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.