JOURNEY of my MA RESEARCH QUESTION

This was my research question at the end of Unit One ;

HOW CAN SELF-AWARENESS, AND ALSO RAISING AWARENESS OF, MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA, BE USED TO CHALLENGE AMD MAKE CHANGES TOWARDS ERADICATING IT IN SOCIETY ?

My journey.

I never felt comfortable with the absolute term of “eradicate”. As it is impossible to do and it is the way politicians operate (everything is either black or white!}.    eg Sadiq Khan latest 6 point plan for London includes “A zero suicide city”.      Though I suppose if you aim high it has more impact.  rather than “nearly” or “about”    and so on.

I was aware of the pitfalls of putting “Mental Health”     and      “Art” together.      I knew I would have to resist   the “boxes”  of Outsider Art   and    Art Therapy.    Neither of which relate to my interests or areas of expertise,

What I am interested in is fighting mental health stigma  and continuing to push making my art as far as I will keep doing,

And amazingly, both feed powerfully into each other,  And increasingly so since I started this MAAI course,

 

As part of my MA Question, initially, I had included “photography” .. But at an early stage I removed it when challenged by tutors,  I could not really verbally justify why that had been in my Question then.

I replaced it with the more general term “Art”.  But this did not work for me as it is not what I am about .   Thinking further I concluded that my photography had always been the Intervention of my research proposal.  I have been testing over the months to make them powerful and appropriate and specifically well “designed” enough to be a successful tool of change,

I now feel fully confident putting it back into my Question.  But only after a long journey of activity and reflection,   Basically my photos are the  tools of my Intervention for change..

This has been consolidated during Unit Two by feedback from my Events, and also talking about what I am upto to the public at large.

 

Another part of my Question I struggled with was whether to keep ” mental health”  in it as a specific stigma area,          I have no interest in researching mental health.     I communicate as an artist and an educator.   So I took “mental health” out and left “stigma” to stand alone.

However that did not work for me as 1) it is much too broad a subject and 2) to have a chance of a successful  outcome I need to start from what I know. That is to start small and from some point of knowledge.

In the last 18 months or so, I seem to become an Expert (?)  in, what became apparent to me as an artist in the community.  And that is the stigma of mental health and mental illness.  Way before this MA course was a twinkle in anyone’s eye!   I began thinking and being curious about this very damaging stigma.

Thus it made sense to keep “mental health” as the specified stigma in my Question.

 

Finally, did I need both “self-awareness” and “awareness” in my Question ?         The way I have now worded my most recent version of my Question I feel it only needs “awareness” to put across my intentions.

HOW CAN MY PHOTOGRAPHY ENCOURAGE SELF-EXPLORATION OF PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS, SO LEADING TO RAISING AWARENESS OF DETRIMENTAL THINKING AND BEHAVIOURS, AS A WAY TOWARDS  DE-STIGMATIZING MENTAL HEALTH IN OUR SOCIETY ?

 

UPDATE AUGUST 19 2018

The group event of 16 August was the first time I have ever displayed my photographs.          It seems timely after that for me to evaluate my development as a photography artist.   My photos are my Intervention for my MA Research Question so this is important on several levels.

I am aware the MAAI course is stretching and challenging the way I think and learn as I had hoped when I came on the course.   This now seems to be reflected by that my artphoto work is not static even though I really do struggle at times to make it do and say what I want.

I have been lucky to hear the artists Joan Jonas, and more recently, Jenny Holzer talk in person about their life creative journeys.  W hich has encouraged me to know its ok to persevere.

Remember I have only in the last 18 months been using photography as my form of image making for my artistic purpose.   It is very freeing up for me as I go out of my comfort zone and explore from that part of myself also.  I was so nervous on 16 August.

During the untimetabled part of Unit 2, I have really worked at getting to know what my photo making device is capable of.  And most of the time it is hit or miss serendipity !

Just before the event on 16 August I realised I now “paint” make my photos. Rather than being dictated to by the limitations of using a digital device. A lovely moment !  And of course there are no limits unless I set them!                         It being a technical means is no longer an obstacle.

