The personal Storytelling Workshop by Oneika Russell

The proposal submitted to the Uniarte 6+ Open Call was to create a social engagement online using a project I had just created in July 2021 called ‘The Personal Storytelling Tool #1’. Social engagements are a new direction in my art practice developed during the lockdown period to create a more sustainable, impactful, authentic, collaborative and personal practice. Previously I have worked in video/animation installations, artists books and textiles. 


‘Personal Storytelling Tool #1’ is a card deck which has 11 question cards and 41 image cards. The card deck comes from a video work ‘Voyage’ also being created to think about the individual awareness and consciousness in relation to history, ecology and spirituality. The tool seeks to encourage introspection, connection, awareness and perspective. This work references images and ideas from my own studio practice but also that of Mafalda Mondestin, Phillip Thomas and Ludgi Savon. 


‘The Personal Storytelling Workshop’ is also a new part of my practice which took place as an online event created to introduce ‘The Personal Storytelling Tool #1′ to the public via exercises. The ‘tool’ here is a card deck which can be used for self-inquiry and self-discovery as well as building a practice of social engagements. The cards use imagery from the studio practice of Oneika Russell, Mafalda Mondestin, Ludgi Savon and Phillip Thomas. The images on the deck are a part of the process of creating a collaborative animated video installation titled ‘Voyage’. Due to the Uniarte 6+ Call for Projects I was able to plan and host the first online workshop. Previously there were one on one sessions with interested persons but this workshop was meant to open this engagement experience to a more communal experience. 


In the workshop held on November 20th 2021 there were 25 spaces made available to the public via promotion on Eventbrite, Instagram and Facebook.


The activities that we worked on were:

• Introduction to the artists and the film project

• An introduction to the card deck

• Three practical exercise for the group using the deck

• Dialogue on using it for you own purposes and planning your own workshop


During the workshop participants created drawings constructing their own stories, shared their feelings about the Pandemic in a visual arrangement of cards and their own writing, poetry and art. Many of the attendees were women who are art professionals and culture workers. They gave feedback about working with the tool in a therapeutic way or with professionals in the field of Psychology and in school settings. They also said they felt the workshop was a break from the monotony of the quarantine and gave them a space to explore something different. I take this onboard and seek to expand and develop further the impact that can be made with bringing art into personal and communal experiences.


Through the workshop I was able to develop a mini pamphlet with exercises and guidance to accompany the card deck. The card deck, the one on one sessions and the workshop was opened up to the public to access through my site. I also created documentation via some edited videos on my YouTube channel and blog and social media posts. The next steps moving forward with this project are to create proposals for funding or partnerships to host more wide scale workshops and social engagements. As a part of my practice I do want to create an archive of these events and engagements as the way I see my art practice evolving. To accompany this deck I am also developing a workbook which comes from both mine and others experiences using this deck for engagements and workshops. The practice continues as well with these engagements done online as a part of building the performative aspects of the engagements.

Find out more about The Personal Storytelling Tool #1: