Co-developing ideas and research
Over a period of several months of meeting in my studio each week Gerald and I began to become interested in the idea of a taxi as a space for confessing or sharing secrets.
We had gone on a taxi journey and the life of a taxi driver seemed to embody a sense of freedom for Gerald. The psychodynamic charge of this encounter sparked further discussions, research and development of a performative event.
Take Me Home
The event, ‘Take Me Home’, took place on 17th March 2016 in the main lounge and featured Gerald as ‘Jimi’ the taxi driver.
Jimi invited residents at Mildmay, the wider local community and students from Newman Catholic College in Harlesden to get in the back of his cab and share jokes, stories and experiences broadly relating to journeys.
The rules of engagement were fluid and unpredictable, allowing for moving and poignant ‘confessions’ as well as funny stories and jokes.
The atmosphere of play and ‘Social Surrealism’ enabled participants to embody characters and explore how they felt limited or obscured by wider society. This opened up exploration of personal and public issues within a self-organised space.
Co-created reminiscence work
This gave rise for people to explore experiences in an unscripted manner. Many people shared incredibly moving and personal experiences and vocalised at the end how much they appreciated the opportunity to self-determine what was safe to say and share.
Collective trust and empathy
People with diverse mobility and medical needs and people with dementia and memory loss shared very diverse experiences and stories. In this sense the terms of engagement were formed through collective trust, empathy.
The event enabled intergenerational interaction and transvestism and gave rise to discussions that broached homophobia, racism, alienation and loneliness.
In respecting the wishes of residents the photographs only feature participants who wanted their picture to be shown. Click here for more info.
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’).