Anush in my PhD research, their love of basketball helped me think about observation as a process of sharing (link). Ever since then, I have been contemplating about how we craft and share stories.

John van Maanen (link) and his discussion of tales from the field guided me through this sharing process and explored the rhetorical devices we use. It made it clear to me how important poetics are in what I do as an analyst (link).

This led me to think about the biographical experiences each of us have in growing up with stories and how these develop as we become analysts. We all have these story skills and they are expressed in a variety of ways as we come to know coaches and other colleagues better.

Recently, I have been thinking about how we grow our skills and the ways in which we share. I am hopeful that looking outside our immediate contexts enables us to extend the repertoire we have.

In my own work, I have become interested in the ways in which documentary presenters build and share stories.

Gus Casely-Hayford (link) conducts fascinating art walks. Through him I have been introduced to Stanley Spencer, Edwin Landseer, Dora Carrington, John Singer Sargent, William Holman Hunt and Walter Sickert. I was particularly intrigued by the Alfred Wallis walk (link).

In each walk, Gus has a companion with whom he discusses the artist and “along the way they uncover the artists’ stories, re-discover their landscapes and shine a light on local people and places caught on canvas” (link). Gus is the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (link).

Within the Fake or Fortune, and more recently the Lost Masterpieces, series there is Bendor Grosvenor (link). His research skills provide a vital foundation for the pursuit of provenance in art. I am constantly impressed by his ability to research and find minutiae in documentary evidence and his ability to synthesise these in minimalist presentations. I like his focus on connoisseurship (link) as “the detailed analysis of style and technique with the aim of identifying authorship” (link).

Most recently, I have come across the Master of Photography programs (link). What struck me about these programs is the level of critique offered to participants. The chair is Simon Frederick (link) and his panel includes Oliviero Toscani (link), and Rut Blees Luxemburg (link). The program includes mentors for the photogrophers. The one that interested me particularly was David LaChapelle (link). In the two programs I have seen (from 2016), Oliviero is constantly demanding better performance. Some of his comments seem harsh but I understand that the aim is to push photographers to the edges of what they can achieve.

I do have time to view these documentaries and reflect upon what they present. I sense that each of them has lots to share with analysts and that exposure to them extends biographical experience. I see this as an important professional opportunity and one that extends our story sharing abilities.

Photo Credits

Combshead letterbox (bobyfitzy62, Flickr)

Gus Casely-Hayford (Smithsonian)

Bendor Grosvenor (The Times)

Master of Photography Judges (Master of Photography, Sky)

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