Susan Hogan is running a series of workshops using art therapy techniques. These workshops run from January 18th – March 15th 2010. Participants will be encouraged to explore their feelings about, and produce images of ageing in a confidential and supportive setting. Women will be able to use whichever creative medium they wish, whether that is painting, drawing, sculpting, or collage, to create images which represent their feelings about changing and ageing. The information the women provide and the images they create will help to deepen understandings of how older women want to be seen, in all their diversity. We will also involve policy makers and service providers in discussions about the project when it is completed and we hope that this will help to challenge many of the stereotypes that exist about older women.
Susan has considerable experience running art elicitation groups. She has an ongoing research interest in the transition to motherhood.
Commenting on the project, Susan said: "I have been developing skills and expertise in creative research methods and this project is very innovative methodologically in terms of its use of art elicitation techniques, phototherapy as a research tool, and community engagement in the arts."
Team member Rosy Martin is running a series of workshops from May 1st – 23rd which use photo-therapy techniques. 'Photo-therapy’ is about using photographs to bring self-awareness and healing. A therapist may help a participant to talk about and reflect upon her values and beliefs, using photographs as a springboard for exploration. In this project, photographs taken by or of the participant prior to the workshops may offer insights into feelings and relationships which have affected their view of their ageing process. Looking through family albums, for instance, can help participants to tell stories about their life and their family history and dynamics, and can offer clues as to why certain early experiences continue to affect them and their feelings about ageing.
Re-enactment photo-therapy was developed by Rosy Martin (the workshop facilitator) and Jo Spence in the 1980s and will be a central approach in these workshops. Working in pairs and in the group, women will explore issues and memories which affect their feelings about changing and ageing. They will be asked to find clothes and props to help them re-enact these issues and memories in front of the camera. Women can re-enact scenes that might have occurred in the past, or scenes which might occur in the future. They will work in collaboration with a partner, asking for what they want to be captured by the camera. The photographer-therapist is there to give encouragement and support. Difficult and sometimes painful memories can come to light in these sessions, so it is important that the women know that they are in a secure setting, and that Rosy has a great deal of experience working with people to explore such issues. Photo-therapy is also playful! It presents an opportunity to have fun in performing different roles and women will be encouraged to use their bodies to express their feelings. In sharing with others, we may tell new stories about ourselves and envisage new possibilities!
You can see examples of Rosy’s work, find links to her exhibitions and essays and more information about her practice at: http://www.rosymartin.info.
To see the work on ageing and read Rosy Martin's essay on 'outrageous agers': http://www.varchive.org.uk/outrageous/index.html
To read an essay about phototherapy written by Rosy Martin: 'The Performative Body: Phototherapy and Re-Enactment' in Afterimage (Nov-Dec 2001) http://www.allbusiness.com/professional-scientific/specialized-design/963415-1.html
Commenting on the project, Rosy said: “It was turning 50 that made me want to explore how the dominant representations of older women showed only stereotypes of decline and redundancy. I wanted to challenge this, and find ways of representing my ageing self through my photographic practice in a subversive, playful and resistant way. I made 2 exhibitions on ‘Outrageous Agers’ in collaboration with Kay Goodridge. We also ran workshops with groups of older women. I am looking forward to running workshops working with women here in Sheffield to explore how we feel about how we are represented, and how we can make interventions into these heroine/victim scenarios – to be our own complex, strong and vibrant selves, and to make these images of ourselves visible.”
Eventus is a Sheffield-based cultural development agency which uses the transformative power of the arts to make a difference to people and places. Eventus works with the 23% of people recognised by Arts Council England research as ‘not currently engaged with the arts’: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/publication_archive/arts-audiences-insight/.
All Eventus projects include capacity building by involving local people in the design and management of the project by linking them into local resources that they may not have used previously. The organisation will: engage older women from priority neighbourhoods with which they already have established links; involve them in the selection of two artists; organise a community exhibition; and manage the project.
For the Look at Me! Project, Eventus will be working with:
1/ A group of 13 older women resident at Guildford Grange Extra Care Scheme, Norfolk Park, managed by Places for People http://www.placesforpeople.co.uk/
2/ A group of 11 older women who volunteer for Green Estate, an environmental social enterprise, based at the Manor and Castle area of Sheffield: http://www.greenestate.org.uk/
The approach taken will be based on good practice evidenced in previous Eventus projects: ‘Flowers in the Frame’ and ‘Postcards from Tinsley’. Both these projects worked with local residents to capture photographic images of their areas.
Eventus’s involvement in the Look at Me! project will provide the opportunity to consider the importance of neighbourhood to women’s views of ageing. Two professional photographers have been commissioned to encourage participants to try out creative techniques, and to capture images of what ageing means to the women in the group. Part of the process is to produce outcomes which can be shared with the local community. For example, previous projects have seen images reproduced as sets of postcards, street banners, and pull-up banners for local GP surgeries, schools and community buildings, and for display in local libraries and community hubs.
The photographer Laura Pannack has been commissioned to work with the Green Estate group. Laura, based in London, recently won a World Press Photo title (1st Prize in the Portraits Singles category). Read more about Laura on our Who’s Who page.
The photographer Monica Fernandez has been commissioned to work with the Guildford Grange group. Monica, based in Leicester, has exhibited in the U.K., Spain & Tenerife. Read more about Monica on our Who’s Who page.
Commenting on the project, Clare MacManus, Director of Eventus, said: "I’m hoping the project will produce some stunning images of groups of older women who are keen to explore their own identity. We hope the project will have a positive impact on the women’s wellbeing. We’re also looking forward to helping the women develop photographic skills which will benefit them when after the project is over."
For more on Eventus’s previous projects, please see: