Tag Archives: Arnolfini

Culmination – a Mayfest journey from audience to stage and how to fall off a precipice

‘you have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know, and you are the person who’ll decide where to go’ – Dr Suess.  

If things don't change flyer Mayfest amended.JPEG

Two years ago I experienced ‘Mayfest’ Bristol’s annual festival of contemporary performance for the first time. I’ve previously written about my experience of the participatory theatrical intervention called ‘Fortnight’ brought to Bristol by Proto-type Theatre which prompted me to think about both my life and the city of Bristol in a different way. As a result I set up this blog and continued my journey after the two-week ‘intervention’ was over.  At the time I was at a bit of a crossroads. I felt I had attained quite a lot over the years career wise but I still felt unsatisfied. Like there was something else I should be doing. Something more meaningful than I was currently doing. I felt like there was a hole somewhere. I hole that I liked to fill with food, mostly.  I felt disconnected from my local community, disenchanted with my job and was left wondering what my contribution to the world but also to myself, actually was.

To begin with I thought that at 33 I was too old to ever seriously consider being an artist. I figured it would be impossible to develop knowledge and experience without returning to formal and expensive study. I had read about the cuts to the arts and in the context of a declining economy I worried about the financially reality of making changes to the career path I had been treading for so long.  Few people I knew valued the arts themselves, at best tolerating my tales of the things I had seen, thought about or experienced. I also wanted to understand how something so subjective as performance/art (which could be as academic intangible or impenetrable as it could be accessible) could make an impact on communities and individuals and what difference this could make. Why did I feel, inside, it was so important? I doubted my own convictions in my ideas and ideals. I doubted if it was just too late to stop everything and start again.

These were the barriers to change that I had decided on.

However it seems overall the ‘why you should’ argument outweighed the ‘why you shouldn’t. I did my best to resist the little thought seeds that had been planted. The ones that were growing into ideas about what sort if things I could write about, what sort of theatre I could make, what could I do with the photos I take, what sort of community I really lived in, how I could contribute to that community, how could I be healthier and happier, but most importantly how I could I live my life and career in line with my true values and do something that I was passionate about?

I realised the barriers were not all as I presumed. So, just in case you do have a passing interest or fleeting thought…. here is (on a very broad brush basis) – is what I have discovered so far:

Overcoming barriers, seeking opportunities and building communities.

I was pretty convinced that my age would be prevent me from changing fields or finding opportunities in an area I had little experience in. Its probably more common to access to opportunities if you are under 25, however many artists, theatres, and community groups are Opening Doors and working on a range of projects many of which encourage participation from anyone. Over the past two years I’ve been involved with both community and ‘professional’ projects, which are also designed to be accessible to anyone who wants to be involved, with some specifically targeted at non-professionals. No experience necessary. Likewise I’d convinced myself that I would need to return to formal study but this again wasn’t the case. Whilst most performance graduates I have spoken to enjoyed their degrees and built valuable networks, many have also told me that in most cases their courses did not prepare them for their launch into the ‘real world’ of theatre or art and that in most cases you just have to start from where you are with the life experiences that you already have. Bristol offers a wealth of arts opportunities from traditional choral groups, to circus, to African drumming and a wide variety of places to do it in. I’ve been a clown at Windmill Hill City Farm, Bristol Folk House, and Co -Exist, performed at The Trinity Centre and documented at the Station Arts Space.  I’ve seen work at most of the key theatres and arts venues across Bristol including Bristol Old Vic, The Tobacco Factory and the Arnolfini, however often the most memorable and perspective changing experiences are those that are conducted outside of the theatre or gallery. Some of the most special happenings and performances  around the city include those at Parlour Showrooms, St Johns Crypt, St Paul’s Crypt, Bristol Bierkeller, The Milk Bar and a captivating old Victorian public toilet. I’ve run around on several occasions, broken out of jail at the college project, been chased by hounds  around Old Market and fought to catch up with small people hanging precariously off of bus shelters and window ledges or wedged behind bins.

I’ve done my best to SAY YES to new experiences. It’s hard to pinpoint within this seemingly holistic city approach to arts and performance when the light switched on, or each time I saw things from a different perspective. Sometimes its not an overnight change but often a more subtle accumulation of experiences over a period of time.

