Sunday, 1 October 2017

Checklist of care

Last year, as an outcome of my October residency at ARC in Switzerland (nearly a year ago! WOW!). I wrote myself a checklist of care - building on my own long-term artistic interest in care and prompted, no doubt, in a sideways way by the work of other artists such as Julie Vulcan speaking here and Clod Ensemble's Circle of Care developed for Health Professionals (NB - Also check out ALL of the excellent sounding talks/discussions/events on the area of care that took place at Buzzcut's Sideburns last year recounted to me by my Producer Sally Rose, and the work by Ria Hartley and Alice Tatton-Brown which I was alerted to recently by Jo Hellier.

I wanted to think about my practice in a more holistic/well-rounded way... I'm posting it here in case it's useful for others​​. I wouldn't say it's finished, or even right for everyone (it's something I wrote for me, with me and my own flaws in mind) but it's definitely making me stop and pause before I take on / make anything new nowadays - even if still so often I don't end up getting it right... There's nothing surprising in it - some might even read it and say 'but this is just common sense!' - and yet...  I so easily find myself in a less than ideal situation when making / facilitating, that for me there's something in it... Obviously, sometimes this is for reasons beyond mine and others control, but not always...  Sometimes I just haven't thought it through from the perspective of care.

I'm going to get it framed and hung up on my studio wall...
I'm going to keep adding to and amending it.

If anyone has any reflections or comments on it after having a read I'd be really interested to hear them...


Will engaging in this activity / event / performance / ‘act’ be nourishing and full of care towards:


Will I be looked after?

Will I get paid? 

If travelling where will I sleep? What will I eat? When will I eat?

Will I be fed or is it self-catering? Will I get per diems?

Will I feel safe?

Who will I be hanging out with? 

Can I bring someone with me?

If something goes wrong who do I contact and what is my exit strategy? 

Do I have any special health needs at the moment and will they be catered for?

Have I informed anyone connected to the activity about these needs?

Will there be any language barriers? How can these be overcome?

Am I insured - health, belongings, public liability

Have I got a contract?

What press / PR will I be expected to do and does this feel ok?

How does this activity / event / performance / ‘act’ align with my politics & beliefs?

Where is the funding coming from?

What’s the overall environmental cost?

What do I know about the location / area in terms of human rights / politics?

What do I know about the organisation?

After the event:

Has this activity had an impact on my politics & beliefs?

Do I feel ok about the parts of myself I've revealed during the course of the activity? And if not, what do I need to do to make this ok again?

Have I learnt anything new about the common themes of my practice (e.g. Visibility/Invisibility)


'Hybridity, Whiteness, Trade and Empire, Filthy lucre, The precarity of a world that’s tipped in favour of a few, Shaking hands / holding, Screens, Care, Plants and animals, Foliage, Certain landscapes, Thistledown, Glass, Kitschy Hearts, Time, Buried histories, Classification and Anatomies, Families, Movement, The choreography of objects, Cheap Theatrics / Magic, Intuitions, gifts and chemistry, Hosting audiences. You, And words carefully arranged in patterns and shapes. Listing. Looping. Over and over. Playfully.'

How does this align with my overall life?

Where am I 'at' at the moment?

Will this activity be helpful in terms of my overall life aims (whatever these happen to be at any given moment and if such 'aims' are actually achievable in the first place)?

Or will this be a distraction?


Who will my audience be?

Is what I’m doing accessible (in terms of language, non-arts audiences, for those who are visually impaired, are wheelchair users / have limited mobility, are D/deaf or hard of hearing)?  

If not, why not? And how can I overcome this.

How can I be a good guest (reciprocity)?

What will I be leaving behind afterwards, both literally and in terms of legacy?

Are those I’m working with being looked after too (pay, accommodation, per diems, well being).

Do they have any special needs?

Could I employ local people instead of bringing others with me?

Who should I try to make contact with whilst I am in the area and what’s the mutual benefit?

Flora & Fauna:

Are the materials I’m using good for the environment? 

What about after I’ve left? What will I be leaving behind?

What about the travel? Is the environmental cost worth it?

Society in General:

What is the long-term message of what I’m conveying?

Have I checked all of my language and actions to ensure I’m being inclusive?

Am I reaching outside of my everyday circle of peers/friends? If not, why not?

If conflict/debate is impossible to avoid, what is the best way to deal with this?

Am I self-censoring my own practice to fit in? And if so, why? Is this the right thing to do in the particular context I'm working in? If not, what should I do?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

An itinerant independent / Sulphur

A year later and Sulphur has been made! Well, shown twice at least. Here's a little blog I did about it for The Red Line:

Since writing that blog, I have decided the piece does need a bit more work, not much, but a bit... So, I'm hoping I can make that happen - something that largely depends on the funds I can raise to pay people...

And just like that I'm reminded again of the attraction of being a LONG TERM Associate of a space or well-established organisation or part of a company linked to something BIGGER, more machine-like.

Somewhere that actually has your back and nurtures your practice and helps you along and gives you some validation simply by being associated with their name. Or gives you an energy through it's structure, having people standing right beside you whatever the weather...

And it's around about the time that I have that thought that I invariably wish I'd been playing the game more. Engaging more with the hustle, doing my own collecting up of people and a tiny bit of empire building myself (just a bit)... Because although the words 'empire' and 'company' make me really shiver (take the British Empire and the East India Company just for starters), there's no denying it, it's exhausting approaching everyone from project to project and starting from zero each time. And I have v strong links with a few key organisations... And a brilliant part-time Producer. Well anyway, cough cough... Something else to aim for kidz! Put it on the list (oh if only I had time to get to the list).

Another sort of main refrain I've noticed going round in my head over the past few years is LET ME IN:

To your building, to your festival, to your scheme, to your funding, to your big big space, to your warmth, to your meetings, to your canteen, to your drinks, to your 5 year plans, to your trust, to your trust, to your trust (fund), to your TRUST...

Because it doesn't seem to get any easier.

I've been doing this for a very long time now. Yet, somehow I know it's still going to be like you've never seen my work, never supported it before, are never willing to acknowledge the inherent possibility that what we're imagining together on this flimsy bit of paper might not work. NOT because neither of us are any good at what we do (you at picking a winner, me at trying to win), but because that's the risk of making something new.  It just might bellyflop...

All this doubting, convincing and pitching wastes a LOT of hours.
Think of what we could all be doing with that time...
Art-making for one.

(also, the idea of doing a bellyflop in public just made me smile...).

ANYWAY, yes, I wonder what the answer is... I suppose it's just my usual post-project existential crisis: Do I keep noodling along as an itinerant independent or do I aim for something larger so as to be finally invited 'in' to some of those weightier spaces / funds / conversations...

Oh and lest we forget, there's that other option too:

S h o u l d  I  d o  i t  n o w  t h e n ?  S h o u l d  I  j u s t  g i v e - u p.

Flip Flop. Flip Flop.

Flail. Flail. Flip Flop.

Ok. Enough of that, better get on with those two small ideas I'm supposed to manifest by the end of this month i.e. two weeks away (true story).


Put it on the list.

Image from Sulphur Photo credit: Lens and Pixel