FIELDWORKS Research and Experiments within Art and Culture
Caroline Hick and Andy Abbott In order to fully grasp the value of art and culture we have to look beyond their capacity for entertainment. Rather, we should approach them as sites in which to try out and test new ways of being and acting together, and of understanding the world around us. Art creates different forms of knowledge and proposes alternative ways of learning about and developing ourselves and society.
Caroline Hick and Andy Abbott have used their respective roles as Fellow in Visual Art (2009 – 2013) and Fellow in Music (2011 – date) at The University of Bradford to realise a number of projects that embody varied approaches to artistic research. Caroline’s work with the nearby Canterbury Estate has found form in the Canterbury Tales project which includes carnival, permaculture and roundtable discussion. She has commissioned film and installation work as part of the Re-imagining Life with Dementia project, prompted collaborations between artists with academics in Change Spaces and encouraged new artist-led research in The Revolution is Healing and Corners. Andy’s interests have been in mapping, contextualising and furthering the rich legacy of Bradford’s Do-it-Yourself, not-for-profit and grassroots music culture, that he understands as fundamental to the identity of the city. This has resulted in a programme of themed music events and interventions; the Bradford Threadfest festival; articles and illustrations; a residency in Istanbul; and the radio programme The Mirrored Hammer. Fieldworks draws together these projects as an exhibition and publication to explore their resonances and reflect on their method and content. Collaboration, collective and participatory approaches (and the complex issues and challenges therein) are central to both Caroline and Andy’s practices. Likewise there is a shared interest in self-organised, everyday cultural activity and how this acts as a site for self-representation, the enactment of desires and the creation of agency. As a whole they test and explore the new ways of thinking and acting proposed by cultural activity and ask wider questions about what role the arts play in education and social change today.
How do you describe the role of Fellow to people that ask what it is you do? AA. I normally say it’s an academic post that doesn’t involve any direct teaching. I explain my role is to develop my own practice and research and then bring that on to campus to share with staff and students so they have access to the ‘different thinking’ cultural activity offers.
What sort of value do you think culture and the arts bring to the University? AA. I think that the self-directed learning, the free-thinking and the collaborative nature of the arts is a valuable aspect to bring to the University and to share with staff and students. As there are no arts courses, I think there is a need for spaces and opportunities in which to make up one’s own mind, exercise some subjective judgement, self-organise and experience life as a collective, open-ended experiment. And to society more generally? AA. I’ve written a lot about how art and culture are sites for experimentation with a different, non-capitalist form of subjectivity; that is, a different way of understanding one’s self, one’s relation to others and to the world more generally. I think there are important political and social resonances and implications for the ‘alternative’ experiences created by art and culture that challenge the authority of rational, scientific and individualist thought. How do you label what you do within the role of Fellow (programmer, curator, facilitator etc?) AA. I try to avoid labelling it in order to keep my activity fluid and responsive, but I feel like I’m split mostly between programme co-ordinator (organising events on and off campus) and practice-led research (evaluating and reflecting on that activity to inform future experiments). Additionally I also facilitate other artist practice on campus (helping students to form a University Music Society that makes use of the resources and shapes its own activity). Is there an agenda, concept or ethos that underpins your programming? AA. I’ve tried to be attentive to the relation between these three roles (programmer, researcher and facilitator) so that they build up a more or less coherent narrative about the value of self-organised and DIY (cultural) activity. What kind of art do you like? AA. I’m broad in my tastes aesthetically but I have a preference for any kind of cultural activity that operates outside of the music or art industry – consciously or otherwise. I tend to find the artistic expressions made by people who ignore or go against the standardising dictates of ‘professionalism’ are more authentic and exciting. How do you make decisions about the sort of art/music you wish to include in the programme? AA. A lot of the time they’re made for me! A certain band or artist will be on tour and I’ll base an event around that, or on other occasions I’ve taken things that are happening in the University or the city as context to respond to. So for Fresher’s Fortnight, when the campus is animated, I’ve programmed a series of pop-up performances by ‘avant-buskers’, or when the Film Festival was on I curated an event that explored the relationship between sound and image. Sometimes I’ll take the performance space as a starting point, which is what I did with ‘The-Almost-Well-Tuned Piano’ where I asked pianists to respond to an out-of-tune piano in a reverberant architectural space. Do you think it’s important for the audience to like what you programme? AA. I think as long as the activity provides them with an experience that is affective – that moves them in some way – and is not doubling-up or duplicating activity that can be accessed elsewhere in the city, then that’s my primary aim fulfilled. If the emotions they feel are not purely affirmative (i.e. they are scared, bored, frustrated, confused, angered etc.) that, to me, is better than simply feeling the way they expected. It’s important to appreciate the differences between a constructive artistic experience and an entertaining or ‘positive’ one:
How do you describe the role of Fellow to people that ask what it is you do? CH. The opportunity to bring my professional practice into the University setting for a period of time. To respond and engage with that environment, develop creative links and new ways of working and through doing this, further my own professional practice.
What sort of value do you think culture and the arts bring to the University? CH. Culture and the arts open up the possibility of thinking, challenging, reflecting and engaging in different ways. It allows staff and students at the University the opportunity to broaden their understanding and participation in creative activity and encourages alternative ways of viewing situations. It also provides an opportunity to work across different disciplines, using creative thinking to approach, analyse and present research data in new ways. And to society more generally? CH. Art and culture are effective gateways into critical thinking and social transformation. There are increasingly more and more examples of creative projects that look beyond the confines of the studio and are engaging in creative processes which encourage self-directed and collaborative learning. The discussion that this produces is an important part of the experience. Art and culture have a history of being a powerful vehicle to tell previously unheard stories and have the capacity to present these experiences on many levels; from deeply personal to overtly political. How do you label what you do within the role of Fellow (programmer, curator, facilitator etc?) CH. As fellow my role has been to promote excellence, research and learning through an exhibition programme, residencies and off-site projects which explore the unique contribution that the visual arts can make to our understanding of contemporary life. As such, my role has been as an exhibition programmer, a co-investigator on research projects, an initiator and facilitator of new work and projects for creative people in the district and further afield. The aim has always been that the work should extend beyond the boundaries of the arts venue into public spaces and places and to play a key role in the cultural life of the campus and the city. So I suppose on that level, I would see the role of the fellow as being a cultural agent. Is there an agenda, concept or ethos that underpins your programming? CH. A good friend of mine, a committed neighbourhood worker, once pointed to the boundary wall of the University and said how effective it was, psychologically, in keeping the locals out. That really stuck with me and as a consequence, quite a number of off-site projects, exhibitions and residencies have been about getting the locals in and the students out. If you look at the gallery website exhibition archive, you’ll see examples of this... Drawing The City, The Revolution is Healing, Bradford Raw, Daytrippers, Memory Theatre, The Salon, Corners... But it’s also been about encouraging dialogue with staff and students. Journeys and Encounters, Fight The Power and Change Spaces were as much about experimenting with ways of discussing current and critical social, personal and political situations. And finally, I have been very keen to be involved in investigative socially engaged projects that work across disciplines. No Limits: Re-imagining Life with Dementia and Canterbury Tales are collaborative projects working across the areas of health and well-being, ethics and welfare, ethno-botany and permaculture. What kind of art do you like? CH... is a hard question to answer. It’s probably easier to give examples of people or projects I admire. Melanie Friend is a photographer, whose gift to us is the way she allows her subject to speak for itself. Her recent project Border Country, presents photographs and voice recordings taken at some of the UK’s Immigration Removal Centres. I was really pleased to get to know designer Cath Braid, who has created an amazing co-operative enterprise with women embroiderers in Chitral, North West Pakistan. We were fortunate to show some of their work in an exhibition called Gup Shup. SUPERFLEX are a group of artists and designers who describe what they do as “creating tools for spectators to actively
Andy Abbott continued... they aren’t always the same thing! How do you help ensure the artists you work with have a useful experience? AA. I tend to encourage artists to make new work, try a new collaboration, or respond to the context in some way. When I’m planning events I’ll offer them the ‘concept’ of the event as something they can play with or ignore as they like. This way I hope performing in Bradford is more unique for them, especially when on a tour where things can get a bit interchangeable and samey. Do you think art and culture can effect change within the University? AA. I think in a context where education is becoming increasingly marketised and privatised where a University degree is a commodity and means-to-an-end rather than an open-ended process or experience in and of itself - then the ‘different thinking’ offered by the arts are vital. There’s a certain amount of spoon-feeding that goes on in Higher Education and whilst that may be appropriate to specific subjects or careers, University study is meant to be a time for personal development and new, challenging life-experiences, as well as for the consumption and development of knowledge. The arts can bring experiences of self-directed, independent learning, collaboration, collective selforganising and so on, which I think are crucial. It’s a cliché but young people are our future, and they need to have training in social relations that exceed and disrupt the consumptive customer/serviceprovider model. Otherwise we’ll have a generation of people that are unable to think outside of the parameters offered to them, or be unable to take the initiative using the (ever-dwindling) resources to hand, and therefore change and progress will be a thing of the past. And in Bradford? AA. Bradford’s got a rich history of bottom-up, people-led and self-organised activity where citizens have taken control of their lives, effected change and made new realities possible for all. There were the labour and co-operative movements, born as a reaction to the inequalities of the industrial revolution, and a lot of radical art and culture in the 1970s that laid the foundations for things like the 1 in 12 Club. It might be hard for people to imagine that now because many people in Bradford have a resigned attitude and cynical relationship with the council and powers-that-be who they’ve been repeatedly let down by. I think that by reconnecting and re-invigorating that attitude of ‘being the change you want to see’ through art and culture, Bradford can become a better place for people to live, work and study in. Is working in public and non-institutional spaces important to you and if so why? AA. As a musician and artist I prefer to show work and/or play in spaces that are run by the people that care about them, and that aren’t motivated solely by profit. There are a number of cooperatively run social centres, arts spaces, galleries and venues across the UK and Europe that provide this space. I feel the content of my work resonates better in these spaces. As a programmer and Fellow at the Uni I try to signpost these spaces to staff and students, as they can sometimes be a bit hard to find and, due to their alternative nature, a little intimidating to visit alone. Do you have a specific audience in mind for the activity you programme? AA. One of the most interesting things about music and art to me is their social dimension; their capacity for being sites where people come together, meet each other, where chance encounters occur and new friendships are formed. They offer a shared experience that is simultaneously both individual/internal and collective/external. With this in mind I try to programme events that will bring a diverse crowd together, or might bring people together for varying reasons. For instance, the Folk Narratives events I curated were framed as folk events but the notion of ‘folk music’ was very loosely interpreted. Some of the audience had come to hear traditional folk music and this confounded their expectations, but it brought people together that may not normally be in the same room and created a common point for discussion amongst them. What sort of conditions do you think are necessary/conducive to people engaging in culture? AA. Well, in a context of a University like Bradford where there are no arts courses then I suppose spare time has to be one of those conditions. If experiencing culture isn’t seen as central to your (career) development – as it would be if you were an art or music student – then it just remains an optional extra to engage in if and when the ‘real work’ is out of the way. Despite its centrality to our personal enrichment, not to mention the economy, ‘culture’ is still seen in the UK as a superfluous indulgence rather than as a fundamental part of our lives. So those with more spare-time (that is, time not spent working or recovering from work in consumptive leisure) are most likely to engage in culture and self-organised activity. Accessibility is important, and by this I mean audiences’ feeling that they have a stake in the culture that they are being asked to engage in, whether that means it is ‘for’ them or ‘by’ them. History and habit are important factors in people wanting to engage in culture too; it has to become part of everyday life. Inspiration is probably the most important part though, I think if audiences experience something that has its own integrity – even if it’s something that they don’t necessarily enjoy – they’ll have their interest piqued enough to seek out more. What were your ambitions and aims going into the role? AA. The role of Fellow in Music was attractive to me because I’ve seen healthy art scenes grow out of a handful of individuals or collectives with the time, energy and opportunity to make something happen. I saw the role as a chance to reignite something in Bradford as whole; to help improve the image of the city and get more people engaged in shaping its culture. What sort of challenges have you faced? AA. The main challenge was that I had underestimated the difference between the (mostly art) contexts I had worked in and that of the University of Bradford. The nature of the courses and the general atmosphere has meant that staff and students seem less used to self-organising and taking the initiative to get involved in things. It’s hard not to perceive this as apathy and at times I’ve needed reminding that the arts are meant to provide a different ‘way of thinking’ and that this might take more inspiration and persistence to embed in some places than others. Likewise it takes more explaining at the administrative, health and safety and security levels to convey the benefits of flexibility and creative approaches over one-size-fits-all procedures and protocols. What have been your highlights? AA. Over the last two years I’ve been afforded the opportunity to bring some of my favourite musicians to Bradford and it always means a lot when they have positive things to say about the city upon arrival. It feels like the reputation of the city is on the up, even if that’s within a relatively small (but international) community of musicians and music lovers! The cross-city music festival Threadfest has epitomised the willingness of the various factions of Bradford’s independent music community to work together in a generous manner so organising both instalments of that has been a joy. Seeing the Bradford University Music Society come together and an all-female committee form to take that forward has been exciting, and it’s been inspiring to see how capable they are at dealing with the teething troubles as well. My positioning within the Arts on Campus team as a whole has probably meant the most to me though; it’s a great environment in which to develop and reflect on a practice and I feel part of a creative, intelligent and committed team. I find it incredible that the University maintains the space to allow people like me to explore their ideas and practice and it demonstrates a progressive understanding of, and commitment to, the value the arts have.