I remember it was no different with oil painting ( and watercolours } after I d left art school.  It took me years of solid endeavour before I learnt how to use the medium so it became a natural mode of expression and therefore communication for me.

All this is relevant in terms of extending and making more powerful my Intervention to hopefully have the impact and future outcomes I am aiming for with my MA Research Question.

GROUP STAKEHOLDER INTERVENTION EVENT 16 AUGUST 2018

ROOM C105  CSM    5.30-8pm,

( Eva, John, Rhiannon )

A few days beforehand I emailed them copy of my (draft)  MA Question with its 100 words outline.

I set the room up with a large table in the centre with 6 A5 display books laid out on it.      I used 3 walls to display the 40 A3 colour photos.    The 4th wall was all windows.  On my planning visit I had worked out how to incorporate this.

Wall 1 ]  Kings Place/Canal series    17 photos

Wall 2 ]  Cranes (Blackfriars}  series      9 photos

Wall 3 ]   Still Life Abstracts      14 photos

 

6 Display Books  on the Table      :

Fog Sculpture

Blackfriars  NOT Crane series

Leicester Square

MOTHER

Askew Road

Grapes

 

For this event I decided to give them each a small notebook and pen from the outset.  I d learnt from the 3 previous events that a lot of concentration and ideas and thoughts whilst experiencing the Intervention made everyone ask for something to write on at some point during it.

This event I introduced the added interaction and feedback element.

Using a digital voice recorder I taped them having a group discussion after they had experienced  the Intervention.     I was asked if they meant to read out their notes.  I said only if they wanted to.  Or could use notes to help jog their thoughts.  They did the latter well knowing they had the security of their notes, I think.    I have that short recording.    They quite shy doing it so I am glad I not ask them that I videoed the discussion on my smartphone.

I started the event with us sitting together by the table and I read out the paper I had emailed them and I answered questions on it.  This was more indepth than I had expected and I was glad I had teaching experience .  I had purposely chosen members of the public and know nothing about 2 of them and the third only a little.   2 were young adults and it is great for me when I see , after they struggled with what my research was for,  the sudden understanding and agreeing nodding heads.   They all worked so hard that day.

I was able to lighten things up so it was seen also as a playful experience when I showed them my Invitation to them to go on this Journey.   They like everyone previously, liked their 3 quotation cards “going home” presents.

I then left the room.  I knew they were shy as never done this type of thing before and they (like me!) had no idea where the Journey would lead.  I am glad I did so as when I peeked after 10 minutes they either walking round the walls or sitting on table writing in notebook,

Below I have copied from the 3 notebooks   :

NOTEBOOK ONE

”  Things look different when a reflection is blurred. The world is discovering new ways to make things .        Change can be an amazing achievement .  Looking inside something you cannot see  makes me curious. ”

NOTEBOOK TWO

”  The way you look at something can change what you see.         Something may not be apparent from one perspective but be in plain sight from another,   Black and white photos display that you cannot see a true picture through one lens,                    You need to open your mind and sight, to truly understand,             What appears on the surface is not the reality.      A reflection can be disfigured and inaccurate.                              Don’t judge from a reflection.                    Look at the real subject,                                     Any issue or problem can seem overwhelming but from another perspective it can appear miniscule.                      Find your own perspective in life and don’t look through another person’s lens.”

NOTEBOOK THREE       ( I found this handwriting very difficult to read }

”  Same place will reflect differently in different occasions.   Looking ——–         It s like a test.      Something from the past feeling.                                                               Difficult to see if its the same thing.                                      That speaks more to me.   I still have different feelings of the same thing / and experience the thing / —”


Before we went for a drink all gave me their email addresses.  As they all keen I send them a feedback questionnaire in September.

Rhiannon told me her boyfriend just started a photography course and she knew he would have loved to have been part of the event.   So I offered to fix something sometime with him.  So I wiil do so as she also said he quite shy and could she come with also.

 

 

 

3rd STAKEHOLDER EVENT TUESDAY 31 JULY 2018 (LARA)

Café/bar York Way 11am,          Lara is younger than my previous participants.    Her social life meant she had to keep cancelling !      But the event went well. It was quite intensive but fruitful for us both.