Once I started to explore my local surroundings, rather than feeling alienated by my own starting point, I was actually overwhelmed with the possibilities. Whilst in the first instance opening a door, picking up a pen, walking on a stage, dancing to a beat, finding your voice or trying a musical instrument can seem daunting, there is always someone else around to share the experience, give advice or laugh at your comedy routine. The advantage of one of my preferred pursuits CLOWN – is that you can find joy in doing things badly, messing up and being real so as long as you are truthful in your work it will always be interesting and gain a response.  It’s a different philosophy but very enabling if you can learn to step outside yourself and start where you are. This also means that anyone can be a clown as you already have everything you need to begin your journey.

A key thing that has come from my experiences and exploring’s so far is the impact that the arts can have in building and strengthening communities and benefiting individuals.  This has been revealed in every group, performance or project I have been involved with.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a project working with older people, children, or your average office worker, it may be work which explores self identity, biography, community, encourage health and fitness, explore life, death, politics or religion, either way – I believe the arts play a fundamental role in creating meaning, connection and in sustaining communities.  For the economists among you, stand by for my highly sophisticated and complex equation: People who are supported or connected to their communities through activities which create a sense of meaning and identity, ritual, connection, a sense of a ‘bigger’ picture, which celebrate and recognise life, death, equality, and the natural world – will – in most cases, ultimately cost less to social support systems as they progress through life than those who do not have such opportunities. Rather than thinking about the cost of arts funding and grants, how about thinking about the savings that can be made elsewhere and the benefits to society overall?

You can’t stop the passion

Cuts to arts funding and economic recession is the reality in which the arts operates today. There is always a wealth of debate around this and many philosophical and pragmatic discussions to be had about the constraints and opportunities of the current economic climate.  I started my journey modestly, without expectations and my perspective as a ‘newbie’ is likely to differ to those who have been plugging faithfully away for years, living with a good measure of uncertainity  in dedication to the work they love. At this stage I do know this – that Bristol is a unique place where, in spite of difficult funding circumstances, the dialogue, passion, creativity and impetus for social change, critique, protest and celebration will always exist. On a personal note, if your measure of success is to ‘love what you do’ this often enables other aspects of your life to work in different ways to how you may first expect. Solutions can be found, resources can be shared, communities will open up, problems will be solved.

Changing direction and starting again

There have been many changes for me since Mayfest 2011 including lots of theatre-going as well as performing and training, and two years later I am preparing for a showing of my first solo piece ‘If thing’s don’t change’ as part of  ‘Mayfest at the Wardrobe’  new writing collaboration. Whilst I don’t know where the work is heading, and I still feel like there is a long journey ahead, it’s an exciting opportunity to be given the chance to perform work that I’ve written myself as part of the festival I participated in as an audience member two years ago.  Whilst to some it seemed like a risky decision to change direction, I realised I have nothing to lose, and when looking around at the world and seeing it in a different way – much to appreciate.

Sometimes ‘modern’ or ‘avant garde’ art and performance is hard to explain. Sometimes it will have no obvious story or make any immediate sense. It will often challenge you to think in a different way explore themes which you may not be comfortable with or couldn’t see before, beneath it all I’ve learnt that if you look hard enough to see it, there is a story and it’s yours.

The show

The show is biographical, and started out as a volunteer community storytelling piece developed with the support of Windmill Hill City Farm. Through drawing on my own memories of my grandmother, growing up and growing older I first developed the original story for performance at two community farm events. I was also influenced by the older people I had met who talked to me about their lives and the process of ageing, something which none of us really can fully appreciate until we experience it ourselves. It was this and losing my nan last year which prompted me to develop the work which as well as being personal to me, I felt could also resonate with many people.   Ultimately it aims to draw attention to the fragility and possibility of life and the extraordinariness of the seemingly everyday experience, which we can so easily take for granted in an often busy, frequently consumerist and sometimes spiritless world.

I hope you can come to see it.

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‘If thing’s don’t change’ is being performed as part of a double bill with Chris Dugrenier’s   ‘Wealth’s last caprice’ a sensitive and funny reflection on what we value. Showing at the Wardrobe Theatre on Thursday May 23rd 6pm/£5 email tickets@thewardrobetheatre.com to reserve your seats.

The Wardrobe Theatre is ‘a place where anything can happen. Where fresh nutritious performance is premier, where arts cuts don’t stop the passion, and where the people of Bristol can experience the thrill of live performance’ and is located above The White Bear Pub, St Michael’s Hill, Bristol. You’ll have a nice time.

