Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Live Propositions, a series of one-to-one performances, Moore Street, Glasgow

During November and December 2010, we were offered an unused flat as a space to work with by Molendinar Housing Association. We used this as an opportunity to explore some of the processes we had developed during our residency working with parents of premature babies the Neonatal Unit, Southern General Hospital (2009-10).

We each literally brought elements of our own practice into the space: paintings, found objects and a number of photographs from our own personal collections. Ideas evolved around what made that particular space distinct in terms of architecture, neighbours and neighbourhood, and what it might mean to invite someone into this temporary studio space, and what form that invitation might make.

Exploring the format of a flat viewing, an invited audience were directed around the flat guided by gentle instructions.

Friday, 17 September 2010

research & development for Neonatal project, Phase 2 with Director, Rachel Clive

In September 2010 we asked writer and performance director Rachel Clive to work with us for a day to develop some techniques for working with the cut-up texts made with material from parents, midwives, doctors and consultants during Phase 1 of our residency in the neonatal unit. The intention was to test on ourselves some of the approaches we may develop for use with parents and medical staff during a second phase of the project. In particular during a workshop encouraging parents and staff to reflect on their own experience and perspective of the unit.

To provide context, we projected some of the images taken while in the unit, played some audio recordings of ambient sounds from the wards, and one interview with a set of parents. Rachel gave us some performance and vocal warm up exercises, and we created collaborative "body sculptures".

Rachel also interviewed us using the questionnaire we had devised for use with parents and clinical staff during the residency as the basis for her questions. She also directed us through some vocal exercises using the cut-ups from parents and medical staff, and we made several spatial arrangements of objects to create a space parallel to the environment of the neonatal unit. She then asked us to place ourselves in relation to this. We learned a lot throughout these exercises, and found it really useful to put ourselves in the shoes of the parents in this way.

our interpretation of an incubator & the space around this using found objects

We need to make this a safe, enjoyable and purposeful workshop for parents when the time comes. Our work with Rachel confirmed that when working with parents, the exercises and outcomes must be clearly relevant to them, especially during the discussion and deconstruction of the experience. 

We came up with a check list:
  • Have a clear idea of outcomes
  • a workshop for peers, ie parents with parents
  • a New-parent specific peer workshop
  • Prepare participants with clear information about our aims and provide a clear outline of the workshop activities.
  • Ask parents about what they would like to get out of the workshop in relation to our plans.
  • Speak to consultants at the neonatal unit about what could be gained from the workshop for parents and for themselves.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Day 3, text / voice and image, Research & Development, Phase 2, Neonatal Project

We experimented speaking the words of the cut up texts made from the transcriptions of interview material with parents. Photographs taken by ourselves while in residence in the neonatal unit were used as a backdrop for the voice, opening up interesting juxtapositions and new meaning from the material.

A link to an audio file of Kirsty speaking one of the Parent's cut-ups can be heard here.

Here are some still images with examples of the cut up texts.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Day 2 - voice & space, research & development, Phase 2, Neonatal Project, with Susan Worsfold

Day 2 with Susan Worsfold exploring voice and space

The aim of the day was to explore the voice, cut-ups in relation to the physical space.

What we did ......
  • Voice warm ups and exercises & tone work.
  • One line of parents' text at a time, full volume.
  • One line on our own, one line together.
  • Exploring archetypes: 3 zones (parents on a chair at the side, consultants on stool elevated, baby on floor facing projected slideshow of images from unit). Rules: to deliver one line at a time and then to move to different zone. The baby zone was to be non-verbal and continuous tone or choose not to make a sound at all; parents could choose any line from parents' cut up; consultants could choose any of artists' questions. You could choose where the or to whom the text could be directed to.

  • Repeated above but introduced nurses cut up, consultant's cut up and artists questions. The artists zone was in centre and the parents' zone at the side, and the other zones were as above. The rule for the nurses was to be continually moving while reading the texts. Then changed the zones, so artist were at side and parents zone was in the middle.
  • Repeated exercise and the changed what role was performed in each zone. Eg. nurses on floor, consultants were at the side, parents were in the middle, artists kept moving and baby high up on stool.