As with my previous two, once we explore mental health and stigma I draw out knowledge and experience I not known. Including the shame and isolation noticed in our society.

The intervention for Lara to experience was confined to 7 display books I showed her one at a time.   At the end I laid them all on the table for her to go back to and compare her earlier thoughts etc with.

  1. Fog sculpture
  2. Blackfriars
  3. Leicester square
  4. MOTHER
  5. Kings Place
  6. Askew Road
  7. Grapes

I handed her my Invitation to  a Journey.      This she found intriguing and informative.

I also gave her the 3 quotations on separate colour cards as “take home” present.           She liked that a lot.     =  engagement.

Below are her direct quotations I wrote down as she journeyed in the Intervention.

Horizon often wonky.  Not straight vision. Shifting realities.     You want to shift your viewing by moving your head / body to SEE better   and to understand better what you are   seeing.

Moving around it the subject partially revealed so your brain makes some of it up.           ( Note: we at this point talked a bit about the brain and its need to complete things etc}

Move close and then move far to look.      But also neither as well.

I feel like I am not seeing as a human      –   but as a dog would,       Or a child or in a wheelchair.           =   different perspectives.            Always moving.

Brain always defines what you are seeing.        Then you come to assumptions. But then that is changed           again and again.          =    the Journey.                            Like Metamaphorsis.

= “Making the familiar unfamiliar”   makes you uncomfortable.

– Lots of layers.        Lots of images within images.        whether inside or outside.        As all of them ‘ subjects’ get revealed.

Curiousity to explore.       Pairing realities and different realities.  Next to each other.    This is the journey.     The series is an important part of it.  It works because they are in special series and is a different way of seeing.

You have a physical interaction as cannot help moving head and body to try to understand and then have become involved and learn even more.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Lara was totally up that I email a questionnaire in September to complete to her.

She helpfully reminded me of my interest in the Wellcome Collection to follow up.

She also gave me ABC Imaging Farringdon contact, Which solved my A3 printing problem.

Helpfully she fed back that I should put the display books on a table as well as large prints on the walls in my future group intervention event.  Her view being they would make it an even more interactive event.

UPDATED WORKPLAN (30.7.2017)

TIMETABLE

Tuesday 31 July 11am York Way   .       3rd Stakeholder  Lara  Intervention Event

Thursday 2 August.  Visit RAA Tacita Dean “Landscapes” photography exhibition

Friday 3 August. Meet RR and view room C105 to start planning group stakeholder event there on Thursday 16 August.

Saturday 4 August. Visit the Bethlem Gallery, Kent.

Tuesday 7 August.   CSM Library.  To print photos for Intervention event.                    I will need to choose how many and what photo series before this date.

Thursday 16 August . Group Intervention Event.                                                                         Monday 13 August.  make contact to confirm as they return from holiday.

P L A N  for   16 A U G U S T

I have had to take into account that the quality of the photos printed in the library is inferior to ones done in the Digital Developing Dept.  This is shut for refurbishment till end Sept,

So the various series working with Reflections will not be good enough to have the effect they elicit in the appropriate developing technique.

Therefore I will need to choose for this Intervention photos that evoke curiousity and challenge perceptions via asymmetry, dichotomy, paradox etc. these series have worked well as part of earlier Interventions.

Last week I did a test run of 8 photos using the equipment in the library.  Which I will use as a guide when organizing this Intervention.

I will have  as well as these photos on the walls, I will have on a table the display books with photos in various Reflections series,   As they are an important part of the Intervention.    They were in this way of display for earlier research interaction.

I am trying to keep to my immersive / interaction experience of the Tate Rothko Room

I am looking into a device to record (.not video) the group discussion part of my Intervention on the 16th..     Feedback on this aspect was a relief it not videod but also excited interest in being part of this.

 

I am playing with idea of sending a follow up questionnaire to all my stakeholders.