Caroline Hick continued... participate in experimental models that challenge the prevailing model of economic production”. I’m currently working on a project with Jez Coram called For the Love of People, which has been partly influenced by SUPERFLEX’s approach. How do you make decisions about the sort of art/music you wish to include in the programme? CH. Budgets, time and context. For me, it’s important to programme work that engages creative people in making something new and challenging, especially in the light of working within the learning environment of the University. It’s also about finding colleagues within this context, like Dr Ruth Bartlett in the Dementia Studies department at the University of Bradford (now Southampton), who was willing to take a chance on us working together to present her research findings in a more creative and inspiring way to a wider audience. This led to the No Limits Dementia project, which explores how art can mediate change. As I touched upon earlier, it’s also about connecting the local with the global. Presenting Gup Shup, the work of Cath Braid and the women embroiderers of Chitral, Pakistan has influenced the Round Table work we are now involved in on the Canterbury estate (the closest housing estate to the University). Finally, it’s about having dialogue about things that are important, telling stories, making connections, inspiring and challenging people to maybe see things in a different way. Do you think it’s important for the audience to like what you programme? CH. I’d like people to like what I programme but don’t for a minute expect it! At best, if someone comes away feeling that something has changed or they can see something in a different way from being in an exhibition space, then that’s a bonus. Some of the best conversations I have had have been with the ladies from the café, or the security men, or the porters, who see the gallery space constantly changing. How do you help ensure the artists you work with have a useful experience? CH. Programming new work. The first project I programmed at the University was a residency for photographer Giuseppe Lambertino - his first - and our first encounter with the student body, initially called the student portrait project (this later became the exhibition Journeys and Encounters). As a curator, the conversations that develop through the process of pushing people’s boundaries are what inspire and teach me, too. Three examples of this are: 1. Working with Graham Martin on his response to Bradford as a returning artist and the work he created for The Revolution is Healing. 2. Working with Sorrel Muggridge on a collaborative project with Lisa Cumming from the Centre for Participatory Studies and Dave Robison from the School of Media called Change Spaces, an experimental project endeavouring to capture an essence of conflict transformation through a participatory installation piece. 3. Working with Jez Coram on CORNERS, a new piece that combined his projection mapping work with new ways of making work collaboratively. Do you think art and culture can effect change within the University? CH. I think it’s important to have the option there to experience different ways of looking, seeing, feeling, thinking, reacting, making. Creative thinking and reflection bring the “what if?” into the equation. The arts can bring experiences of self-directed, independent learning, collaboration, collective selforganising and so on, which I think are crucial. It’s a cliché but young people are our future, and they need to have training in social relations that exceed and disrupt the consumptive customer/serviceprovider model. Otherwise we’ll have a generation of people that are unable to think outside of the parameters offered to them, or be unable to take the initiative using the (ever-dwindling) resources to hand, and therefore change and progress will be a thing of the past. And in Bradford? CH. Bradford has a strong history of cultural activity. Relatively recent examples include the change-makers Jeff Nutall and Albert Hunt at Bradford College, the amazing British International Print Biennale (which put Bradford on the international map), the 1 in 12, Bradford Festival... these activities are an important part of what Bradford is. In these harsher times, it is even more important to remember this. One of my favourite films is The Arbor, a portrayal of the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, who wrote Rita, Sue and Bob too, the kind of film that warrants Bradford having the title of City of Film. Is working in public and non-institutional spaces important to you and if so why? CH. Absolutely! I like the permaculture way of describing how the most active and critical spaces are at the edges - where one edge rubs against another. I’d like to be operating artistically in this kind of space. Do you have a specific audience in mind for the activity you programme? CH. It really depends on the project. In the context of an exhibition programme, it’s important to offer a variety of viewpoints and work. It’s always good to surprise the visitor with a new and completely different artwork. I like the Atrium space from that perspective. It can be a little uncomfortable at times but it’s always a challenge. What sort of conditions do you think are necessary/conducive to people engaging in culture? CH. This is why I have a problem with gallery spaces sometimes... Especially in the context of a University with no art department. It can be problematic getting people through the door. I know other gallery spaces have the same threshold problem. We’ve experimented with all sorts of different ways of getting people involved in some of the more interactive gallery exhibitions. At the same time, there’s got to be a willingness or an openness to make that step over the threshold... Graham Martin’s Revolution Run, involved two female runners wearing running gear and carrying flags that said The Revolution is Healing, The Revolution is Feeling, respectively. They followed a route through the city centre and past a variety of hotspots and memorable spaces. They gave out little flags and flyers. At this level, I would suggest people were engaging in culture by witnessing the event. It’s that borderline thing again... What were your ambitions and aims going into the role? CH. I definitely saw it as a chance to work within a higher learning institution and hopefully an opportunity to bring something fresh to the gallery space. I was certainly keen to develop links with different departments and links between the University and the district. What sort of challenges have you faced? CH. It has been a little solitary at times but the factors that made this the case also allowed me the freedom to experiment. What have been your highlights? CH. Many, but here’s three: I am really pleased to have been involved with an amazing team of people on the Dementia project and the feedback from the occasions where we have shown Anne Milne’s film, Agnes and Nancy - a road movie if ever there was one - has been tremendous. That makes me very happy. Bumping into Robert Galeta, a teacher of mine from college, on Chain Street (one of the first social housing schemes in the country) whilst carrying a bucket of Revolution is Healing flags and giving him a red and blue plaster. Yep, that was mighty good too. Making rope with people as part of the Change Spaces exhibition. You can’t make rope on your own.
GUP SHUP TO ROUND TABLE - 4 / 5 / 6
Bradford: City of The Self-Organised Future? | Andy Abbott – 7 / 8
DIY Activity (Diagram) | Andy Abbott - 9 DIY Rorschach (Diagram) | Andy Abbott - 10 Free Time and Postcapitalist Subjectivity (Diagram) | Andy Abbott - 11 Alain Badiou’s Production of Subjectivity (Diagram) | Andy Abbott - 12
Bosphorus Reflections: Revealing the Conditions Conducive to DIY Culture | Andy Abbott - 13
CORNERS | JEZ CORAM - 14 / 15
Privileging Place: Reflections on involving people with dementia in a residency Bartlett et al, 2013 - 16 / 17
changing spaces - 18 / 19
REVOLUTION RUN | GRAHAM MARTIN - 20
GUP SHUP TO ROUND TABLE
The domestic as site for creative participatory process and action – Part 1
Pot Swap, Polly&Me
What does it mean to be a person living in a city who wants their city to grow…in more ways than one; be more self-reliant, able to feed its inhabitants, raise the land-based skill level of people living in the city and ultimately reconnect people to the land they’re living on, which in turn enhances well-being? This is about connecting people to themselves, their spaces and growing wherever we can. Charlie Gray, Grow Bradford
table? As an arts programmer or curator, how can I help to affect change? What special ingredients can I bring to the mix?
The trail that led to the off-site project Round Table, took a circuitous route from a Gallery II exhibition in 2010 called Gup Shup, through the 1mile² Bradford project, visual annotation work for refugee and asylum seeker conferences and meetings to Grow Bradford and Canterbury Tales. The thread that runs through all of this is the desire to bring people together, to share skills, to tell stories and to hopefully build stronger communities.
It’s taken a while sometimes, working with various communities around the University, to work out what is needed in terms of a good skills interchange. With Round Table, we have come via visual annotation and collage, back around to embroidery. As I write this, we have had one Round Table meal but a lot of discussions, meetings, partnerships, laughter and tears and embroidery sessions. Round Table is as much an intentional statement as an actual event or series of events and workshops. We do get people round the table but we also send our lovely piece of work out to individual homes and to other groups. It’s like a soft and silent ambassador, inviting people to join in the conversation, stitch by stich. It’s also like planting something and then watching it grow.
It’s quiet work, really. It exists in small places, in community centres, in houses, in offices. It’s quiet but it speaks volumes. It’s also a lengthy process. It takes time to build trust, to create equitable relationships. It’s not necessarily about results. Sometimes it has to become something else. It’s about our everyday lives, about the domestic, the practical, the necessary. It’s more often than not women’s work. When I met Cath Braid in Gallery II – direct from Pakistan, as she unpacked her suitcase and began to show me in a very modest way some of the amazing work she had created with the women embroiderers – I remember being bowled over by this marrying of Cath’s design flair and imagination with the women’s embroidery skills and stories. Sometimes it’s hard to pin down what that special ingredient is, but Cath’s work had it in spades. It was the pragmatic approach I liked too. So what can I bring to the
The 1mile² project, which inspired communities to explore the cultural and ecological diversity of their neighbourhoods did this through bringing international artists into the mix. I first met ethno-botanist (people and plants!) Charlie Gray, in the Bradford version of the project. Charlie was concocting teas made from vegetation she had sourced locally. She really got the working with artists bit. We’ve had some great conversations about practically everything you can think of. Mixing it up has its benefits.
www.growbradford.org.uk www.pollyandme.com www.shaeron.com Many thanks go to Cath Braid, Charlie Gray and Shaeron Caton-Rose, for being such good eggs. So here’s a bit of a chronology of projects, my Round Table family tree if you like...
from Textile to Tote. Cath Braid, Rolla Khadduri and women’s embroidery collectives in Chitral. 8 March - 16 April 2010. Gallery II The Domestic, The Narrative and Cups of Chai Gup Shup was an exhibition of large, contemporary, hand-embroidered textile pieces and gorgeously sumptuous designer bags which presented the private space inhabited by rural women of Chitral. The pieces illustrated the ebb and flow of the daily lives of female artisans - the everyday comings and goings, the ventures of child rearing and home-making and the more special events that colour their lives. Polly&Me is a social enterprise working with women embroiderers in Chitral, a remote region in Pakistan. Through a series of creative workshops, the women they work with explore their inherent creativity, gaining confidence to translate the rich tapestry of their lives into the visual, using a medium in which they are fluent; embroidery. Cath Braid (a graduate from Central St Martins) and Rolla Khadduri joined forces to create a unique partnership, called Polly&Me. The communities they work in are coloured by the language of aid and donor; “female empowerment”, “improved literacy rates for women” and “equal opportunities”. Aspiring to similar ideals, their work and approach does not fit within the conventional box of rural development. Working with MOGH Limited, a shareholder company owned by the artisans, Polly&Me create income generating opportunities for skilled women across the valley. Tradition and culture prevail in this conservative mountainous community, where few socially acceptable work opportunities exist for women outside the home. Polly&Me has many partners and approaches to the making of each collection. Every piece tells a story.
