Over the past few months I have been working on the organisational side of the project and this month we finally started the first series of workshops with a group of Women from You trust in Hampshire.
I have several personal aims for this project. I want to bring female artists and women who do not call themselves artists together to allow discussion and dialogue to occur. I want to consider the limitations and liberation of working within an art world and art institutions vs outside of this, or doing both. I want to use these situations of dialogue as my research, but also give back by providing creative space and professional artist guidance for these groups of women to create themselves and exhibit work.
This project came about from my desire to consider current issues of gender and equality within a wider context, and within a context that encompasses the communities that I am a part of and live within. Alongside seeking discussion within the academic and activist circles that I am a part of, I felt it necessary to consider views that grow outside of these arenas. For this I needed to set up my own scenarios for discussion and working with FiLia to run this project felt like the best way to do this.
So far we have 3 artists, 3 groups of women, two venues including Downview Prison and two exhibition opportunities in London and locally. We ran the first two workshops in May and these allowed me to start to explore how as a group we can gain each others trust, feel relaxed and possibly document the events in some way. Having another Artist lead the sessions has worked well with this as it allowed me to be free to roam the workshop, join in and speak to the women. I was also able to photograph and film, but with the limitations of anonymity that is essential with this particular group.
Dialogue in the group has already begun, women teasing one another, but also supporting one another almost like family. There is presence of a support worker to consider, getting involved with the project which lends a feel of supervision, but also of security perhaps for the women. These sessions also have children present, an essential element when facilitating a group women with no local family support. This allows for the women to be relaxed knowing that their children are present, safe and occupied (with their own creative activities and play), but it also can be a distraction. A well known consideration for parents!
How much dialogue on current issues will occur naturally, I don’t know. I could lead it perhaps, but I don’t want to disrupt what comes naturally either. Is it important ‘what’ we talk about? Or is that simply my assumptions of current issues and what may be important?