Around what they “learnt” / discovered  with the Intervention (positive and/or negative) and any impact on their life, how they view the world etc etc.   To explain in what areas and how,,,,,,, Also  a Comments section,

 

w/c 30 July      ACTION

: read all feedback by tutors, cohorts, assessments and my own writings about my MA Question.

: put in a post for my Learning Log describing my (and ongoing) journey with my Question.

: my visit to the Dragon Café on Monday 23 July –  collect my thoughts on quite a difficult experience.  Put it in my Learning Log.

: look into Skoll Foundation

: follow up Joan Jonas idea

: prepare for 3rd stakeholder event on Tuesday 31 July

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

 

 

 

STAKEHOLDER INTERVENTION updates

FIRST INTERVENTION EVENT     15 JUNE   booked large room CSM

Beth comes from background of working in NHS / LGBT interest / experience and knowledge of mental health stigma / photography .

I handed her    a card ” AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE ”    This is my invitation to you To go on a Journey of Exploration, Discovery and Contemplation.

Then I spoke about specifics to do with my photos :      Reflections ( water, glass, windows, buildings ) Mirrors     (did not show this series).   Doorways, Through windows and fences and gates ,  Shadows ,  In and Out.                                 Hide and Seek, Making the Familiar Unfamiliar.

This led seaminglessly onto me presenting Beth with my intervention, I showed her one photo series at a time.  I had carefully chosen the order.               1 . Fog Sculpture      2. Blackfriars       3.  Leicester Square     4.  Station platforms  5. 02 Abstracts   6, Box Abstracts    7.  Cushion Abstracts   8.  Askew Road     9. Grapes

Initially I had to explain and lead more than I d anticipated. Though this is an enjoyable part of research for me.       ( Later I found out I d misunderstood RM saying the intervention should be effective even if I am absent ).

Beth asked if she could write bullet ponts as so many thoughts were coming up as she progressed.              I encouraged her to go back and forth as she viewed each file.    And I saw the “penny drop” moments she experienced.

I gave her times of silent activity as well as interaction.  At times she d physically touch a photo to show me what she d realised and discovered.             As progressed she spoke about how she related to what she was now looking at to what she d seen in early files .

Thus making all the separate photo series into a whole interactive intervention.  Something I had aimed for.

BETH s FEEDBACK

She also fed back to me via a full email the next week.                                                      She had learnt not to assume what she was seeing was what she was seeing and she learnt to explore further and was rewarded for doing so.  Initially it took her time to realise the photos were doing pffering this.   She said her curiousity had been evoked by each series in different ways.  She talked about “mind ganes” and playing with reality.      Also becoming aware of unexpected beauty.                                     She d been made aware of her own assumptions of what she looked at as when she looked further the photos enticed her to SEE.

She said she could the intervention as a way of education on several levels, specifically to do with tackling intrenched thinking underlying mental health stigma.

I gave her the interventions 3 coloured cards to take away.

” New ways of seeing the world ”    by Wolfgang Tillmans.                                                 “Society changes as we tell different stories” by Jeanette Winterton.                   “You need to love what you do – as failure is inevitable” by Nile Rogers.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

ANNA   SECOND STAKEHOLDER INTERVENTION     EVENT

4th July  in pub in Woolwich Arsenal.

I made changes for this intervention from what I assessed from the one with Beth.

  1.  each photo series must be in its own separate file
  2. reduce the number of series I present at the one event
  3. photos must be displayed so the file does not need to be turned for viewing
  4. I had amended some series files ( add or removing) so not to dilute what is being presented
  5. it worked well giving Beth one file at a time and then putting it closed on the table. I also suggested Anna go back to her first file of Fog Sculpture after her final file.   This was illuminating for both of us as she realised she had been on a journey of discovery combating her assumptions of what she saw. And she took that new knowledge when she returned to look at herfirst file and this time it was a richer more knowledgable experience.

This is Anna s list of files she viewed :

1. Fog Sculpture  2.  Blackfriars  3.  Leicester Square   4.  MOTHER    5. Kings Place   6.   Askew Road    7.  Grapes.

Otherwise I ran Anna s intervention event as I had with Beth.