A Polly&Me arts workshop, MOOG Ltd
Canterbury Tales A continuing off-site project supported by Touchstone, Near Neighbours & Bradford Council
Canterbury Tales is a programme of work that aimed to bridge the gap between the University and the immediate district. Canterbury Estate is a 1930s housing estate characterised by high levels of deprivation and social exclusion. The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2010 indicates that 99.4% of the children living in the reach of the school and children’s centre with which we are working live in the top 30% of most-disadvantaged areas. Canterbury has a diverse population with increasing numbers of people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds and EU migrants. Canterbury Partnerships took up the idea of Canterbury Tales and developed a mission statement: The aim is to empower the community, 0–90 years, through inspiring art projects and learning opportunities and by creating spaces and events for divergent communities to come together and share their stories. Our aim is also to raise status, expectations, a sense of ownership and belonging and to create positive change in the community. There will be a strong emphasis on skill-sharing, to develop a sustainable legacy within the community. Partners include: Horton Park Primary School, Canterbury Nursery School & Centre for Children and Families, Grow Bradford, Cecil Green Arts, the ARC Activity and Recreation Centre, Touchstone and Incommunities.
Charlie Gray, Horton community Farm
Growing plots and sites was a Gallery II initiative in partnership with Grow Bradford and was a direct legacy of the 1mile² Bradford project supported by BMDC. Charlie Gray facilitated food-growing plots and sites with local residents. Building on the ethics and principles of permaculture, the main thrusts were to link land (earth care), people (people care), and social justice (fair shares). The project included developing growing sites in Horton Park Primary School, Canterbury Centre for Children and Families, Horton Park and more informal sites on the Canterbury estate, including walkways, “hotspots” and other spaces where we guerrilla gardened and carried out positive creative interventions.
Shaeron Caton-Rose, visual annotation from Bradford women’s refugee and asylum seekers conference
Our first Round Table meal Round Table is inspired by the ethics and principles of permaculture and develops from visual annotation work by Caroline Hick and Shaeron Caton-Rose and the Growing Plots and Sites work with Charlie Gray from Grow Bradford. Shaeron Caton-Rose guides the creative activity with Charlie Gray connecting the food growing, sourcing and cooking aspects. Round Table has been supported by Liz Firth from Touchstone, who has been a firm friend and partner from its infancy. Round Table aims to bring people who live and work around Canterbury estate and its immediate environs together, through invitation, to a creative, safe, reflective and social space. It uses the idea of the shared meal as a way of breaking down barriers and encouraging a sense of community. The aim is to use creative processes to find common ground, grow connections, share experiences and document the journey. Initially, guests are invited to create a place mat to bring to the table and during a meal â€“ using food sourced and cooked locally â€“ conversations and connections are literally drawn on the tablecloth as a way of capturing the discourse. The tablecloth from this event and is made into a pattern and together with further place mat templates, they are embroidered by self-selecting participants as a fortnightly activity.
Round Table embroidery session
Bradford— City of the Self-Organised F u t u r First presented by Andy Abbott as part of Just Do(ing) It: The Politics of DIY and Self-Organised Culture - a day of presentations, workshops, films and discussion about DIY culture and its social, political and economic resonances - at The 1 in 12 Club on May 10th 2013. I’m not originally from Bradford, but I’ve ended up here and happy to call it home. I feel both settled and excited by the place. There’s a potential in the air of Bradford that, for those with utopian tendencies, is quite addictive. The role of Fellow In Music at The University of Bradford has allowed me to reflect upon what it is I, and others with a penchant for the alternative and gritty, find attractive about the city. When I started the role in 2011 I wrote a blog post that explained that Bradford felt on the cusp of a ‘revival of a distinctive, heterogeneous and energetic grassroots music scene.’ Eighteen months on and I still feel the grassroots scene is strong and energetic. Whilst there may not have been a huge explosion, Bradford’s reputation as a city with a vibrant underground arts community is growing and there’s enough going on to prompt the question from afar ‘why does Bradford have such a big DIY scene?’ To address that question we need to clarify what we mean by a ‘DIY scene’. Do-It-Yourself - as an ethos, methodology and/or community - means different things to different people. In general though we can say it points towards something that is peopleled rather than institutional; that is self-organised and ‘bottom-up’ rather than ‘top-down’. To use some Marxist jargon, it involves the creation and reclamation of the means of production and the resources that allow ‘the people’ to implement and control the activity that they will benefit from, and, accordingly, that allows them to shape their own lives. Commonly accompanying this collective self-management, or emerging from it, are a set of ethical principles and ideals that include transparency, inclusivity, a willingness to share and collaborate, not-for-profit motivation, and so on and so forth. This ethos that underpins, and is developed through, DIY and self-organised activity has political and socially transformative resonances. For the majority, daily existence is governed by the parameters and laws of the economy and state. DIY activity offers a momentary break and proposes an alternative self-governed, more open-ended world. This is not to say DIY activity only happens away from, or outside of, everyday life under capitalism. We get glimpses of this radically different world through a variety of pursuits including hobbies and pastimes, co-operative work and living, worker’s resistance and activism, through to alternative cultural activity like underground music and noninstitutional art. No matter how humble or innocuous, nearly all of us are involved in some form of DIY activity or spend at least a portion of our time doing something that is motivated by love-not-money.
Photo: Jonathan Wood
The indicator of a healthy DIY scene is, for me, when the radically transformative implications of such self-organised activity are able to resonate: when the ‘other world’ it proposes is tangible and those participating feel like they have a part in building it. When this happens self-organised activity is capable of helping us gain distance from and subsequently question - the principles, rules and behaviours that are naturalised by capitalism. DIY as a term and method, however, is becoming more and more commonplace - more part of this late capitalist world - particularly in the last few years. This is a result of an increasingly neoliberal free market economy, and a form of government that relies heavily on entrepreneurialism, adopting a patronising and violent rhetoric of ‘strivers’ and ‘skivers’ to embed its dogma. In this conservative form, DIY is nothing more than a synonym for ‘enterprise’ and all activity done for love is turned into a competitive, profit-driven pursuit. Elsewhere the DIY ethos is used as an excuse for those in power to relinquish responsibility for basic services (healthcare, social work - anything that cannot turn a profit) to ‘the people’ whilst simultaneously withholding or eradicating the resources necessary to provide those services. The version of DIY I am interested in, however, disrupts and undermines this neoliberal ideology and proposes a much grander upheaval in the way we think, act and work together. In its radical form, DIY is not a steppingstone towards entering the system, or a crutch with which to prop it up, but the creation of its alternative. So why is this alternative activity so seemingly commonplace and resonant in Bradford? There are a number of factors and conditions conducive to a DIY scene, some of which I’ll outline now:
A Lack Much DIY activity emerges from a void or a lack. ‘If no one is going to do it for us then we’ll do it ourselves’. There is less mainstream activity in Bradford than in cities of an equivalent size. The reasons for this are many and the finger-pointing, disappointment, frustration and resentment that it has caused is often debilitating. But for many the lack of culture ‘on offer’ means that creating our own is a better and more effective solution than complaining, campaigning and waiting for it to be delivered from above.
Resources and Space This lack produces an abundance of a different resource; free space. Bradford is one of the most affordable cities in the UK. Rent and living is cheap. In a perfect world this, combined with the fact that work is less available, produces a populace with more free time than elsewhere. Unfortunately, under the current government’s austerity programme combined with a neoliberal economy that turns all activity into work, free time is being eradicated for all but a privileged elite.
In Bradford, there is also an abundance of empty and vacant property, from shop units to industrial mills. This has allowed a history of occupation and squatting of buildings. Officially, rates and rent are affordable enough to start new initiatives with less outgoings. The current ‘loophole’ that allows charities and arts organisations to occupy ‘meanwhile’ spaces and temporarily vacant business properties to the benefit of the landlord is also well exploited in Bradford.
Permission and Support A less antagonistic or romantically oppositional reason for the wealth of self-organised activity in Bradford is due to the progressive rationale and commitment of individuals and organisations with control over money and resources. Although there is a history of corruption and of people being let down by those who wield power, Bradford also has more than its fair share of officials whose attitude is to share and distribute, to act as a facilitator rather than dictator of activity and to give permission to those who want to realise their dreams. This is seen in segments of the council, University, colleges and arts organisations, down to the small businesses and pubs. Indeed the attitude - whilst by no means universal - is prevalent enough to be something of a Bradford characteristic and is a principle that the cultural sector has rallied around.
Legacy and Tradition This brings us to the perhaps most interesting aspect of Bradford in relation to its DIY scene; a history of self-organised activity and non-conformist activity. Whilst a comprehensive mapping project of this kind is certainly in order, I’m sadly unable to perform it here. Suffice to say there have been numerous instances that contribute to a picture of Bradford as a hotbed of radical activity. These would include, but not be limited to:
The townspeople of Bradford ‘driving off ’ the Royalists in the civil war of 1698 despite being ‘on their own’ in supporting Parliament, using ‘sacks of wool and sheets round the church to save it from cannon fire.’
Bradford as the wool capital of the world in the 19th Century was the birthplace of much worker’s resistance from people who experienced the inequalities and violence of capitalism harder than anywhere else. One reaction was the formation of The Independent Labour Party, founded in Bradford in 1893, which although not socialist in name accepted that the object of the party should be ‘to secure the collective and communal ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange’
The influx of migrant workers, mainly from the Indian sub continent, following the decline of the manufacturing industries in Bradford in the 1950s and who successfully established their own communities in the city. More recently the East European communities are doing the same, prompting a lot of cross-cultural collaboration.
The proliferation of radical art and theatre in Bradford that emerged in the late 60s from the University and art college and included figures like Albert Hunt, Jeff Nuttall, Chris Parr and David Edgar which in turn inspired politicised theatre groups like The Welfare State, The General Will and Café Despard who dealt more specifically with queer, feminist and identity politics.
This was closely tied with the CND movement and the Peace Studies department at the University. Many of the people who came to or stayed in Bradford to partake in these activities have had children that are now of age to be contributing actively to the city.
The Bradford Festival that ran in the 80s until the early 2000s and Bradford Mela.
The musical activity of Bradford has also had an independent and non-mainstream flavour as well chronicled in Gary Cavannagh’s book ‘Noise of The Valleys’
The 1 in 12 Club was established in 1980s as an affordable ‘dole queue disco’ for and by
members of the claimants union. It took place in various function rooms and cellars in pubs across Bradford before they were able to secure a permanent home on Albion Street. The 1 in 12 Club is now one of Europe’s longest-running and most established autonomous social centres run on anarchist principles, has played host to bands from all over the world, operated as a hub for political organisation and social movements and has inspired and acted as a model for other social centres in the UK including Brighton’s The Cowley Club, Nottingham’s Sumac Centre, The Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle and Wharf Chambers in Leeds.
