This week I have been firming up dates and plans for my artist parent residency research event at Manchester Art Gallery in November. I wanted to use a space that can accommodate everyone with activities for the children and adults to take part in. Although I am very aware to not mention the ‘r’ word in the advertising for the event as it doesn’t sound fun and it comes across as a bit boring to people outside of academia. I have been kindly allowed to use the CLORE Art Studio that was designed by Jessica Wilde and Sarah Marsh a space for the family to come together and explore pattern using exciting colourful materials http://manchesterartgallery.org/learn/families/clore-art-studio/. As an artist using the space it is a ready-made frame to create new activities by using what is already there. The three main aims of the event are to probe and gather responses to what priorities artist parents need from a residency. What are the barriers to taking part? What are their professional development needs? I have been designing simple activities to gather this information and I feel an ‘Explainer’ performative lead through the space is key to engaging people. I have been working with Michiko Fujii on developing the activities and we had another fun, energizing and creative meeting. It has been essential to talk with Michiko and Sarah who regularly work with the space and the public who have offered useful feedback on how to get the best out of the session.
Last week the city was a buzz with the Manchester Contemporary and Buy Art Fair however I got sidetracked by an event at NQ2022 that I was introduced to by a friend http://www.twentytwentytwo.co.uk. The event was Manchester Feminist Freshers Fair located in a massive basement ping-pong bar, a surprising site to host a series of talks. To the left of the entrance is a smaller gallery that had been transformed into a lecture space and it was great to see so many women together in one room. One of the speaker’s Olukemi Amala a psychotherapist, academic, novelist and activist was running late and then later into the event what had actually happened was that she could not get access to the basement space, as the wheelchair lift was broken http://www.olukemiamala.com. She was here to talk about intersectionality a term I had not heard of before. Ironically the subject she was invited to speak about in that moment affected her mobility with no one in advance pre-checking accessibly issues before her arrival. Why would you check this issue if it doesn’t effect you personally? This question or attitude is central to intersectionality and a lack of empathy towards other people’s issues. We all ended up standing outside and listening to her inspirational talk, which really struck a cord with me as a woman, mother, and artist trying to hear the voices of people who are being excluded from artist residencies. She made a good point of how many facilitators/managers try and fix people and their problems however their individual issues are already known to them its about actually listening and empathizing. We all have barriers to overcome in our daily lives so the question is how can we all reach up and over them together?