Anna s has background of MA in Pschology / works for Healthwatch / photography .

She feedback ” it was to do with challenging myself.  Taking the time to see things differently and from different perspectives.    Not moving at a pace/style society sets me.”

She said I should add Shifting Realities” to my list of components,    and “Knowledge” to my Invitation.

She gave me contacts of possible use  –  The Maytree – Psychology Today website  –   mental health Lead s name for Healthwatch Lambeth as he be good for my approach to the Dragon Café to do group intervention there.

Anna also liked taking with her the 3 cards with quotations.

BOTH ANNA and BETH were hooked by my 100 word outline of my research question I had sent when I first approached them.   My proposal really interested them and made them want to be involved,  I don’t really know them that well..

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

My third stakeholder is now rescheduled for 20th July at a café in Kings X.

DATES OF ACTIVITY 12 june to 4 July

12 June  –  Viv Eades librarian session with me.

15 June –  first stakeholder ( B )     booked large meetimg room

18 June  –   MAAI Showcase event ( see previous post )

20 June  –   tutorial with Richie Manu

23 June  –   saw RED play about Mark Rothko by John Logan

24 June   –   Riverside Artists Group exhibition talks

2 July   –    second stakeholder ( L ) cancelled at last minute. To be rearranged

4 July   –   third stakeholder ( A )  Woolwich Arsenal –  large pub

PIVOTAL MOMENT

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-14,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,

David final WWHI tutorial group.    working in pairs explain our research project and write feedback to each other.

Preparing for this I realised I was still muddled in my mind of the appropriateness of wording in my question. Then suddenly I went back to my initial passion and grabbed 4 objects as tools I knew I could now use as visuals, rather than words.  Which also confirmed to myself that I still wanted to work with my initial reason why I wanted to do research.    I now knew with clarity way forward.   It is so easy to be side lined as so many avenues to explore pop up.

The 4 objects are symbolic. Thus I could hold each in turn to explain quite difficult concepts to my partner.

Since my interest is with communication (as an artist and art is about communication) and stigma being a bastardized form of communication based on assumptions.  I wanted to try this physical form of communication to talk about the importance of not just LOOKING but TO SEE.

SUNGLASSES  –  symbol of not being able to see clearly, choosing to be in the dark.                                                                                                                                                              SPECTACLES  –   trying to be able to see                                                                                  BINOCULARS    –    to explore and see what is in distance.                                                MAGNIFYING GLASS  –   to explore and see clearly what is close up.

SHOWCASE INTERVENTION EVENT 18/6/2018

Tutor Brief  :  What did I learn from it?

I was glad I was at the end of a row of tables as

a) it confirms my idea I want people to be able to walk around/be interactive

b) other parts of the room seemed chaotic and not really how I best operate.

I had not quite understood the brief. I had thought that I was to set up my intervention so that if I was not present it would still be just as viable as an intervention to the stakeholder.    So not to rely on myself playing an interactive role with the stakeholder so the project was understood and meaningful.   To this end I had added various “hooks”,

I had therefore seen the aim of the brief was to focus on putting in place an intervention that could stand on its own, And this semed quite a good exercise for me!    As on the previous Friday with my first stakeholder, I was totally part, initially, of that experience with her.  Which I know is something I can do as I love explaining about things of interest to me.  I will give Richie a copy of her feedback .

I did understand tutors would come and question us on our intervention sometime during the event.

But I was disappointed that  Richie did not go to actually see my intervention on the table. it was more a verbal experience between us by the table. Not a visual one as had been by my stakeholder.

I am aware that feedback by stakeholders must not be about the content but about the question

Also Richie queried my lack of a 100 word outline of my proposal. I had not realised I needed to do one for the Showcase event, And I had thought that had been an exercise only for 2 weeks ago when I had submitted it.    Though I know my Question needs constant reiterating .