Inspiration As well as the importance of local historical examples of self-organised and DIY activity, the perception of being surrounded by like-minded activity is important to a healthy DIY scene. In Bradford at the moment there are venues including the aforementioned 1 in 12 Club, The Polish Club, The New Bradford Playhouse and Theatre in the Mill at the University, all of which programme or host activity that promotes the ethos of inclusivity, participation and self-management and operate on not-for-profit principles. Likewise recently active groups, collectives and organisations like No Hands, DIY or Die, Oriental Arts, Artfarmers, Loosely Bound, Black Dogs and How Do?! are engaged in different forms of self-organised activity, promoting principles of independence and collectivity. All of the above goes some way then to mapping out the conditions and landscape conducive to DIY activity. This is not to suggest, however, that DIY activity in Bradford is unproblematic or inherently more radical than elsewhere. Indeed, Bradford’s self-organised activity dips and peaks, and faces the challenges of being both ‘within and against’ capitalism, in much the same way as any other city. The area in which Bradford differs from many other Northern cities, however, is in the particular flavour of the self-organised activity here. Whereas in Liverpool, Manchester and to a lesser degree Newcastle, Sheffield and Leeds, DIY cultural activity acts as a driver of gentrification for the city, this process is yet to properly take a hold in Bradford. This might be by default rather than design but regardless it presents a city at an interesting crossroads. Bradford is a place with a wealth of self-organised activity (past and present) where it is clear from a quick glance around that the capitalist paradigm is neither fair nor sustainable, nor has it ever been. The failures of that mode of distribution - with its principles of private property, self-interest and ‘healthy competition’ - are manifest in the fractured social and physical cityscape, whilst its alternative bubbles away and thrives in the cracks and vacant spaces that are left. In this climate, then, questions about the future that self-organised and DIY activity suggests begin to take on more significance. In their manifesto ‘The Future is Self-Organised’ Stephan Dillemuth, Anthony Davies and Jakob Jakobsen turn the idea that DIY activity is conducted by mainstream cultural production on its head. They describe critically how, instead, under late capitalism the relation between the underground and the establishment is reversed: the margins dictate and feed the institutions; and the mainstream looks to the grassroots for its tactics and strategies. When self-organised activity refuses to co-operate and feed the establishment, then, it acts as ‘the first tentative steps towards realisable freedoms’. Alongside this call for conscious resistance are demands for the immediate redistribution of the funds currently held by institutions to self-organisations that uphold and are capable of implementing the principles of transparency, accountability, equality and open participation. This demand might seem utopian, especially in the current political context, but it serves to prompt a re-evaluation of such activity, the effect it has and the future it proposes. Because of its ‘big DIY scene’ can we begin to think of Bradford and places like it - where the narrative of neoliberal regeneration is less smoothly plastered and the fissures are more obvious - as cities of the self-organised future? What social relations emerge when we are ‘just doing it’ rather than engaging in activity as a means to an economic end? What types of individual and collective subjectivity are formed and experimented with beneath the radar? Are new realities forming in the cracks and void spaces? In the new ruins of capitalism is a fairer, more sustainable, postcapitalist form of organisation being played with and developed? If so what can be done to secure and expand it to all? What world does it open out on to and how might we end up getting there together? DIY cultural activity may seem innocuous and at times not just a little indulgent but its resonances are radical.
Blog article written by Andy Abbott in February 2013 Photo: Yvonne Carmichael
Revealing the Conditions Conducive to DIY Culture
In January 2013 I was invited through Gasworks (a London-based art organisation) to take part in a five-week artist residency at PiST/// in Istanbul. PiST/// is a two-person, not-forprofit, independent art organisation run by artists Didem Osbek and Osman Bozkurt. We had met previously when the artist collective I am part of, Black Dogs, participated in No Soul For Sale at Tate Modern in 2010. We were both dubious of the logic underpinning the event: a showcase of non-institutional and independent art activity that, oddly (to us at least), took place in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations. PiST/// appreciated Black Dogs’ critical contribution that involved totalling up the entire (non refunded) costs of all the artist groups that took part and making this known to the public via the question ‘How Much did Tate Modern NOT spend on its birthday party?’ An element of my proposal for the residency was to continue the practice-led research I have been conducting - as an artist, musician, writer and through my role as Fellow in Music at Bradford University - into self-organised, DIY, non-institutional and underground cultural production. My interests are in the social, political and economic resonances of activity that defies easy categorisation as either ‘work’ or ‘leisure’, and the alternative (non/ post-capitalist) worlds that such activity suggests. I planned to do some digging around the art and music scene to find sites in which self-organised culture was emerging in Istanbul. In my experience: where there is alternative music and artist-led activity, alternative politics and radical social imaginaries are never far away. I had visited Istanbul twice before. In 2009 for the art biennial, with my girlfriend and partner (in art crime) Yvonne Carmichael, and then in 2012: to play with my band That Fucking Tank. In both cases I came away wanting to know more, feeling like we had only experienced the commercial, slick surface of a city that must have more to offer in terms of independent, non market-led, non-institutional activity. On this trip I began my search for the murky underground through a number of venues, cafes and art spaces that I had either visited previously or that were recommended by friends involved in the independent music and art scene. Many of these were very pleasant and populated by excellent people that I subsequently got to know better. At Peyote I saw some interesting local bands (Mondual, Ah! Kosmos, Grup Ses Beats) and great DJs. In Kutu Café I met a group of friends that play in bands (Ricochet and Kim Ki O) and run a magazine called Bant that covers independent and leftfield art, music and film. At the Istanbul Biennial press launch I was pleased to see an audience member challenge the sincerity of the politicised rhetoric used by the curator and organisers. The question came from an artist-activist, Niyazi Selçuk, who had performed a number of actions highlighting the corrupt nature of the sponsorship relations that sustain Istanbul’s market-led art scene. Bahar Yigitbas is in the early stages of setting up an alternative school with environmental sustainability as one of its core values. Later in my trip I met a young artist collective called Kaba Hat who had recently rented a dilapidated space in an area of Istanbul earmarked for gentrification and in which they plan to hold an exhibition reflecting on this context. As well as via these dispersed but interlinked individuals, groups and spaces, I experienced the grassroots culture of Istanbul just by walking through the streets. These are peppered with musicians, food vendors and street performers at almost all hours of the day and give the impression of a city brimming with non-institutional, people-led art, music and culture. As I began to ask more questions of my hosts and new acquaintances, however, a slightly less comprehensive picture of DIY activity in Istanbul began to form. Where are the social centres? Where are the non-profit, non-slick music venues? Where are the artist-led spaces,
the community squats and the co-operatively run businesses? Where do the punks and weirdos hang out? Where are the volunteer-run spaces that are defined and managed by their users? Although these sorts of places are relatively few and far between (and mostly off-the-map) in the UK, they can be found with a bit of persistence. We have, for example, the 1 in 12 Club in Bradford, Wharf Chambers and Cornerstone in Leeds, Suma in Halifax, Bloc and S1 Artspace in Sheffield to name a close-by few. In mainland Europe such places are more commonplace, from the network of tiny-but-numerous artist-run studios and galleries of the Netherlands that appear in every disused tower block and industrial area, to huge formerly-squatted alternative cultural centres like Metelkova in Ljubljana. But, despite my best efforts to uncover them, I found the Istanbul equivalents to be evasive. So, a lot of the conversations I had with local practitioners and musicians turned to why - in a city of 14 million people that spans two continents - independent, collectively-run, self-organised spaces of the sort dotted across the UK and Europe are non-existent or unknown to even the interested underground art and music community. The responses I received varied from the self-depreciating and personal - ‘Turkish people are too lazy and self–interested to organise collectively and make things happen; its not in our culture’; to the pragmatic and structural - ‘Rent is too high to allow anything that isn’t for-profit to survive, the city is corrupt and there is a Turkish mafia that demand paying too’; to the political - ‘There is a genuine threat of censorship and even imprisonment for stepping out of line and challenging the neoliberal agendas of the government.’ Furthermore, I began to pick up on how these hostile and marketised conditions shaped and standardised the cultural activity I was experiencing. I became more aware of the over-produced and professional, reserved character of many of the bands I saw. A symptom, I began to hypothesise, of a lack of basements and low-cost rehearsal spaces in which bands have the freedom to play as wild and as long as they like, such as those we have in Leeds (and one of the contributing factors to John Peel’s now famous observations that LS6 postcode has more bands per square meter than anywhere else in the country). Likewise, the majority of the art that I saw, even in the independent spaces, was object-based and gallery and collector-friendly, rather than performative, dematerialised, socially-engaged or interventionist. Istanbul’s overcrowded, 24-hour, super-paced, rapidly-gentrified nature occludes the cracks, gaps, pauses and void spaces that are plentiful in post-industrial cities in The North of England, and from which the most interesting and socially-transformative art and culture emerges. Although my experience in Istanbul was incredible, and I haven’t outlined here the many positive and wonderful things about the city and my experiences there, I returned with a renewed appreciation of what we have in Bradford. Spaces like the 1 in 12 Club and The Polish Club in which we can host experimental gigs and free club nights; empty shop units, mills and warehouses that can be used by artists and collectives as impromptu galleries and studios without the fear of them being turned into hotels next week; a tradition of worker’s resistance, class-composition, self-management and grassroots organisation from which we can draw inspiration and tactics to explore the space (concrete, social and imaginary) between that dictated by the state and the market. In short, a culture where free time, free space and free thought is available to those willing to seek, grab a hold and make best use of it. Such spaces in which to self-organise and experiment, to do our thing without being at the mercy of either private or public forces are, as my Istanbul experience illustrated, not universal. As such, they deserve our full appreciation, utilisation and, in an environment where the drive for profit threatens to enclose all of life, defence when and where necessary. Bradford might seem on the surface a little empty and still at times, but underneath it’s got as much going on as places forty times its size.
CORNERS | JEZ CORAM
The domestic as site for creative participatory process and action – Part 2 Three Bradford residents Geoff Smith, Barry Langroyd Hanson and Graham Binns answered a call out placed by artist Jez Coram in the T & A and invited him into their homes to create this project. They worked with him to collect material, photos and video footage of their living spaces and spoke about their homes, possessions, furniture and memories. The trusting relationship between Jez and the residents became central to the work. Jez also showed work by artist Yvonne Carmichael who approached the commission as a residency in her own home creating a series of short performances; these were small actions referencing everyday tasks and chores, domestic and female labour, or simply responding to overlooked or interesting formal and architectural elements of the home. What follows here is a piece of creative writing by Jez Coram, based around the Corners exhibition which took place in Gallery II between December 2012 and February 2013. Caroline Hick
A Journey into the Home 1.
