This was an interesting gig, I was asked to attend a Networking event in anonymous town *, run by the NHS, bringing together all the organisations working in this area of Anonymous town which scores highly on the index of multiple deprivation. The idea was to get everyone together to encourage joined up working and share what they’re doing, particularily in relation to health & wellbeing. My job was to bring a visual element to the event. The day was divided into short presentations, and a lot of workshops and ‘world cafe’ style sessions. For the uninitiated this is a way of getting everyone talking, participating and contributing, which breaks away from the traditional sitting & listening to speakers type event. World cafe sessions, are more informal, people divided around tables, given a topic, perhaps set a question for say ten minutes, then the next ten minutes is all about looking at solutions. There are many variations on this theme, but quickly issues and common themes become apparent working this way. My job however was to attend the event and capture this all visually while it was happening. Quite a challenge ! Normally i would gather all the information about a thing, then lock myself away for a time to mull, to digest and find a way of visually representing the subject. Here i felt an expectation on me to reflect all the delegates experiences, while it happened. I floated around all the tables, listening in, trying to draw out key themes. It became apparent quickly that each table was describing the same problems and barriers, there was some good information about the actual problems people in that area face, and how although there were many projects and organisations in the area, there was a lack of awareness about their work, a lack of networking and communication between them. The day rushed past. I settled into a corner and scribbled frantically on flip chart paper to try and have something to put on the walls by the end. There was some talk about the positive aspects of the area, a greater sense of community perhaps? The area also edges a nature reserve and stunning part of the Anonymous place, which not enough people are aware of or access. I would have liked to explore more of that as we are all too used to the horrible stories of poverty, unemployment, abuse, addiction and crime. The idea of having an artist at the event was to give people a visual summary of it’s content- which is more interesting than a dry typed report, many people are more visual learners or visually orientated in the way they take in information. I’d been asked, not only because i’m known as an artist working in illustration/ graphic areas, but also because of my work in communities and social projects. It is nice when my eclectic CV makes some sort of sense!
I found the event very interesting, it was strange to just observe and not be in there sticking my tuppence worth in. I was very glad of the opportunity to tidy up and complete my flip chart scribbles though, as I felt i hadn’t quite managed to get anything done on the day that clearly and nicely showed what i wanted. I much prefer to work digitally to tidy up my sketchy scribbly working methodology. Here is what i submitted.
* I have been asked to anonymise the art work in terms of place, as the conversations about multiple deprivation, inequality & poverty were by professionals with other professionals, and there is a fear that these drawings based on those conversations may offend the people that the professionals work with, ie the people of that part of anonymous town. I find poverty, deprivation and inequality offensive, but the people in this area lovely to work with, the last thing i would wish to do is offend any of them.