I had seen Richie coming as a stakeholder to SEE my intervention (Showcase) as well as quite rightly, questioning me on what was displayed after he had done so.     Boundaries of intent all got a bit blurred for me when he seemed to be wearing his tutor s hat and all took place as outlined above,    I would have been ok if I d understood from the outset that was the way it was meant to be.   And I was disappointed.  I did tell Richie at the time that I had been chewing over words and single words for months which as I love words I did enjoy and learnt so much from.  But I loved this opportunity for the chance to extend myself further with the visual intervention to answer questions and show what my Question is presenting as a proposition

CONCLUSIONS

I must continue to closely question what every brief requires so I understand better what is being required.

Remind myself that less can sometimes be more.  My assigned show area was too small for the amount I displayed and so maybe was confusing and thus uninviting ?   I had ensured plenty of table space for my first stakeholder and so that part had not been a problem.

it is so important each viewing takes into account the specifics for each separate stakeholder. Not just how I engage with each of them but also all the elements I present for an outcome that is helpful to my research.

Finally I was worried when I had been trying to answer Richie s questions I had appreared to be aggressive, which I did not feel in anyway. He has

assured me that I did not come over as that.

WWHI 2 May 2018

UPDATE ON THINKING AND ACTIONS

My project arose out of Passion/Interest which led to cognitive thinking and planning. I am now at stage of approaching stakeholders with my first intervention.

First I need to understand where I am coming from    –    confirm my belief in my belief,      And most importantly   –  what is underpinning it  all.

Then I will have the confidence that being prepared brings me.  And feel and present myself as a professional.

the last few weeks I have been revisiting the WHAT? and the WHY?        as I feel uncomfortable at some things I have said and written.  Arrogance ????? !                  This has made me feel stuck.                                   But remembering “If you want to be an artist. Be an artist”.                             I had chosen 3 separate Stakeholders.                                                                        And then last Tuesday s seminar was of great help and timely for me.   Particularly the different means of communication we were asked to use that day freed up my thoughts and so

  1. I was able to acknowledge to myself I was “stuck” which was preventing me progressing to my next stage,
  2. it was surprising the cohorts reaction to what I spoke about and that so many raised their hands signifying they have similar self doubts as I do

3 the tutors comments on what I d said were so very helpful to bringing me back to basics. Especially that it was not merely personal reflection, but interior combining with exterior at this stage of my journey. And reminding me that this is the only world I have got and I have the same right as anyone else in it to try to make positive changes. Why not?

CONCLUSION        I was born in the world with thse useful skills etc.   so I may as well use them.

WAY FORWARD   I have a date for my first stakeholder intervention.        I will start “small” and learn how best to proceed from feedback.              I am working on the photo series I aim to use for the first intervention.    RESEARCH   appropriate to the above.    (which was unexpectedly so fruitful to me).

1/6/2018 Tate Modern. Joan Jonas in conversation with Dame Marina Warner.       QUOTATIONS.                                                                                                 JJ  “Learn to look  –  we look in different ways. And the image changes, it has its own energy. How you experience looking is personal.”                   Mirrors are complicated = public and personal elements.                                  distortions-reflections.   Altering the space and perspective.                      Use mirrors to change an image for the audience. She also spoke about illusions, perspections and shadows. Brecht and disruption. And her work disrupting the romantic involvement. Her being seeing as Surrealism which she does by putting 2 things together that don’t go together and then they make a different sense.      And playing with shadows in her self portraits.     And making the familiar strange.

22/5/2018 Royal Academy curator talk on Tacita Dean Landscapes.         She works with chance, mind-wandering, serendipity. subconscious.        Influenced by Paul Nash. “his finding of an object meant it existed”           Chance relationships, idea-driven research.     The act of finding by chance.   She makes “puzzle” pictures where small differences have to be spotted. Subtle but also a sense of fun in her work.                                       TD ” Picking an object out of its context embeddes it in Time”.

I am overwhelmed in the similaritires in thought of these two female artists. One born in 1936 and the other in the 1950s.

Both have current large exhibitions I am going back to visit.  I saw installations and minor showings of their work.  And then I will further enjoy comparing these 2 artists.                                                                                     Both are passionate about ecology.     One champions analogue photography and the  other embraces all new technology ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,                                                                                                  Research is very important to both their ways of working.