Experiencing CARE as a giver or receiver is a sensitive and challenging process. The willingness of carers to come forward and speak with us during our initial research was both brave unexpected. Having sprung from a personal experience with the care system, our first participants were also acquaintances who- through the care they gave to a loved one- shared with us their desire to have their stories heard. Also apparent was the desire of those interviewed to help improve the experiences of others who may find themselves in a similar situation.
Creating ART and NARRATIVE out of pain and hope is a sensitive, courageous and life-giving process and it is right at the heart of our project.
In bearing witness to carers' testimonies, we began to explore creative and visual ways to represent these as they are undoubtedly worthy of a wider audience.
Much has been made of carers' invaluable contribution to society in what is one of the most challenging epochs of the last 100 years, with the COVID pandemic dominating every aspect of our lives and the contributions of those we most rely on not sufficiently rewarded. Our aim is to address this by empowering carers with the tools of agency and strong identity through personal testimony and storytelling. Our very first participants have taken the lead in suggesting and offering images for representation, and in some cases, went on to produce creative artefacts of their own accord, filmed themselves in conversation, shared images and short films and created music and poetry. These artistic expressions provide the necessary defences but also a platform for renewal and change of policy in the care profession.
In truth, the work of PANDEMOCRACY is that of the people who took part. This project is simply offering them a space tell their stories, in their own words, and in their own way – something, we came on to learn, the institutions of the State and the affordances of the system denied them at many turns.
Between November 2021 and January 2022, we will be conducting a series of arts-based workshops under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair for Integration Through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow as well as portrait and film-making sessions. The project will culminate in a two-day Festival in London in May 2022.