ACE funded project 2016
In September and October 2016, participatory artists, Margaret Murray and Jane Thakoordin were commissioned to work with people who define themselves as Carers. The aim of Artful Minds was to enable people to develop ideas and, working through the creative process, produce pieces to contribute to the annual Arts All Over The Place exhibition.
Working from a community development model, the participants from Stonham Carers Support Service gathered facts and figures on the role and impact on the economy of informal care and discussed ways in which their shared common experiences of caring for people whom they loved reflected the diversity of the group.
Over the eight sessions, membership of the group fluctuated, reflecting the unpredictable roles and responsibilities of carers, unable to plan too far in advance. However, members worked effectively with Jane and Margaret to tease out ideas from experiences, using newly acquired skills as well as longstanding skills and knowledge that maybe had not been utilized for many years. (One member commented that "I have not picked up a needle and thread for over 40 years until today.")
The work produced reflects the narratives of the sessions. The text pieces are short insights into the multi-layered and complex interplay of relationships with people who both love and care for people. We talked about the pressures of the role, the frustration with the on going battle to get the resources in place to support both carers and loved one. We talked openly and honestly about how love for the person can be replaced with anger, exhaustion and often depression, worried and fearful for the future. But it was also the case that we talked with great affection and love for our family members, the joy that a child with autism can bring into others' lives, the pleasure and pride in seeing an adult daughter thrive in paid employment whilst living with a mental health diagnosis.