Writing and….. the object @The Arnolfini

Back in October I attended my second course at  the Arnolfini – Writing and…The Object –described as

 ‘A cross-artform weekend writing course which investigates the relationship between text, physical objects and their collection and display. Examining through practical writing projects how objects can generate and structure writing, the ways in which text can change how we look at objects, but also how language itself can be displayed as object’.

The course was designed to engage with the exhibit ‘Museum Show ‘and was run by Jerome Fletcher, Associate Professor of Performance Writing at University College Falmouth. The sessions ran for two days and combined some theory around the idea of ‘the object’ with a piece of solo performance, the production of some visual/textual art using our own objects and the objects of others as a basis. In addition we could examine and experience the exhibits and draw from them also.

My expectations:

As ever I was a little apprehensive about taking part. Given my lack of background in both arts theory and practice I was supremely self conscious but determined to try to get to grips with things. However, as the course unfolded despite the weighty academic and artistic experience the other participants had – being a cross art form course it seemed that most people were out a little of their comfort zone at some point or the other.  The more I learn about the arts, the more is seems that regardless of education or experience you ‘just do it’ so I decided that I’d just have to get in there and suck it up. In hindsight whilst I  produced some pretty rubbish stuff, it did move my thinking on and I made a significant discovery about myself so I think overall it was worth the discomfort.

I signed up specifically as I wanted to understand how to devise or create work and having taken part in some taster courses in performance had an idea that the role of ‘the object’ in this could be significant. Also the focus on exhibition and references to material culture and museums fitted in with some of the cultural theory around heritage and identity that I had studied and enjoyed as an undergrad. In addition as an ethnographer the role of ‘the object’ can be symbolic and significant when trying to understand culture/behaviour and I wanted to reengage with this, also in a kind of chicken or egg way I guess I was also trying to understand if the relationship between writing and the object and what came first – or how one could relate to the other.

Theory

The day started with an overview of various disciplinary theory surrounding ‘the object’ which was extensive and discussions around what an object was (which we never really managed to define) we debated how and where writing could or should meet other art forms and how it could be ‘read’, how text could transform and object in terms of the meaning it conveyed. We also discussed the difference between an ‘object’ and a ‘thing’.  I struggled a bit here used to clearer specific definitions but persevered. What did come out of it was the significance of values (or how something is valued – culturally/societally) in these two definitions and the symbolism/social construction of language that can frame and artwork and influence our appreciation/understanding/consumption of this as well.

The role of the relic was something that I found really interesting, how these things are valued and exhibited and how a sense of identity conveyed can be ideological thinking back perhaps to colonial collections, or also perhaps in a contemporary sense with regards to religion and ritual/performance. It led to me to question and think about presentation of history – who’s past is demonstrated, how, who and when? Who may be disinherited through this representation of culture or history? What form could this representation take? What is the narrative between objects and how can audiences ‘write back’ and respond to what they see? Who is the ‘expert’ and how as individuals do we use such interpretations to mediate our own understanding of self, landscape, the city and society as well as our understanding of ‘the other’.

Practical exercises

The focus of the course was on practical exercises, the first day being a piece of solo performance using something from the exhibition as basis for the ‘writing’ of the performance. I ended up giving a kind of ‘performance lecture’ falling back on my knowledge of the material production of culture and exhibiting a bottle of Pepsi  as relic but 200 years in the future –  and questioning how our the presentation of history relates to the production of knowledge – it was all a bit dystopian.   I had seen only one piece of live or performance art previously to this and through their contributions my coursemates demonstrated a mindboggling range of possibilities that I had never considered could be ‘a performance’. They ranged from cutting or destroying and remaking things, using sounds and reading, repeating certain aspects of the exhibits. I was really nervous about doing a solo performance as it had been a while since I’d done any and it was only ensemble work that I had at clown school at that point, but I think it went okay in the end.

The performance that stood out in my mind the most was one that took us  out of the room/gallery and to a window to watch the view and a whisper, two whispers in fact were released around the group which we had to pass on to each other. I think this appealed to me as it took the focus away from the gallery or the internal space to the world outside, that the performance was participatory in terms of its audience allowing us or requiring us to connect with each other. It was subtle yet moving.  You could appreciate nature, I also liked the fact that although we were instructed to work individually two people had decided to work together or cooperate in spite of this. I found this quite inspiring and a good way to look at things.

