Our 2018 Self-Identity and Home artist commission projects are coming to an end and last weekend Sarah Cole and Annis Joslin (of Self-Identity) penned a reflection of their time with the project participants; discussing things that they have learned and the thought-provoking artwork that they have created. Read their final ‘Messy Business’ blog, below.
We are coming to the end of our time with Joining Hands Joining Hearts. Yesterday it was the People United Away Day, a coming together that bookends the commissions, bringing artists and partners together to reflect on the work and the process over the past eight months.
It was nice to see everyone and hear about how the Home commission went, with artist Anna Ray. Also useful for us to consider what we have most enjoyed, how our collaboration has evolved and what we want to do from here.
Last week we met to discuss a residency we are planning in March 2019. Our plan is to extend the research from Messy Business, to try out some new approaches and ideas that have surfaced for us during the process of making the work with the women of JHJH. Exciting to have this opportunity to extend our work together and to approach the subject matter from a different perspective.
Our videos are now complete. There are six in total, with a running time of 19 minutes when watched consecutively in the order we have constructed. The videos can also work as stand-alone pieces to be used as provocations for conversations, for the outreach work JHJH do in local schools and other venues.
Last week we watched them all with JHJH, having tweaked a few bits following various conversations the week before. Everyone seems happy that the work does what we set out to do, and most importantly, that it speaks of their experiences, their camaraderie, hopes and fears. We also revisited an exercise we did at the start of the project, using images to help us talk about how some of the women feel very differently about their lives now. One aspect of this work that seems to have been most valuable has been the chance to not only be heard by us but also for their group to better understand each other and to have gained enormous strength from this. JHJH have become quite a formidable group of women, increasingly political, more outspoken and confident that they have things to say, without apology or reserve.
Our final time together will be on 14th December. There will be a screening, with drinks and a few songs and we’ve got a new ukulele for the event! Guests are by invitation only, not because we aren’t ready for a more public event but because the work is intensely personal and we felt that we all deserved to celebrate it with family and friends before releasing it in to the world. A chance to pat ourselves on the back and let trusted allies in to see what we’ve made.
Endings are always hard but this one feels particularly so. The women of JHJH have been more than welcoming – they have cared for us in ways we couldn’t have expected. Their door is never opened without a hug, our lives have become entwined with theirs, we’ve been given advice on all matter of issues and concerns and accommodated even when there’s been other very pressing problems to be dealt with on the day. It’s been a glorious madness, lots of tears, huge amounts of laughter, light and dark humour, quiet revelations, hands held and a sense of connectedness that is rare. One of the women did a skydive a while ago, and in her pockets were notes we wrote, memories and wishes for ourselves and our loved and/or lost ones. She launched herself, and us, in to the air, a lasting memory of bravery, independence and the power of action and words when shared.
We’d like to use this blog to thank these women, who have possibly brought more to us than we have to them. Their work and our memory of them will stay with us for a very long time.
Sarah Cole and Annis Joslin