Friday, 1 May 2015

Connecting and Relating

Credit: Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images
For the project so far I have nominated two collaborators, who are both keen to take part:

Dr Leah Tomkins has a background in classics, then worked in industry for 20 years, including as Director of Change at the Cabinet Office. Like me, she retrained in psychology at Birkbeck and then completed her PhD. She now works in the field of Organisational Studies. I invited Leah because of her understanding of how organisations succeed, and particularly because of her work around the notion of the 'caring leader' and the Heideggerian idea of 'care'. I am also currently collaborating with Leah on a project about experiences of happiness. One area of interest is how achievement and happiness can be bound together - but can involve experiences of anxiety and shame as well. I see Leah's interests fitting well with Michael's and my work on relationships (Leah is also an expert in the IPA method and the phenomenological psychology approaches we use) and foresee her being involved the 'relationships and connectedness' stream, but also she will contribute to our stream on 'individuals and hierarches' as well.

Dr Andreas Aresti and the British Convict Criminology group are committed to developing critical insider perspectives on prison and the experiences of prisoners. Andreas is both an ex-prisoner and an academic. As such, he researches with communities and individuals who are impacted by the prison experience and co-founded the British Convict Criminology movement, which is an emerging theoretical perspective (originating in the US) led by ex-convict/non-convict academics. The group takes a critical perspective to existing criminal justice issues. In particular he has looked at resettlement. I am keen to work with Andreas and other members of British Convict Criminology on the 'relationships and connectedness' stream, to explore further how relationships succeed during time inside, and during the difficult resettlement period. Andy also shares expertise in the IPA methodology, but also works in more collaborative participatory ways with groups and individuals. As well as working academically, he is involved in shaping policy and doing community work, such as mentoring. With his personal and academic experience I also think Andy will be a great contribution towards the 'social contexts and alternative cultures'.

I'm also very keen to invite SparkLondon - a storytelling company that hold events where members of the public share personal, true stories around a specific theme. Their tagline is 'connecting people through stories' and that's fits very well with my interest in relationships and narratives. I want to create an archive of stories of success in lots of different media. I love the Radio 4/British Library programme The Listening Project and the oral history work of StoryCorps in America. I hope that throughout the project we will be able to collect both oral stories, but also stories told through video and images, about people's successes (and failures) and what success means to them. I'm keen to invite a range of the general public as well as esteemed individuals known for success in particular areas to contribute to this archive, which would shared with the public during the project, and hopefully beyond.

I would also like to invite some creative practitioners to collaborate with us: Firstly, a contemporary dance company - ideally Siobhan Davies Dance - a company I have long admired, but never worked with when I worked in contemporary dance. Their work with galleries and museums around the theme of 'caring for the human body' and Siobhan Davies' reputation for investigative, innovative thinking and site-specific work. I would particularly like to see whether Davies is interested in the question of what makes dance relationships successful?  Secondly, I would love to collaborative with Curious (Helen Paris & Leslie Hill), who produce installation, performance and film artwork. Their approach to their work is similar to my approach to mine - we start with a question. In this case, perhaps as broad as what is success? But perhaps more tailored, what are successful connections? what makes successful artwork?

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