  • Sentences from parents' cut up were placed around a chair, eg on base, on back rest, on legs. Kirsty sat on chair and delivered texts, moving around chair.

  • Same set up as above and Steven sat adjacent and asked artists' questions to Kirsty. Kirsty replied but using one sentence of parent's cut-ups, moving around the chair.

  • Steven delivered one line, "Waiting for cuddle was worth it, really worth it, but sometimes i just felt, will she know." Punctuation was a cue to take a breath, change physical orientation and deliver the words. Started will full energy and brought the volume down to emotive depth over time.

Observations / Reflections

What did we learn?
  • possible exercises for parents and staff: observations of environment / photos. List of words, or conversations to which images are a backdrop. Eg, one each could generate 3 different responses from parent, nurse, consultant.
  • give camera to them and ask them to each photograph an aspect of the unit, eg reflections, a space they are comfortable with, spend longest time. This may help represent their role.
  • Axel Venvoordt - curator creates a whole to present art and antiques in a domestic type space, the way you can relate to art could be from a well designed couch, how your body's position relates or effects your experience of an art work or a creative space.
  • dialogue important, nurses & nurses, nurses & parents.
  • tight structure important
  • physical orientation of body helps relational dynamic.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Infant Journal article, Creative Bonds artist-in-residence

  Together with Dr Madeleine White, we published an article on the Creative Bonds artist-in-residence in Infant Journal, "Parental participation in a visual arts programme on a neonatal unit". Infant 2010; Vol 6 (Issue 5) pp 165-69. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

"Creative Bonds": a practical performance-based workshop for 3rd year medical students, Special Studies Module, Glasgow Medical School.

On 14th June 2010 we gave a joint presentation with Dr. Madeleine White to third year Medical students at the University of Glasgow as part of their module in the Medical Humanities. This was followed by a half day practical performance-based workshop. workshop outline:-

Explore communication, non-verbal communication, behaviour and how we all subconsciously adapt and change behaviour in different situations.

· To heighten observation and non-verbal communication skills.
· To consider physical spatial relationships and how these influence how people behave.
· To explore embodied experience as a means of self and group reflection.
· To relate these experiences to experience of medical practice and working

The use of practical exercises drawn from performance and improvisation exercises and group critique, as developed through our own art practices.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Day 1 - voice, research & development for Phase 2, Neonatal Project, working with Director, Susan Worsfold

We used the cut-ups of parents' texts as the basis for several days working with Director, Susan Worsfold. Our aim was to open up the process of working with the parents' text and to begin to relate this to some of the issues raised so far, including: the role and challenges of being the artist - facilitator, relating the texts to the physical space, both real or imagined.

We used Nadine George's voice technique as the basis for the practical research using voice, delivering lines of text to each other, while moving around the space, positioning ourselves in an imagined space of the neonatal unit, and using breath in between shifts in focus and orientation.

observations / reflections
  • How do we treat the texts? Do re work and tidy up the cut-ups, or are they were work in progress after all?
  • Space and the gaze as mediator.
  • Video and audio recordings as mediators.
  • Phrases on the wall and clear instructions or set of behaviours for delivering and selecting those phrases. Place these around a space.
  • Would a "closed" performance be an appropriate format to explore?
  • Develop techniques and approaches to help explore with parents and medical staff, to help them separate themselves from their words.
  • What other material do we have which we haven't explored so far?
  • Could we make something for them and present this back to them and invite them to develop aspects of this through performance? This approach worked while we were on the unit, but would it work now?
  • In Phase 1 of project we created a context and situation and invited others to experience, shape and comment on this, ie. conversation, questionnaire, photographs. Could we develop this in Phase 2. Could the parents provide the "rules" / behaviours and we read / deliver a text or vice versa? This could combine interrupt / press pause / interject into this to shape what that becomes.
  • How text can effect movement, and how space effects movement and text.
  • Find specific spaces? Combine video material? Concern not to make too specific to one space. Find what is general to be able to apply this and make specific. Consider the question: What is the opposite of this space?