I stand in a white shell with a wooden base. The man or men that constructed this shell formed a rectangular hole into the wall of the shell and now I have a glass window with no curtains. Standing there on the first floor in that shell looking out at the houses across the street lit by the tangerine hue of the street lamps I imagine some of the residents of the homes tucked up in their beds on their parallel level. Other folk moving around their homes, talking to family members, shutting curtains, turning lamps off, putting out cats. Without due notice the corners contort popping in on themselves, an unconscious retraction decided upon minutes ago. The walls, shells, armatures and architectures pass away into the night suspending the residents in a temporary static state up and down the street. I think about how close I am to the person next door, just six inches of brick and plaster, and how close I am to the people in the house at the end. With no framework or furniture the people in this state of temporary suspension re-animate and continue to move about their business or just carry on sleeping. I watch them for a while, all in close proximity, one man is so close to the lady in the next home he could lay out his finger tips on her shoulder. All are in their own separate worlds. My phone goes and the walls reconstruct. Oscillating from the virtual to the real to the virtual I check my message and continue to hang the curtains in my new home. … Seeping the wrong way down my nasal cavities an acrid smell enters my consciousness. I sit at our new dining table and chairs, bought from a seller on Ebay for twelve pounds. When we visited to collect it a lady, living in the large Victorian red brick three storey semi-detached house, told us she raised her children around the table and was sad to see it go. I sit searching for an update on my phone, what position am I in the fantasy football league? As the league table slowly loads the smell continues to creep in. Vinegar My first home. Across the road from the vinegar factory. I stand outside looking down the path at the prefabricated patterned concrete wall adjoining the house and feel the rough skin on my hands, scuffed from climbing the wall to escape to play in the grass at the front of the factory site. Entering the back door of the house my subconscious clears the step for me and I move into the wood veneered kitchen, through the stone clad fire place living room, up the carpeted stairs, around the landing top and into my bedroom. The large white wooden box jutting into the room, housing the cut off from the stair well. I sit on the bed looking at my white wooden bookcase and the cassette box. There is something from my childhood inside that I have left behind. I glance out through the window from my interior to the exterior and see the factory dominating the view. I open the cassette box and it beeps. My phone has loaded and I am second in the league. The memory begins to fade in my
mind and the smell continues to linger in my nose. … The spaces I inhabit continue to oscillate. I come back to that step and how you know it’s there without thinking and the step leads me back off to looking around a potential new home and the reason for getting that feeling that this is the one. Is it the imprint of your first home resurrecting itself, subconsciously recognising this new home? Are we mapping the space in our heads, without knowing, the architecture, the geometries, bringing in our other senses, the smells, is there a processing of the minute negligible detail? Looking for a close variant, could it be an acoustic memory, an acoustic awareness, are we trying to fit a psychology into the architecture? What happens when we get inside, how do we then try to affect it? There is a conscious and subconscious landscape charting itself. Is this exceptional or typical? How is the home imprinted upon us, that innate awareness of the hidden step? Do we have a preference for the virtual now? Movements through the house, moments of stillness and the vastness contained. How do I find that innate imprint? How do we map this landscape? How do I create this installation? Here be dragons.
My house is a work of art, Graham tells me on the phone. I enter three new homes. How will I do these gentlemen justice? Barry describes to me how he has painted a giant cricket ball onto the side of his house. Geoff recalls visiting John Braine in the infirmary, giving him pointers on his new manuscript, A Room at the Top. Writing poetry throughout his life, a master of words, Geoff has devoted sixty-two years to maintaining this one shell, accommodating a family to come to pass. Bebe Manga, plays out over the stereo in Barry’s front room. Political atrocities drift up through the space on the back of a melancholic melody that enters the coloured water visions of Yorkshire and Cameroon hooked to the walls. The VHS player clicks in and the cog catches the tape in its clockwise turn. Barry’s face appears on the TV. The armatures of the dark frames hang around us as we watch the interview recorded from Cameroon national TV during the 1990 Football World Cup. A palimpsest surrounds me, layers of newspaper headlines, a floor to ceiling collage of imagery, a fourteen year cathartic process. Graham’s house is a work of art, curated and constructed to pleasing precision. We gravitate to the kitchen cupboard together, the doors to this chamber open as the display presents itself for inspection. Graham, a gentle and hospitable man, hands me a postcard with two donkey’s on the face. They stand there chewing the cud. Doubt has entered my house. He has taken up residence in the dining room, a stray cat hiding in the dark space under the wicker chair. I leave him there for now and go to the kitchen, wash some dishes, and drink a small cup of tea. … Wrestling with the joints and geometries of the internal structure, the wardrobe doors lay out on the floor in front of me like the forgotten tombstones of two Kings. Disassembling a wardrobe should be an ordered process. I rushed, following a disordered process, hasty in dismantling the enclosure, wanting to quickly reassemble in the adjacent room. I am moving bedrooms, to the back of the house. Detailing further these homes of wonder, I continue to explore the wunderkammer, conversations contract and expand to form circumstance and chance. Geoff, Graham, Barry and I talk at length during intimate and repeated encounters in the homes. A military van transports me alongside Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe over a jar of hot chocolate in Geoff ’s Kitchen. Worries of witchcraft and Takenbeng connect across the black and white in the pages of a Cameroon newspaper in Barry’s front room. Eton Rifles, 1997, playing in bands, and Ebberston Hall attach to the collaged walls as I sit across from Graham in his front room. We map out these new territories, these landscapes we have formed between us. At the centre stands the kitchen cupboard, the opening of the doors to reveal its utopia. …
Shadowed window frames on the back wall of the dining room pushed horizontally by the intermittent clockwork hand of the late afternoon sun. What will it take to realise truthfully? Charting landscapes with three gentlemen, conversations into homes are fabrics, weaved over decades. New relationships grow and nothing is more encouraging in their growth than the patience of time and conversation. A framework constructs itself organically from one corner to the next. I sit at the wooden dining table with duty of care, respect, responsibility and consent. Opposite me sits clarity and over the black and green patterned table cloth we share a light meal I have prepared, vegetable soup and bread. The food is passed around, over the empty seat at the table. I think of Geoff raising his hand to his head to salute me as I sit looking at him through the car window on the driveway outside. Framed by the overbearing presence of his architecture I see his life tessellate in his eyes. On the floor I leave a few bread crumbs from the meal and the cat peers its nose out from the under the wicker chair, a concave reflection of the room lights up in the curvature of his eyes and for a moment I pass through and into his being. With a few more crumbs I tease him out and stroke the white hair which malts onto my hand. From the dark space I lift him up and carry him through the hall catching our combined definition in the mirror. If you were to cut our shadow the line would force my back to hunch as he rests his body over my shoulder. The cat purrs, I open the front door and drop him down onto the mat. His white and black body slivers up the undulating slab path, he carefully entertains a final glance and ceaselessly slips away.
Mirrored by the rectangular glass, set into the jointed corner of the drinks cabinet, the symmetrical tableau of the dining room and its contents is framed, superficially present in the reflection. Standing in the gallery I look into the cinematic presence of the rectangle on the wall holding the projection of the dining room and the mirrored cabinet, the light of the moving image offering me the image of my home space in real time. Fragmented across the gallery space, screens display the layered images of the gentlemen collaborators’ homes, disordered and abstract, photos and memories play out as I walk through the projected space to the light at the end of the room. Fighting with the familiarity of the live link and the strange physicality of the screens I meet with Caroline and we talk as we move anti-clockwise and encounter Akeelah’s moving image layered from video recorded in both Graham and Barry’s homes. Passing the mountainous perspective of the Cameroon in Barry’s paintings and Holly’s stencilling of Geoff ’s poems we arrive at Graham’s open cupboard and pause. … Villa Park. Twenty minutes into the first half. The Ipswich fans, segregated in their corner, are up on their feet, chanting their songs. In the palms of four geometric giants the Villa fans seated and quiet create the outer shell of the stadium. Thirty thousand people and I contained and focused over ninety minutes on a quadrant of grass, eleven people and a sphere. Villa win a free kick and bodies begin to stand, the smack of skin on skin, I’m taken over by the urge to stand and clap, not uncommon at a football match but this is different, this is collective, something is present with us. Morphing us like the preformed plastic seating dark arms melt around mine forcing my hands together, holding my body vertical, one organism moving in synthesis, our combined shadow. Play resumes and the free kick passes. The phenomenon continues. We are in ordinary play, the excitement has lifted but we are still standing, the entity has entwined us and is leaching onto our skins. Taken over, our surrogate shadowed being presses our hands together once again. Our new collective self thrives in the moment, moulding us with instinct, smacking flesh on flesh exponentially across our new form. We stand and clap. We stand and clap. Then, as quickly as that first person rose to their feet, and with no marker for this timing, we are released, one by one. A man sits down, and then another, the dynamic shifts, the atmosphere rolls over drawing out our shadow into the space above the
ground. I sit. An individual. Released by the shadowed arms of the collective conscious, I breathe again. … I breathe again. 2pm. A psycho-architectural landscape, the intention. Outlining the half assembled wardrobe in the corner of the room, Conscious, a shadowed figure stands at the end of the bed, limp with paralysis from his walk of sleep. My eyes strain to define his face, darkness upon darkness, the edge of his silhouette blending into the room without definition. Building up the layers of thick oil to form the contours of his exterior flesh I imagine attempting to paint his portrait with only a black hue. Lying in the dominance of the geometric giants the atmosphere rolls over in the space above my head drawing the surrogate shadow and the stadium’s architecture into conflict with the black oil portrait. Corners and facets tar with the thick residue as the mass exterior gloops into interior, turning in on its self, dripping viscous drops of visceral change onto the white linen fabric of the bed. Portraits and people. Videography. Narratives. The gentlemen collaborators. Drop by drop the sticky consistency brings its corporeal presence to the darkness and as the body starts to set, a new shape forms. Small and shiny, I pick the embodiment up and examine it, multifaceted but echoing a person, I run my hands over the figurine letting my fingers define the edges of the faces following the lineage to present its shape. Holding it up to my eyes I peer into the crisp black exterior, under the pellucid outer layer the shell holds the shifting essence of my shadowed experience at the stadium. I stand the small figurine on the bed side table and my thoughts return to the gentlemen collaborators, as I fall back to sleep I begin to reconstruct the installation, reforming landscape into psycho-architectural portrait. … Utopia. Graham’s cupboard. After tweaking the polo mints we move off on our anti-clockwise journey entering Yvonne’s stairwell as she conducts her Chore-ography. Leaving the bread maker mechanically turning the dough we stand at the crossover point from light to dark. Easing through the transition two newly formed embodiments exist in front of us, suspended in animation, simultaneously grounded and in flight. Familiarity invites us through into the cinematic presence of the rectangle on the wall holding the projection of the dining room and the cabinet. The light of the moving image offers me the sanctuary of my home space once again. Framing the dining room and its contents as a symmetrical tableau, the reflection appears superficially in the rectangular glass, set into the jointed corner as a mirror.