The second practical was focussed toward arranging the objects of choice that we asked to bring in various ways. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to create but I brought the following:

Yellow duck – This symbolises the beginnings of my own artistic journey (it’s not THE little yellow duck I love but a substitute) also its a representation of the inner child which I felt many people could relate to easily (I’d already decided I wanted whatever I made to relate to childhood in some way).

Umbrella – aesthetically I love them and it was brightly coloured. They keep off the rain 😉

Leaf – sublimity of nature, (and a need to care for nature)

Tarot cards – In terms of theatre pieces I wanted to try and develop something relating to my metaphysical upbringing and the influence that tarot has had on me and my life. I’d been trying to understand this aspect of myself, and given that many people today actively seek out and practice clairvoyance and tarot, I thought this would be a good fodder for a theatre piece.

Peacock feather – aesthetically I love peacocks. The feather was given as an object to me from a close friend and was to represent the gift of creativity. Peacocks are said to be symbolic in terms of rebirth, spirituality and awakening. I like them because most people assume them to be beautiful and delicate by their appearance but actually they are squawky, grumpy, feisty little buggers.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – again this is a story of awakening, particularly feminine awakening, its a popular book and the imagery and story are reproduced regularly around us, which again was something I thought people could relate to easily. I realised after that this book is more than that as I’ve had it since school, in fact It says property of my old school library on it. Since then I realised it must be quite significant to me and  I thought that once I’d finished my PhD I would send it back there with a donation to my old school so perhaps they can buy some new copies. Figured I’d be the first person to attain a PhD but I could be wrong. I’d like to thank them in some way (and apologise for nicking the library stock).

We first had to make our own display using written text and two of our objects, I used text from the Lewis Carroll book (quotes relating to identity), the umbrella as a kind of tent almost (the light looked quite good through it) and the duck to represent childhood. Fair to say it was a bit out of place with all the other things, and was a bit odd really (had no idea what I was doing)  but it was well received by some of the group. I also noticed that those of high status may be less comfortable when asked to make themselves smaller in order to experience the art (the display was on a little low table so you would have to bend down and under the umbrella to read the text – like being in a tent almost). This was interesting to me. It made me question this physical movement and if and how it could be used as part of the exhibit/performance experience and what implications this may have.

Our second task was to use the objects of others in an arrangement – this I was not prepared for, and I panicked a bit at this. I struggled and struggled – the objects I was given were quite random, (a piece of astro turf, a didgeridoo, an old canvas, a foreign coin) and I was an object short. All I could think, was that these were not my objects.. this was not my object.. none of these were my objects..so I wrote that. I layed them out in an archaeology arrangement and with a gap at the end emphasising that the final object was unwritten or unknown. I was mortified. It wasn’t art, I felt it wasn’t really anything. I did want to go home at that point when I saw some of the beautiful things other people had made.

It was only when we fed back to our partners and we understood the nature or the story of the objects it began to make more sense. The objects of my colleague were in fact not her objects – well at least they had all belonged to ex boyfriends…. they were relics of her past , of her relationships and she felt she had yet to find her own object/ive and was single and trying to find herself at this time. I asked why she was holding on to them. She said she wasn’t sure and that maybe she should let them go.

I felt then that something had been achieved. I don’t know if it counts as art. but it was definitely  something.

This ‘a-ha’ moment was significant to me too. My work/ideas for my show were no closer to the stage…. but I felt I had started to understand something fundamental about the practice of tarot… so maybe in fact it was?  For a moment take away the ‘supernatural’ element of the tarot instead look at it simply as art. As characters in a book, representing certain people, stages of life, happenings which require two people, (the reader and sitter) to reflect on personal questions and make meaning via the images.  Its not a dissimilar process. In a therapy setting, images, photos etc are often used for similar purposes indeed even in some types of qualitative research methods to understand values and perceptions and prompt discussion of personal experiences.

So I had a little realisation moment followed by an intense feeling of self-consciousness as I realised that other people experienced in this kind of ‘decoding’  could read anything that I produce perhaps even before I knew of its significance to me as creator. I guess its all subjective to an extent – but there was definitely something in this I felt.  My partners representation of my objects was not as clear… she said she struggled with them as to her they seemed quite random.. but she did say she felt there was contradiction contained within the objects and no clear way of setting out the relationship between them.. that seemed pretty accurate at the time.

