The two overriding emotions I felt during my first two weeks at ROAR mirrored my past work experiences. Tiredness, which I put down to the early starts, and not really knowing what I was doing. Both were very quickly eased by the unique atmosphere at ROAR; working with artists was always going to be different to my other work, but little did I know just how very different it would be.
In many ways the office itself is a visual representation of the organisation. Two white boards penned with information framed the walls; blue-tacked draft proposals and mind maps confirmed this was an administration with a lot going on and a lot to organise.
Alongside this however was the quirkiness that makes ROAR what it is. I immediately noticed how all three of the main desks were very different from each other and each told me to a bit more about the person who occupied the space.
The office was also brimming with random and interesting items. On my second day I was told about the flag of positivity which hung proudly on a pole in the corner. There was also a pink pig that was stuck into the corner of the door, there to prove that pigs can actually fly. On one shelf lay an array of random goodies, rubber ducks sat in deck chairs, a tin foil hat and a Darth Vader mask.
On top of the creativeness of the office space itself, is the artistic nature of the staff. I remember being sat at my computer during my first week when I looked over to Matt who had a 2 metre cardboard pole in his hand with what appeared to me to be a rubber glove secured on the end of it. I asked what he was doing to which he responded “good question” and told me he was making a catapult (you know, standard office work).
The creation of this item did have a purpose; he was beginning to construct the ideas of a group of mentally and physically handicapped people wanted to celebrate the Holi festival but, due to their physical constraints, had come up with some ways as to how they could spread the coloured powder paint associated with the festival, in an easier and more manageable way. This was a prime example of the multi-dimensional work of ROAR and how art is integral to their work.
One time in the office we spent a good while discussing what we should call one of the plants in the window, a decision which had an important purpose and one which was a lot more difficult than you would initially imagine (we even had to google “what to call your plant” because we were struggling). On Friday I turned around and Matt was stood their with a pair of cardboard prisms attached to both his ears, held in place by what I found out later were a pair of tongs suspended over his head. Two weeks in, this sight was no longer a great surprise, it was just ROAR.