Is it weird starting a blog at Christmas?
I haven’t blogged here since 2015, just at the point where I set up Wur Bradford, a responsive participatory arts project based in a Bradford market stall. Two and a half years on, Wur (Wur means ‘our’ and ‘we are) has become a bigger and more beautiful project than I could have hoped for or imagined, involving other artists doing collective creativity with people in many different ways, both in and beyond our market stall.
The journey which took me to setting up Wur is documented in my previous a-n blog, Reciprocity (2012-2015). Receiving a peer support bursary from a-n in 2013 was key in this journey- having the opportunity to have conversations with other regional artists and academics working in participatory/socio-political settings led me to locating my people-based work more consciously and confidently as socially engaged practice.
After setting up Wur Bradford, I found that I didn’t have the space, time and energy to blog any more – running the project was all consuming and took up all my mental capacity. Reflection and critical discussion happened as real time conversations with artist colleagues and peers; writing about it felt like too much.
More recently, as the delivery of Wur has become more collaborative and shared, with my two fantastic artist colleagues, Chemaine Cooke and Uzma Kazi, I’ve had more time and opportunity to come back to my own artistic practice and think about where I go next.
A hand injury three months ago needing surgeries and lots of recovery time has forced me to rest and though it’s been pretty challenging not having the use of my right hand, has given me time to get creatively re energised.
Also it has unexpectedly led to some new work that wouldn’t have happened had I had use of both hands: Last week, with a pot still on, I tried to make some collage – but because I couldn’t cut or stick, the pieces of each collage were unfixed. What to do with them? I found some clear bags and put each of the collages in to a bag.. I started thinking of them as DIY collages, that people could assemble themselves.. the chance element of how they appeared in the bag and how they might be fixed.. and how this is out of my control. One of the pieces which had hands and musical notation in spoke to me as a birthday present for my sister in law, Una, who is a musician and improviser. Then I started thinking about them as scores for sound or movement.. and my brain has been exploding ever since. Finally, after months of pain and tiredness I feel like I have returned to my artist self, and that I’m BACK.
I’ve been exploring ideas of randomness/ chance/accidents in my work for a number of years in different ways
These processes and games have connected with ideas of making/remaking meaning, the provisional nature of meaning, how we make and remake and enact it on an everyday level..I’ve been drawn to the makeshift, the shapeshifty
Mapping, transition and movement have also been continuing thematic threads through a number of recent and current projects of different kinds – from ‘We Are Here’ a Wur Bradford collaboration in a Bradford market with movement artist Chemaine Cooke, to co-developing My Next Chapter For Creatives, a new programme for artists in transition with creative coach and facilitator Bev Morton. Both of these pieces of work will be taking off in 2018 – so this little epiphany, borne out of frustration and limitation feels super-charged and full of possibility.
I’m so excited to capture and develop these ideas. It also feels really important to document them- to track how they grow and might connect. Blogging about the process means a more conscious and committed exploration – trying to articulate what’s going on (not always easy!) means I can better keep hold of it and try to understand it. And share!
It’s really, really good to be back.