At Mildmay Park Care Home, and in preparation for a themed Ladder to the Moon theatre event, Gerald and I created props relating to 1920’s American gangster culture.
Ahead of the theatre event, we transformed Gerald’s wheelchair into a getaway car. On the day of the event we held up the care home lounge in a spontaneous performance.
A wheelchair is an object that can symbolise a loss of independence, identity displacement and physical and psychological isolation.
The social model of disability reveals how limited our cultural conceptions of mobility diversity are. Gerald and I transformed his wheelchair into a vehicle that enabled narrative play.
By using humour, exploring fictional narratives and by embodying a character, both of us were equal agents in the creative process and outcome. This gave us momentum for subsequent collaborations.
Mildmay Park Care Home
From August 2015 to April 2016 I had a studio in Mildmay Park extra care home, Islington, London (through Cubitt Gallery and Notting Hill Housing Trust).
Mildmay Park Care Home
Over the course of the year I got to know all of the residents through sharing time in the studio, in their homes and or on trips and events. I worked on a regular basis with several residents and I developed a strong collaborative connection to one resident named Gerald.
Collaborating with Gerald
Gerald and I met in September 2015. Mildmay Park was his first home since his stroke 12 months earlier.
Gerald’s experiences of a decade of homelessness and subsequent residence at an extra care home became a strong area for creative collaborative exploration.
The co-creative process and the work
Developing co-creative processes with Gerald that hinged on high levels of care, parity and having fun offered us a way to explore the subject of institutional care with respect and ethical, creative and critical insight.
The mutual trust we built enabled us to co-create work in a way that helped us each of us develop new narrative and creative perspectives on our very different, but resonant experiences of restriction, isolation and freedom in London.
Collaborating with Gerald each week inspired regular social surrealism (‘A Day Without Laughter is Wasted’) a performative event (‘Take Me Home’) and a film (‘Outsiders’).