Articulate creaks resonate from above. It has been snowing for over a week and the intermittent clockwork hand of the sun is firmly plunged into the dark slip of his white fluff lined pocket. Across the blanket white indents form a slippery trail with a lineage that stretches from the street and stops at my door. Below the cat sleeps perched on the black brick holding the timber door solid, denying access to my hall. An echo of a window scene the camera is in the gentleman’s hands. Graham and Barry both plot a route through their homes. Geoff ’s words stencilled to the wall. Twelve minutes slowed down to two hours. Time stretched. Frame after frame offering closer inspection. Opening a route, a silent journey. Dual embodiments, suspended in space. Sculptural form synced with video sequence. Shifting perception from physical to virtual. Lapsed time shutters out onto the gallery walls offering enclosure, connection through the space. Holding a magnifying glass up to the negligible detail, the predetermined journeys through the gentleman’s homes. What is over looked, silent, resting, invisible, what is with us day to day? Is this enough? Over the baron dining room wall the clockwork hand of the sun fails to arrive again. A grey area, minimal light, the absence of the sun provides a dull wash of tone. Silence settles as another creak vibrates its track down through the bricks and mortar and reverberates away across the floor boards at my feet. Circling the house the cat hops up onto the window sill, stretches his front paws, arching his back and settles into his nook, peering in through the glass. Moving my gaze to the bleak sky flakes continue to fall in their unique frozen form. Each tiny flake plots its path. Time moving slowly as the fingered ice frame reflects its internal molecule order. Arranging growth, narratives crystallise in predetermined space, on route from sky to ground. … Emptiness. Frames click by. I sit at the wooden dining table with duty of care, respect, responsibility and consent. Opposite me sits clarity and over the black and green patterned table cloth I look at these brothers. Growing reluctance. The empty space at the table. Conflict will not eat with us, he is in every room that we are not. I recognise his passing silhouette quiver in the opaque glass. Time stretched over screens, renewed immersion as Phill’s subtle sound compositions embody nar-
ratives through the domestic space. Frames click by. Details emerge. Portraits hold true to the gentleman collaborators, the journeys and our conversations but as I stand there reviewing the track the captured pass, something is missing. … Arising from the carpet the elderly armature precariously cuts a skeletal burn into my bedroom space. Frame with in frame I stand inside the half complete wardrobe with one hand on the semi erect structure and a screwdriver in my hand. Reluctance grows out of my fingernails and attaches to the frame forcing the wood out of reach. Jabbing, prising the growth with the screwdriver I hold firm to the wooden skeleton and close my eyes. Vinegar Jutting into my bedroom the cube that covers the stair well, sitting atop the white box, dark confined space below me enclosed by the wooden panels I feel the scuffed skin of my hands rub against the shiny plastic of my cassette box. Red and black with a metal clasp it holds twenty-five cassette tapes, a few items and something that I cannot trace. Through the window I see the smoke rise from the towers of the vinegar factory, the malt smell apparent in the room and my nasal cavities once again. Rummaging through the box I quickly dismiss the cassette tapes. Rummaging, a small pink plastic brain, the size of a jelly bean, I consider popping it into my mouth and chewing it with my teeth. Instead I roll it around in my fingers. A torn photo of the front of the house, the small patch of grass, the bare tree centred in the grass, the path leading down to the gate and the prefabricated concrete wall adjoining the house. A home, a door, three windows, brick, wall, garage. Torn down the photograph into the roof of the house the white edges reveal the pink flesh of my hand. Placing it in my palm I let it rest with the pink plastic brain. Opening both my hands out in front of me I stare at my left hand, pink brain, torn faded photograph of my first home, my right hand, nothing just the empty flesh and the scuffed marks scattered across my palm. In the distance a rumbling sound grows from the factory. Brick by brick the claret cylindrical chimney begins to crack and crumble. Eyes open, I sit at the dining table, my palms out in front of me, empty. The joists in the apex structure of the roof space articulate their dissent one last time. As the snow shifts in one unifying slump a crash echoes out down the street bouncing from house to house. Rushing to the door I slip the catch, pull inwards and stand facing out into the cold. Atop the white crystalline lump in the front garden the cat stares back at me as I push my hand out into the air. Drifting down, the unconscious self of the six sided shape shifts sublimely by the atmosphere. A singular flake rests, centre of my right hand.
Prism flecks shatter, white light bounces, my eyes squint as embers spit and haze drifts at the boundaries of my vision. Deep in the distance the dark arches form. Desecrated coals drawn dormant from their dance of death lie miscast in the fired circle. Wakefulness grows, my vision restores focus, and I lie motionless with the remnants of the fire by my side. Gracefully snipping his teeth at the ends of the green blades my companion raises his head from across the field. Sleek and healthy his muscular frame renders its hazel contoured beauty by the crisp early morning broken shine. Slowly he rebalances as the Victorian viaduct arches, holding a forgotten line, push the hillsides apart to reveal his majestic composure. Vascular velvet skin lost to boned antler he stands rightful keeper of his architecture. Messaged, mourning deer I wake. I check my phone. Sanctuary is the four corners of my bed and Adam is my lost connection. After fourteen days I am conscious again. Back in the real world. Reassembled, my first person observer residing in my body once again. I have not seen the cat for days, not since the snow slipped from the roof, crashed and melted. Negotiating the stairs dressed in only my dressing gown I enter the dining room and seat myself at the table. … Oscillating. Flitting room to room shadows slip through doorways passed, immersion on multiple levels. Consider individually or as a whole, a meditative response, perception constructed as the sum of the parts. A preference for the virtual now? I stand, the viewer, in front of these two embodiments, reworking and reconstructing the elements, video, sound, projection, narrative, material. Loose fragmentary screens, the initial form forcing the viewer outside the virtual onto the physicality in the space. Figured reconstruction opens the bodies up, the viewer enters the virtual, narratives of the home, perceiving the blur, and frames click by as the embodiments hang. Portraits. Cinematic presence, my rectangular screen, a virtual space for a new perceptive construct, sitting quietly in the corner offering its familiarity. Movements through the house, moments of stillness and the vastness contained. The step. Did I find that innate imprint? Is there an innate imprint at all? What is stored in our un-
conscious? What is constructed for us? Making my mind up, knowing it’s the one. Dijksterhuis, his study, choose an apartment by one of three methods, one, instant decision, two, weigh up the pros and cons, three, think about something unrelated, a distracting problem, then make the decision. Objectively, the best decisions made on the apartment are by using the distraction method, the unconscious working while the conscious is elsewhere. Does my unconscious really have this power, laying a path for me? Sorting complexities, processing external information, ordering events, experiences. Assembly. Sensations, thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and the subsequent internal force to arrange, build, construct, creating moments of understanding and learning, lining a narrative, a reflection sculpted by the environment. Procession. Memory, a pool allowing for bathing or just dip a toe in to ripple the present transient truth. Three gentlemen. Conversation and contact. Reforming a self with the knowledge of each other, culture defining its shell. Sentience and the awareness of location, space, and point embodied, physical and metaphysical, consciousness looking to form for affirmation, narrative coherence, a truth to oscillate to and away from. … Arched chestnut faces align as I move the door of the wardrobe into place. Flat headed screwdriver in hand I begin to turn my wrist, threading the brass screw through the hinge, reuniting hole with bore. Accommodating the final screw I stand back, open the doors and look out, into its assembly. A construct of perception, sensory regions of the brain combine in the unconscious, releasing information, ultrafast brainwaves connecting, my conscious awareness emerging. Do I trust this silent thinking partner, shadowed, the unconscious? Do I have a choice? Is the self a construct, sensory coherence, the brain building an order, unifying the world. Writing this sentence I am conscious, I am aware but what is this terra incognita, this unchartered territory, why do I feel? Why do I feel I need the answer to why do I feel? How often am I tricked by my innate narrator, manipulated, coerced into constructing perceptions unreliable to the core? My identity, my narrative, constructed how, by me, or for me? Self. An illusion? Who am I without it? Sitting at the dining table in my dressing gown I pull a single white sheet of paper. Pushing pen, forming the black arch, I lay my conscious line to print.
I board a plane to Greece. Faced with the chaos in the break of everyday routine the holiday makers at the Diamond Deluxe Hotel begin to order their days amidst the newly constructed man made resort. Forcing only the white blocks from the Lego set up out of the ground the apartments rise from the terrain, probably a construction attributed to ages 10+ on the side of the box. Collective refreshment joined later by observant anxiety lingers in the faces of the guests on the first day of breakfast. As the week moves through its legitimate course the certainty that the same linen towels will appear at the same resting bricks in the same order each day becomes almost significant in its regimented form. … On return a mist has started to form in one of the upstairs bedrooms. It lies at our feet during the evening, thick and heavy, giving clearance to the room, we stand like awkward obtrusions above an alien skyline. Across the street a lamp flicks on warming up a silhouette looking back at us and waving. It’s Douglas Smith from number 23. I have something for you he tells me when I explain the mist to him the next day. In the morning light a deeper more impenetrable mist rises to suffocate the room. Standing with my back against the chimney breast unable to see anything I may as well as be in the mind of Douglas Smith as standing in this bedroom. The outline of a dragon forms in the mist. I plug the fan in and turn the dial to its maximum spin. Unexplainable, the utility service’s one word review on the phone, we’ll send someone out For the love of people, the call out man’s initial expression on entering the room
Reflections on involving people with dementia in a residency Bartlett et al, 2013 Excerpt from a paper written by Ruth Bartlett, Caroline Hick, Agnes Houston, Larry Gardiner, & Daphne Wallace, some of the members of the No Limits | Reimagining Life with Dementia project. No Limits | Reimagining Life with Dementia was a two year ESRC follow on funding project based on research by Dr Ruth Bartlett, University of Southampton and developed into an exhibition and educational resource with Caroline Hick, University of Bradford and in partnership with men and women with dementia, including members of the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) – a campaign group set up and run by people with dementia. It features work by arts facilitator and installation artist Shaeron Caton-Rose and filmmaker Anne Milne. The work explores the individual and collective strength of people living with dementia and brings to life ideas around community, empowerment, and friendship.
In recent years, considerable attention has been paid to involving people with dementia as collaborators in research, and there is a growing body of literature to support good practice in this area (e.g. Sabat, 2003; Care Service Improvement Partnership, 2007). As a result, it is no longer acceptable to exclude people with dementia from research studies (Cotrell and Schulz, 1993); on the contrary more and more opportunities are arising for people affected by this condition to participate in research and knowledge production. For example, research published in this journal describes the involvement of people with dementia as co-researchers (Tanner, 2012) and organisations like the Dementias & Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN) and Alzheimer’s Society include people with dementia on their reference panels (Iliffe, McGrath and Mitchell, 2011). Another way in which people with dementia are involved as collaborators in research and knowledge production is by working with policymakers on reports of strategic significance (e.g. Alzheimer’s Europe, 2012). In sum, the importance of involving people with dementia as collaborators in research and knowledge production is well established and the protocols for working in this way are evolving (see, for example, Cantley, Woodhouse and Smith, 2005). While the involvement of people with dementia in research is a welcome trend, the issue of place – where collaboration actually occurs – has been neglected. Scholars have understandably been ‘grappling with why and how to include people with dementia’ in research (Wilkinson, 2002: 15), as opposed to where it actually takes place. One justifiable reason for the oversight is because some research involvement activities are remote and take place in the person’s own home (as is the case with the AS Research Network); however, many other activities occur in corporate spaces such as conference venues, meeting rooms and offices. Think for example, of the involvement of people with dementia at Alzheimer’s Europe. Thus it is important for scholars and research organisations to consider place and the spaces to which people are invited to become involved. Place can be defined as the ‘nexus of things within a given boundary’ – it has physicality and can be your favourite room, building, village or mountain (O’Toole and Were, 2008: 618). Place is a key characteristic of space; it is the material dimension that simultaneously frames and constituents social relations (Marston and Renedo, 2012). Thus, we can feel ‘at home’ in some places but ‘out of place’ in others. For instance, McColgan (2005: 431) found in her ethnographic study of care home life that residents did not generally appear to identify with the care home environment, and used different places within it (such as lounge chairs) to resist and create a private space for themselves. Furthermore, disability scholars have argued
that people with a disability can be ‘indoctrinated into knowing their place’ by ‘distinct spatialities’ such as stairs and specialist institutions (Kitchin, 1998, p343). Such work illustrates how place is a pervading factor of human life, which can be used to exclude and mediate certain messages to people with a disability (Kitchin, 1998). Neglecting the issue of place in the context of people with dementia is significant for several reasons. First of all, we know from work by McColgan (2005) and others that certain places (such as nursing homes and hospital wards) can adversely affect the well-being of a person with dementia. This is partly because functional spatial skills are impaired by the dementia, but also because the environment lacks appropriate cues and signage (Blackman et al, 2003). Hence, the new programme of work in the UK on enhancing the healing environment (Kings Fund, 2012). Second of all, and more relevant to this article, place can adversely affect social relations and a person’s ability to participate in society effectively. For example, critical health geographers argue that place is closely linked to ‘one’s identity, sense of security and self-worth’ (Curtis, 2010: 155) and so where we are located affects the way we feel about ourselves, particularly in terms of feeling an active citizen (Parr, 2008). Thus, public involvement scholars argue for ‘better spaces’ for people to influence healthcare and engage in what can be defined as ‘acts of citizenship’ (Marston and Renedo, 2012).