Conclusions

All in all it was a good weekend even if it was uncomfortable in places. I had a good few ‘a-ha’ moments – I enjoyed the practical work and liked reengaging with the theory. On reflection it felt a lot more academic both in process and environment than some of the other courses I had been on and given the academic background of almost everyone there it would be easy to be really cerebral about it all. I decided that I want to try and avoid this. I realised that maybe, like the window/whisper exercise.. when writing performance the best thing to do is come out of the traditional gallery environment and look out on the world – encourage people to awaken, connect and experience, and I felt this should go beyond and reach more than those experienced in the arts. I realise that my own performance offering on the day could be described as a little self indulgent, (I ended up consuming the product I was exhibiting) and I accept this… to be honest I just didn’t have any idea of the performance possibilities that are out there..  .. but then that’s what workshops, performance and other people are for..

lessons learnt.

The rest is silence – GetInTheBackOfTheVan – Arnolfini

So. My undisputable bravery and ongoing investigation into the delights of live art continued as I set off on Saturday 11th June and made my way to the Arnolfini for my 1st perhaps 2nd? live art experience. I was more or less completely new to this kind of performance . Having heard numerous stories during Mayfest of participatory shows where the audience ‘members’ were pushed around in a wheelchair whilst blindfolded stopping only while a man rubbed his beard on their face, if I am honest, my first thought was:

Right, If  I need to leave/escape – shouldn’t I be sitting near the door?

Also I am so new to this art stuff I’m always slightly worried I am just not going to get ‘it’. So of course I was kind of nervous. However the Arnolfini’s 50th Anniversary theme, ‘the apparatus of culture’ was something I felt that perhaps I could ‘get’ more easily than something more obscure.

The were three parts to the performance. The first was the final half an hour of a 3 hour durational piece which had been running since the early afternoon, as the performers danced continually to the top 40 singles chart. Alternating the Macarena and Saturday night dance routines, only stopping when the DJ spoke or during an advert break, they would then drink one of several varieties of coca cola. We could move around during this performance if we wished.

The second and third elements were a piece called ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Pearl and Dean’ which I *think* explored the ideas around how (and this I apologise is a very basic, untheatrical lay-webber terms)

How technological (media) advances are subverting our understanding of time and space, and the peice was drawing attention to the (in) authenticity of broadcasting/communication/popular entertainment, consumption and the society of the (non) spectacle. How talking incessantly isn’t necessarily communication. How silence can shout a 1000 words.

Or at least that’s what I got out of it.

I’m sure there is a lot more that could be pulled out, but I need to practise my interpretation skills a bit (tres frustrating)

It was quite exciting for me in the final pieces as I had often wondered if performances could evoke the senses in different ways. I wasn’t sure of the symbolism or metaphor but on a physical level being in darkness and surrounded by talcum powder was a new art experience and a strong anchor in terms of how I recalled the work in my mind…and I was happy to report I didn’t want to run away once.

And nobody rubbed their beard on me.

Bonus.

For me the most powerful part was the experience was that first half an hour watching the end of the durational piece. Now I am not sure if this was because it took me half an hour to absorb it, and half an hour for my head to fill with a number of responses, or whether I just got this piece more easily than the others. Perhaps I interpreted more, because I wasn’t rushing to try and interpret? I don’t know, but it was pretty special in there, and it did make me think: the repetition of the dance routines, the predictable formula of the music, the fact that the piece continued to be played out whether we were engaged directly or not, was for me quite a strong comment on the ‘apparatus of culture’ I also noted that by the end (not sure if it was intentional or not) that both performers had somehow synchronised which variants of coke they picked up to drink.. I wasn’t sure if this was deliberate but it made think how much of our consumer behaviour is learnt and imitated either consciously or subconsciously. I did leave the gallery thinking about the apparatus of culture in particular the media and it also triggered a memory of something I made myself years ago for an old uni module (seen below)

There was a question and discussion session at the end and now, I am kicking myself I didn’t stay – (was a bit worried that I may not understand it so bolted). On the whole I was really reassured that all the pieces seemed so accessible and the audience seemed to have a positive response (in fact one audience member rolled around on the floor at one point!- a small one 😉 It was great that it seemed quite a cross section of individuals/families etc. and it’s given me confidence to try out and watch more work of this kind. It was a memorable, and thought provoking experience which certainly made me question and think about cultural production and consumption. Looking forward to more from GetInTheBackOfTheVan soon.

