Blobs Review by Youthwork Magazine
"One of the most dynamic, flexible and innovative resources the youth work world has ever seen".
There you go, stick that on the back cover because we mean every word.
Pip and Ian’s ‘Blob Tree’ resource has been around for nearly twenty years now, making a great name for itself over that time. An A4 monochrome image, bereft of writing, it displays a large tree filled with sexless, shapeless, ageless ‘blob people’. Like stick men who’ve chomped one Big Mac too many, their simple yet animated forms are used to represent emotions, decisions, personality types and social situations. A person can point to the blob whose stance, expression or activity they most identify with, and perhaps explain why. And that’s it. Essentially, it’s just a tree full of conversation-starting blobs.
But that, of course, is the brilliance of it. Because of its simplicity, the tree becomes the perfect resource when attempting to get people to talk about themselves and their social interactions. Children enjoy the visual focus, and can discuss important issues; adults identify with the emotions presented in these abstract characters. And there’s no language involved, so the image can be used to the same effect anywhere in the world.
Pip and Ian return here with a whole book of variations on the theme, as their army of cartoons populate more than 50 new scenes. Spread throughout four themed categories, they place the blobs in a range of tree-substitutes – a playground, a protest march, a football match, a community and so on – each designed to spark a different kind of conversation and interaction.
Some examples: on looking at the book now (after all, which blob you are today doesn’t always define which blob you’ll be tomorrow), I define myself as the blob at the back of the cinema; and the blob walking through one of the ‘blob doors’. Simple and silly as they seemed at first, these little people have had a profound effect on my thoughts today.
That’s why this book is so vitally important to youth work in the broadest sense. These illustrations, though almost text free, are deceptively complex and engaging. The potential for both getting people to talk and releasing them to think, is awesome.
The acid test: I’ve tried this with young people already, and had stunning conversations off the back of it. If Youthwork ran the resource Oscars, Pip and Ian’s Big Book of Blobs would have just walked away with the award for Best Picture(s).
Editor of Youthwork (Oct 2005)