Privileging place offers a potential solution to some of the barriers identified in involving people with dementia in research. We know from our own and other peoples’ experiences that there are issues. For example, a lack of time for people to listen and make relationships is identified as a barrier to the effective involvement of people with dementia in research-related work (Care Services Improvement Partnership, 2007: 21). Similarly, the pace of dialogue can be disabling or at least off-putting for people with dementia engaged in research. Individuals need time to express their ideas but may have difficulty in following discussion if the dialogue is not properly facilitated or if spatialities favour the professional (e.g. a large meeting room where an academic is likely to feel ‘at home’). By privileging place, and in particular, considering the spatial arenas to which people are invited to participate in research, these issues become identifiable and surmountable. Finally, and related to the above, neglecting place means overlooking a key ethical component of including people with dementia in research. That is, thinking about the relationships researchers and participants have with each other and the world around them. An ethical approach to participatory research covers ‘questions relating to what kinds of lives we should lead, what counts as a good society, what actions are right and wrong, what qualities of character we should develop and what responsibilities humans have for each other and the ecosystem’ (Banks, 2013: p. 5). Although not explicitly stated, place is integral to this definition, as the spaces and places we occupy – the location we are in – inevitably shapes the life we lead (Parr,
2008). Thus, privileging place is, we would argue, a key ethical principle to consider when involving people with dementia as collaborators in research. In sum, this paper aims to contribute to the evidence base concerned with the involvement of people with dementia as partners in research, by privileging place and describing a participatory approach to involvement, namely a residency. Discussion is informed by critical debates concerned with place, and experiential knowledge we gained from two residencies in the English Lake District. Our contention is that by privileging place and running a residency a more equitable, productive, and healthier way of involving people with dementia in research and knowledge production can be realised.
What is a residency? A residency whereby researchers and participants share food and home together for a short period of time, to ‘extend the space’ for research and provide a supported space for participants to share their experiences with researchers, is consummate with a participatory approach (Reason, 1994). A residency allows time for people to work through issues, relax and build trusting relations. Plus, it provides an opportunity for people to get know each other on equal terms and become involved in knowledge production about their lives. Residencies are a relatively common but undocumented practice in social research, particularly research involving marginalised communities. The first author knows anecdotally of this method being used by social researchers but the process has not been published. For example, a member of an online experimental research network ran a residency with a group of people with learning disabilities to collect data in a participatory way, and a residency was part of a young women’s allotment research project. Clearly researchers see the advantages of extending the space for research and spending quality time with participants, but to date it has not been the focus of research outputs. A residency takes place in a different kind of space from standard meetings. The emphasis is on creating productive spaces rather than simply having somewhere to meet and work. For us, the difference can be considered in terms of corporate ‘work’ spaces and domestic ‘home’ spaces, as outlined in Figure 1. The differences are important to identify as they show how spatial factors constitute and shape the research involvement process. The dimensions of domestic ‘home’ spaces are more likely to foster trusting and equitable working relationships between people with dementia and researchers. This is because they encompass what we already know about ‘what works’ for the mental health and well-being of people with dementia. For example, we know from work conducted in institutional settings that environmental improvements such as reducing noise levels and personalising spaces can promote a sense of calm, security and well-being for people affected by dementia (The Kings Fund, 2013). Additionally, evidence suggests that access to the outdoors and nature is important for people living with dementia: such interactions have an important role in the quality of life for this group of people - as they do for us all (Gilliard and Marshall, 2012). Simply being outdoors or nearer to nature; or actively taking part in green exercise outdoors can all lead to various physical, emotional and social benefits, many of which are essential for effective participation in research, such as improved verbal expression, memory and attention; improved sense of well-being, independence, selfesteem and control; and improved social interaction and a sense of belonging (Mapes, 2012). All of these benefits are, we contend and will demonstrate, more realisable in a residency, rather than a corporate ‘work’ space.
Introducing the No Limits | Reimagining Life with Dementia project In this paper we draw on our experiences of running two residences as part of the No Limits | Reimagining Life with Dementia project. The project was conducted in the UK between 2011 and 2012 and was aimed at translating research knowledge about the individual and collective strength of British men and women with dementia who campaign for social change via an exhibition and educational resource. […] From the outset the first and second authors were keen to work as collaboratively as possible with research participants and artists, and were mindful of the sensitivities around representing experiences which were not their own. Thus, residencies were built into the project to allow time for trusting relationships to be formed and creative energies and collaborations to flow in ordinary and outdoor spaces, rather than on University premises. All sixteen participants involved in the primary study were invited to attend the first two-night/three day residency to meet the artists and prepare for the exhibition, and in particular, to create something ‘handmade’ for the touring exhibition. Eight expressed an interest in working with us on the follow-on project. One was unavailable on the date of the residency, so seven people from the primary research study became involved in the follow-on project – four men and three women.
consent and input the film idea was based around this journey. Anne then continued to develop and make the film with Agnes and Nancy, over a four day period. The second residency happened in a different but equally inspiring setting and was planned with the same emphasis on work, social and rest time. Occurring towards the end of the project, participants were encouraged to reflect on the exhibition project and subsequent conferences we had presented at. We used a visualisation game - if this project was a form of transportation, what would it be - and asked people to draw an imaginary form of transport for the project. After a lot of imagination and laughter, we decided that the form of transport that best described the project was a tour bus. The following session used prompts and visual annotation to chart the potential future journey for the project and helped us work out the driver of the bus, the tour guides, the direction and places we should stop off at. This visualisation helped us to focus on the resource and reflect upon the whole project.
share their life story, or their experiences, or their struggles without sort of falling in love with them” Alliances and connections were formed which have endured. The fourth author reflects on the value of a residency for allowing friendships to develop in a natural homely setting and not in sterile room and isolated in your own home. The holistic approach of this residency helped to build a strong and supportive team and created a focused environment without exhaustion. The strength of the work that developed was rooted in the fact that it grew out of an environment where everyone was able to participate equally and on their own terms. Time to recharge and have fun Many people with dementia can easily become fatigued which is different to their experience ‘before dementia’. Incorporating breaks into the work time was therefore an important part of achieving a worthwhile result. The time structure of the residency was carefully arranged to include time for rest, recuperation and for sharing enjoyable activities. The residency allowed time for focusing in but also space for time out and to return to activity. For example, during the first residency, we sat around the fireplace; watched videos together; had a quiz night and sang songs together. Also, the benefit of eating (and sometimes cooking) together and just chatting helped our energies, as we not only gave nutrition to our physical bodies but our creative side as well. Having fun together is part of the opportunity for bonding and development of friendships and sense of activist identity. Perhaps more importantly ‘funtime’ over meal-times or relaxation activities, provided time to gather strength. […]
What the residencies involved There were two residencies built into the follow-on project – one at the beginning to plan for the exhibition, and one towards the end to work on an Educational Resource. Each residency involved a mix of art-based activities, informal conversations, green exercise, and socialising. Both residencies took place in the English Lake District, in large rented holiday homes, where there was enough space to be together and alone if we wanted to be. The houses were within walking distance of local amenities, walks and nature. Each participant was accompanied on the residency by their spouse, another relative, or paid care worker; and all travel expenses were paid for. Using art to mediate ideas and agency In both residencies art was used to mediate ideas and agency. Rather than simply talking about the exhibition and educational resource, we used art to facilitate communication, generate ideas, and mobilise action. The first residency was attended by and provided an opportunity for the artist-in-residence (Shaeron Caton-Rose) and filmmaker (Anne Milne) to meet and get to know participants. Both artists were introduced to the primary research data and developed initial ideas based on this. For the first residency, the artist-in-residence devised three themes for the creative sessions; Protest, Proclaim, and Party. Shaeron began each of the three creative workshops with a meditation - a visual and spoken presentation - to anchor the session. As one participant, who especially liked the guided meditation with pictures said, these helped one ‘to communicate thoughts and feelings easily’. Participants were then encouraged to respond and discuss ideas through three different art activities. Work was displayed in the activity room to create continuity. The creative sessions were spaced out to allow time for reflection, relaxation and further discussion. After the residency, Shaeron, in communication with everyone, devised a series of five bespoke banners using ideas, words and images created during the sessions. The film-maker used the residency to get to know participants in order to develop a working idea for a documentary film. Through her general involvement in all the activity during the residency, Anne was able to devise an idea for film around the friendship of Agnes and Nancy, two of the participants. Agnes wanted to go visit Nancy. With their
Connecting with nature and our local surroundings As well as working indoors we spent time outside, taking physical exercise, connecting with nature and our local surroundings. Sometimes this was connected to the project theme. For example, one trip involved participants tying a ‘ribbon of protest’ they had created in one of the arts sessions to different places. Most of the time, however, we simply enjoyed each other’s company and our local surroundings. We walked down by the lake. We drove up the mountain to the Standing Stones. We befriended the sheep up on the hill. We took a boat trip around Derwent Water. We visited a local museum. On one occasion the third author’s daughter invited people outside in the morning dew and blue skies to do Yoga poses. Spending time outside was an integral part of both residencies and perhaps one of the most memorable aspects of them.
Perceived benefits of a residency Building trust and equitable relations Many people with dementia find their previous skills at participating in discussion are diminished and this reduces their confidence in participating fully. Living together as a group, even for a relatively short period, promotes trust in one another and reduces the feelings of a need to fight for space to contribute. As one participant told us, “I feel more relaxed and secure” having attended the residency. Each activist/advocate brought their own skills, experience and thinking about our situation. The combining of this in a tranquil setting gave us the space to develop common themes as co-workers in the same endeavour. Moreover, each participants worth was entirely and equally honoured; as author three says “I think this approach is more respectful of me as a person.” Forging closer bonds People with dementia may find it more difficult to bond with people they do not know and thus inhibit sharing. In the residency seeing new relationships develop, helped build a sense of a common bond in the face of adverse life challenges. An easy, safe affection very quickly grew up during the residency. This was not a superficial friendliness but a genuine and very respectful intimacy. As the fourth author reflects, ‘it is difficult for me to listen to someone
Conclusion In this article, we argue for place to be privileged in the quest to involve more people with dementia in research and knowledge production. Our contention is that by privileging place and thinking more carefully about the quality of spaces to which people are invited to get involved, the general ethical principles associated with participatory research (such as building trust and developing equitable relations) are more likely to be realised. We have demonstrated the importance of privileging place by documenting and reflecting on our recent experiences of running residencies for a follow-on project. Discussion has shown that by privileging place and running a residency in a domestic space, a more equitable, productive, and healthy way of involving people with dementia in research as collaborators can be realised. With comfortable working time interspersed with relaxation, access to nature, and bonding, a result with much greater participation is achieved. The paper has focused on involving people with dementia in research; however, we suggest the residency is a potentially useful way of involving people with dementia, and other disabilities or mental health problems, in related activities such as service evaluations and public consultations.
Using art to map dialogue around conflict transformation
• We are inspired by knot metaphors and the active potential of rope, elastic throwing holding pulling tension, restricting, dividing, webbing, power and weight - potential for punts too. Interestingly, these all carry forward into your ropewalk thinking. I have just been looking closer at images of rope and rope making. Bob The significance of the embodied response - A greater sense of the physicality of these experiences. Lisa
Lead artist Sorrel Muggridge was commissioned to draw on ideas gathered and developed during a period of research, to create an interactive installation which mapped and connected A research project and installation piece in key themes and approaches and invited collaboration with: visitors to contribute to the dialogue. Through the gallery installation piece we wanted to ask: Sorrel Muggridge – Lead artist, Lisa Cumwhat sort of connections do we need in a context of converging crises? What sort of connecming – Centre for Participatory Studies, tions do we need for what sort of peace? University of Bradford, Dave Robison – School of Media, University of Bradford, Caroline Hick (Bob) – Gallery II.