Writing on the body at the Arnolfini

In January I bravely signed up for ’Writing on the Body’ . Led by Dr Barbara Bridger from Dartington College of Arts, a two day workshop at the Arnolfini. I’m from a social science/studies background, and I was curious to understand what the arts could offer in terms of cultural theory and interpretation of this notion of ‘the body’. I’d previously studied as part of my first degree the sociology of the body and I was interested in thinking about ageing bodies is in relation to my research. I was hopeful that the course would perhaps stimulate my thinking in a different way. So. Being brave. I wandered quite naively into the room ever the optimist.

There was some background theory – some basic Derrida which was great and a reminder of how despite how disciplinary boundaries may be defined – fundamentally the thoughts and thinking of key theorists along with political, social and cultural changes often permeate the teachings of both the social sciences and the humanities. Although there may be some way to go before philosophy dribbles into the teachings of pure science though? Or maybe not?

It was a good workshop. Scary but good. I was introduced to a range of textual practises and ways of writing for the body. To be fair I hadn’t anticipated the amount of practical work we were expected to do. This element was totally new to me.  Not being an artist or at least not being anything like one for a number of years I was totally unprepared for the level of self exposure (maybe not the right word – maybe self expression) that the practical element expected. Suggested practical tasks were things such as: photographing your body and using post it notes to tell a story of you (such as scarred bodies), writing the story of a body part on a piece of paper and burning it, or making an artwork using your own bodily fluids (the tutor re-laid a story of one of her former students cutting herself during a performance. We were not specifically encouraged to do this but I got the distinct impression that the tutor sort of maybe felt that the student concerned was within her rights to do so.  Interestingly I had also heard a rumour through drama students at my current university that a similar thing had occurred during a performance for an avant-garde module, and the result being the performance was stopped.   This raised an interesting ethical dilemma for me, I have not seen enough theatre to comment on any specific performance but in terms of pedagogy – where do you draw the line?

The body is a form of expression not just in performance but in everyday life – through the embodiment of physical actions with signifying meanings, through conscious self expression or display (tattoos, hair dye, piercings, cosmetic surgery etc) and the ongoing societal struggle and scientific quest to halt or delay the ageing process. Bodies are places of struggle, they are canvases and are often key signifiers to others of our place in society – disabled bodies for instance. What is *normal* v’s what is *different*  what is our attitude to live bodies vs dead bodies? Where does the person end and the body begin? What is viewed as more preferable old body or a young body? Why?

We also go the opportunity to look around the exhibition on the same theme which had some breathtaking exhibits, which certainly made you think about the body in a different way. It was a great experience for me to go round in a group and discuss responses to the pieces as I I’ve often no idea really (or felt a little bit of a luddite) sometimes around visual modern art. I’m getting there (I seem to be better with sculpture than paintings in this respect).

What I did notice sadly though was the absence of ageing related exhibits, examples and theory in both the literature, the workshop and the exhibition/examples we were shown.   So whilst this issue of the body appears to be alive and well in sociology and the arts, the issue of ageing has yet to be explored or represented thoroughly perhaps in both disciplines.. and ageing and transport? Nonexistent.

I’ll give it a go.

I didn’t get around to producing any practical pieces, and I was unable to attend the second day as I had a rehearsal. I was also really rather glad of this, to be honest I was terrified.  But perhaps I will revisit that list at some point. I have had a few ideas since then (mainly relating to the commodification of the body) that I could explore.

Another thing that struck me was how overwhelmingly introverted or (can I say it) navel gazing I felt it was… I guess my attitude has always been that any inner turmoil is (was) what it is, but there is always a worthier story to tell than mine. A bigger cause than any anecdote about my own suffering. Perhaps I just wasn’t angry enough?  Take Tracy Emin. She has suffered. She has produced some great art. But blimey O’Riley sometimes I just think ‘get over it’. Perhaps the subject is not her. I sort of think it is though? It seems epistemological (subject/object?) debates are central perhaps to artistic production and interpretation just as they are in qualitative research.

Similarly my in research, there are some authors who,  using ethnography, have endeavoured to reveal the nature of transport spaces through observations, but ultimately what I hear in the final write up is the voice of the researcher, not the observed. Is it not more powerful to give voices to others to enable them to tell their own stories? I don’t know enough about art or performance yet to answer these questions (both why and how) but at least for research to a greater degree as possible, the story is about them, facilitated by me. I will never be able to truly understand the meanings associated with older people’s experiences and how these experiences affect and impact on them both physically and psychologically, but I can attempt to find a way to reveal the stories of the people I meet if it is simply not possible to empower them to tell their own.