What follows are samples of our correspondence during the research period, with images and visitor comments from the installation…
Sorrel: My approach to making art is about exploring how to make visible the intricate and intrinsic nature of our relationship to each other and our surroundings. I explore how we understand and talk about this relationship, to make an artwork which stimulates viewers to think about what this means to them. My past works have explored: our relationship with water, our life journey and notions of home, distance and long distance relationships, navigating landscape and language. www.sorrelmuggridge.wordpress.com or www.sorrelandlaura.blogspot.com So to our project - Change Spaces - I feel very excited to be working with you all, if a little scared as such a layman in your field. I hope my perspective as someone outside of your field will enable me to look for questions and patterns that will inspire our audience to feel connected with the ideas we want to convey. I am so excited to be working on a piece with peace/ conflict as its focus, it feels very timely, and this is certainly a subject everyone will have a personal connection to in some way. The starting point that has come out of our initial conversations is Change Spaces - a space/ environment that enables change in a situation of conflict - this seems like a very exciting idea to explore and something very real but difficult to pin point, something so dynamic, ephemeral and context specific. The other area which seems very pertinent, is the idea of converging crisis - I feel this will be something everyone can identify with - allowing us to look at the local and the global together - I also feel this will complement the recognition of the diversity of your own experiences and passions. I hope this makes some sense and please see this as a starting point only. I have written these questions to trigger our discussion and dialogue. I will use your answers/ responses to help devise the work we shall do together. Please be as specific and personal as you can, and answer them as you wish, there is no right way. Have you experienced a point of change in a conflict situation? How did it happen? What did it feel like? What changed? Tell me about a situation which you feel particularly passionate about at the moment. How close to you does conflict feel? How do you feel it? What connects you to it? From the workshop sessions: Highlight those that are the key for you. Bob to Sorrel - Ok, so this is what I highlighted before you sent your most recent email. The relational question was hard to get my head round in terms of how I felt about this and how that might be visualised or constructed. The spatial/time point also. So I began by italicising the elements that I found directly related to my experience of the workshops… • The significance of the embodied response - a greater sense of the physicality of these experiences. • An emotional response counts - a positive change to be able to include the emotional aspects to these experience and put a value on them as part of it. • The space and time between points of change or conflict is peace and this space needs to be perceived as an equally active and dynamic time - no flat lines or neutrals! • Peace, conflict and change is a situation in motion and the motion is ongoing but not necessarily forwards
What do we want this exhibition opportunity to do? I think that I want the exhibition to be a space that invites you to reflect on your own experiences with the option to share them directly (testimonials answering direct questions as you have). *Because each person I have asked has responded positively to the experience of reflecting and has suggested that it has been a healthy challenge for them in some way. Also as a reader of your words, I found it really stimulating and it encouraged me to look at my own ideas and beliefs and reflect on my relationship with the world around me. * Sorrel I agree with you. The personal testimonials are really strong and I would really want to keep this element in and also continue to encourage more people to reflect. We may not be professionals in conflict transformation dialogue but we each have an active part to play in how we can make change happen in our lives. Bob Ideally I’d like people at the University (and visitors) to reflect (think and feel) about their personal experience of and relationship to conflict. And consider personal responsibility within conflict. Lisa Keen to ask and reflect on: Where do you position yourself? - how you make those choices and awareness that whatever you choose it has is a relationship with the conflict/change even if you are choosing impartiality - awareness that this also has an affect/impact in the conflict. Lisa Engage staff and students in an exploration of elements of conflict both international and local/personal (and their representations). Speak to and about Bradford and its representations. Hone some insights from the material we’ve produced and relate these in some way. Dave What do we want the audience to be asking themselves? What is my relationship to conflict? How/where do I see/feel conflict? How do representations (media) intersect with personal experiences of conflict? How do I contribute to peace? How do I better my environment, community and locale? Dave How does conflict feel? Can impartiality be as much a position as taking sides when conflict has escalated and people are being hurt? How can we transform ourselves and our relationships without dominating others? Lisa I still feel your original questions are pertinent. Bob
What do we want people to experience? ‘To participate in a visual action of shared endeavour to build something’. Lisa I also would like the audience to participate in a visual action of shared endeavour, to build something. I believe this is important as a way of enabling them to engage with the physicality of the experiences of conflict and peace building and the dynamics of change. I also feel it should support reflection on what your own position is in a conflict situation whilst creating an opportunity to take part in a positive act of change. so they could take part in this action without adding words which can sometimes be a too direct form of engagement especially with topics like this which are personally and emotionally charged. Sorrel Often in the peace business conflict is a synonym for violence (armed conflict). In the peace theory etc conflict is a good thing which brings about change, the difficulty is in everyone responding to conflicts in a positive nonviolent way. CHANGE; how we affect change, how our views or positions change through knowledge, interaction and experience (permaculture edges/boundaries being active), change as a constant. PEACE; peace building, peace challenge, peace being active rather than passive. Bob
I would like all the rope created to be added to the installation – the accumulation could happen in many ways and I am not sure which makes the most sense at the moment so I will send you ideas for this once I have your responses to my new questions and my initial intention of making rope or in a follow up email. look forward to hearing from you, best wishes… Sorrel Yes, what I’m liking also about this is going back to basics. Rope in terms of what it’s function is - holding, catching, lifeline, fastening, releasing is one thing but taking it back to how something strong is made and what makes this work or not work, somehow echoes the directness of the testimonials and brings us back to something real in terms of the gallery as a creative, experimental and participatory space; BUILDING/MAKING, peace building, making space for reflection. Bob Hi Sorrel, I will respond in next couple of days I got a bit caught up last week in issues relating to a by-election in Bradford West!! I tried to give both positive and negative stories re. conflict. Original meaning is ‘strike together’ I believe. If you want interesting things to read start here... www.restorativejustice.org/10fulltext/lederach www.crsprogramquality.org/storage/pubs/peacebuilding/reflective_peacebldg.pdf stayingwithconflict.com/about www.beyondintractability.org/ www.corrymeela.org/ stethelburgas.org/ Warmest wishes, Lisa Hi all, Following threads from your links Lisa I found this interview, that is really interesting so I thought I would share it www.publicradio.org/tools/media_player/popup.php?name=speakingoffaith/programs/2010/07/07/20100708_art_of_peace_128 Sorrel
Musings and links Sorrel: I have had an email conversation with a friend of friend who is an artist working with conflict issues. This exchange has been really interesting and insightful. It has highlighted for me the naivety of my language in this subject - so I must apologise for my summary perhaps being full of language gaffs. Here is a little excerpt: *Thanks very much for your questions Sorrel, it was a very interesting exercise to answer them, it was a pleasure to engage. Before the direct questions and answers, I want to ask a little about what conflict is. The term conflict is used or misused in a variety of circumstances. Often in the peace business conflict is a synonym for violence (armed conflict). In the peace theory etc conflict is a good thing which brings about change, the difficulty is in everyone responding to conflicts in a positive nonviolent way. So the things I have worked with, homelessness, sexual exploitation, poverty, military violence, are not conflict, but are negative responses to conflicts, I guess.* I still love knots but for me they didn’t quite capture the very physical and dynamic nature of peace and conflict/change. So I have moved my thinking forward. I would like to make rope as the central part of the installation. The gallery would contain a rope walk and visitors would be invited to operate it to make the rope. Each length made would then be added to the installation. A rope walk, is the long space traditionally used for building rope. The gallery would be set up as a rope walk, each visitor invited to construct a rope, the process involves bringing three or four separate strands together, holding, creating tension, twisting, maintaining tension even action, and more twisting. The process would require two of three people working together. The method is dynamic and productive but if you go too far with any part of the process the rope will snag or kink, and not form well. It feels to me this works really well to bring together the different aspects of the experience of going through and being involved in a conflict situation that we discussed. But also it somehow describes the complexity of peace building, and how equally dynamic a space peace is – really I see it as representing change - peace being the construction of an even rope: where opposing/different forces work out a way to move through the change together. (Negative or violent) conflict being when the process is too forced or uneven, causing snags or kinks in the construction of the rope- leaving it weak or unusable. Perhaps having a large choice of strands that can be used to make the rope, to reflect the diversity of the types of change spaces this might be representing?
Sorrel: I am pursuing the idea of making rope as the core of the exhibition, the act is metaphor for peace building/conflict transformation. I think the option to participate in the act of making rope could inspire discussion (especially as the process takes several people working together to complete) and further participation perhaps sharing their own experiences of change. I also want to bring all the rope made together to build something physically reflecting the bringing together of different people and ideas but to make this truly meaningful I want to work out what we want them to be considering/thinking about and questioning while participating. I really want to get your perspective on what you want this exhibition to do and how and who this project could reach. I have some ideas that I will share shortly but it would be good to get your perspective. I like the point you picked out from the interview, “To build a quality of relationships amongst people who don’t think alike.” I had picked this point out too, about the idea of bringing together a group of unlikely people, so in a way from your concerns about the local environment and how to communicate about this, I am seeing this as your answer to my question: What do we want to use this exhibition opportunity to do? If you want to expand on this and if you have time answer the other questions that would be great. I think we should explore how we can connect with the energy for change that Bradford has shown so directly in the recent election. I like your concise conflict summary “Excuse me, why have you dropped that piece of litter?” “Fuck off dick head.” it’s simple, familiar but also really challenging - there is something interesting about finding that spark point as well as the sense of the longer impact and challenge for change to happen. Litter symbolises the degree to which inhabitants respect their street. Aren’t landmines the most malicious form of litter? I am interested like Bob in including text in the exhibition but we need to be clear of what we want it to do, to help us decide on the best way to do this. e.g. we could have large provoking text like your dialogue above printed big on the walls or we could focus on small prints of the longer testimonials - read close up - drawing the audience physically close to the words or a bit of both? Or something totally different ... questions rather than statements? Emotions rather than stories? Banners, light info boards, twitters etc. I was also really draw to the questions What are we trying to change? What change is needed? Perhaps this is part of what we are asking our audience? Thank you for your thoughts look forward to your reply and thank you for making it to the bottom of my musings.
REVOLUTION RUN| Graham Martin The City as a site for artistled research An event in and for Bradford 8/04/2011 Two runners run round Bradford city centre in the morning each carrying a red flag. One flag has the words THE REVOLUTION IS HEALING on it, the other flag has THE REVOLUTION IS FEELING on it. The runners wear the same No 1 running number signifying we are all the same. The event devised by artist Graham Martin, was a precursor to The Revolution is Healing at Gallery II in June 2011. Martin was commissioned by Gallery II to create new work responding to Bradford, a city the artist lived in 1976 â€“ 84 and has returned to frequently. The show and REVOLUTION RUN are inspired by the ideas of German artist, Joseph Beuys. The phrases and artefacts created by Martin relate to common wounds, social sculpture and posit a vision of art and society based on rediscovering and promoting common humanity. As Martin suggestsâ€Ś The words the runners carry through the streets offer a healing vision and a different view of change and development compared with economic ones we are bombarded with. They are not the usual consumerist, egoist, or marketing messages, but a message of healing for Bradford and for the world. The city has over many years suffered from problems and often economic investment and re-branding have been seen as the way forward but just for a morning through the actions of the two runners and the message they carry, we want to promote a deeper thought and solution. To address the question of how do people come together.......only through an acknowledging of common bonds of feeling and humanity .......and that is why THE REVOLUTION IS HEALING / THE REVOLUTION IS FEELING www.agencyartlifesociety.com
1 REVOLUTION RUN