• Art elicitation. Exploring the birth experience

      Hogan, Susan; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2016-10-27)
      In The Birth Project we are exploring women’s experience of childbirth and the transition to motherhood using the arts and then presenting the research findings in films and exhibitions. Our overarching research question wishes to explore what role arts engagement might have to play in antenatal and postnatal provision, especially where post-birth trauma is being translated into bodily symptoms. The Birth Project is also interested in investigating to what extent clinically-related birth practices are implicated in iatrogenic outcomes and post-natal distress. Furthermore, we are also concerned to investigate what is distinctive about an arts-based approach in terms of expressing narratives about birth and the transition to motherhood, so we are interested in thinking about different sorts of arts-based methods. This film is about the art elicitation group which comprised a group of mothers who had been traumatised by their birth experience. The group and was facilitated by a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC, UK) registered art therapist and used a used a thematic approach, as this was felt to offer necessary containment for the strong feelings being expressed.
    • Birth professionals make art. Using participatory arts to think about being a birthing professional

      Hogan, Susan; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2016-10-27)
      Midwifery and obstetric practices, within a stressful period of austerity for the NHS with litigation fears and pressure from the media, have an impact on the experience of all those involved: women giving birth and birthing professionals. In The Birth Project the arts are being used to interrogate this complex topic. Obstetricians, midwives, and new mothers have been given the opportunity to explore their experiences of compassion fatigue, stress, birth suffering and post-natal readjustments using the arts. These different groups have joined together in ‘mutual recovery’ events in which perspectives have been shared, primarily through elucidation of the art works produced, captured using documentary filmmaking. The raison d’etre of this project is to create dialogue between different communities of interest and experience, to use the arts to interrogate discourses, to challenge embedded assumptions, and in this process, to stimulate mutual recovery between all those who experience and are affected by birth. We situate this endeavour in the context of an emerging practice of health humanities (Crawford et al. 2014). A series of workshops with birth professionals, including professional doulas, who may have experienced vicarious trauma, whose traumatising experience is often overlooked, have used the arts to explore their experiences. This film narrates their concerns and reveals their artistic engagement.
    • The Birth Project: Using the Arts to explore birth. Interim report

      Hogan, Susan; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2016-10)
      The aim of this study was to use the arts to interrogate birth discourses, to challenge embedded assumptions, and in this process, to stimulate mutual recovery between all those who experience and are affected by birth. The research questions are: • What role might arts engagement have to play in ante-natal and post-natal care? • To what extent are hospital practices, that are iatrogenic in nature, implicated in post-natal distress? • To what extent is ‘mutual recovery’ possible through engagement with the arts, and if so, to establish what form this may take? • What, in particular, does an arts-based approach offer in exploring birth experiences and the transition to motherhood?
    • Interrogating women’s experience of ageing: reinforcing or challenging clichés?

      Hogan, Susan; University of Derby; College of Health & Social Care Research Centre (2015-07)
      The “Representing Self—Representing Ageing” initiative has been funded by the ESRC as part of the New Dynamics of Ageing cross-council research programme. It has consisted of four projects with older women using participatory arts to enable women to articulate their experiences of ageing, and to create alternative images of ageing. Methods have included the use of art elicitation, photo-diaries, film-booths, directed photography, and phototherapy.
    • Mothers make art

      Hogan, Susan; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2016-10-27)
      In The Birth Project we are exploring women’s experience of childbirth and the transition to motherhood using the arts and then presenting the research findings in films and exhibitions. Our overarching questions are concerned to explore what role arts engagement might have to play in antenatal and postnatal provision, especially where post-birth trauma is being translated into bodily symptoms. The Birth Project is also interested in exploring to what extent clinically-related birth practices are implicated in iatrogenic outcomes and post-natal distress. Furthermore, we are also concerned to investigate what is distinctive about an arts-based approach in terms of expressing narratives about the transition to motherhood. Two sets of workshops have been run to-date for The Birth Project. A participatory arts group, 'Mothers Make Art', has been facilitated by the artist Lisa Watts. Watts has a distinctive art practice called Live Art, described by Gorman as ‘an art practice that presents the living body to encourage a self-reflective exploration of subjectivity, art and knowledge production’ (2014 p.6). One aspect of this way of working is that is ‘engages with how the audience experiences the performing body’s interaction with objects and materials’ (Watts 2010 p.2). Mothers Make Art, asks questions in two ways: what are the effects of participation in workshops for the makers of the art and then what are the effects on others who experience the art that is produced as viewers. The Mothers Make Art group comprised eight women who live in a city in the north of England. They self-selected to participate in a series of twelve workshops. Some of the women were trained in the arts, some not, but all had an interest in visual arts, and an openness to learn and to make. The brief was to use a participatory framework to enable the women to explore any topics they wished with respect to the birth experience and motherhood. In Mothers Make Art structured techniques were used to enable the participants to explore the nature of meaning making and to construct and deconstruct works (physically and metaphorically). An important method employed was the use of everyday objects, (ornaments, clothing, mothering paraphernalia, toys), to help to create stories. There was also an opportunity to be meditative with everyday objects (cling-film, tin-foil, kitchen paper). Rather than making a representation or literal object referring to their birth or mothering, the women focused on the formal aesthetic qualities of the materials. This way of working explores objects with a focus on their material capabilities, rather than having a predetermined vision of where the art making might lead. This not only provided a self-reflective space, but functioned to give the women the skills and confidence to manipulate materials to be able to create their own original art piece at the end of the series. The art works were varied; one women pegged up her boys clothes from the tiny newborn garments to the larger ones representing fads and crazes. She acknowledged the preciousness of each stage with an acute awareness of the fleeting nature of the experience, a heightened awareness of temporality, with poems and a monologue. Another of the installation pieces explored the maker’s sense of stability, with a series of finely balanced and delicately poised fragile mixed-media pieces, comprising living plant bulbs, glass and plastic containers, wire and wood and other materials. Rachel, a medical consultant, spoke of valuing the time and space to make art work. She said that the work was about seeking equilibrium between the domestic, professional and personal realms of her life, as well as exploring notions of what it is to be a good mother. She invited the group to say what her piece evoked: precariousness, balance, complexity, giving the bulbs space to grow, were a few of the reactions.
    • Women’s inequality: a global problem explored in participatory arts.

      Hogan, Susan; Warren, Lorna; University of Derby,; College of Health & Social Research Centre (UNESCO, 2013-11)
      This paper discusses research-guided practice in community-based arts in health activity in Britain. This discussion is situated within an exploration of health policy and its relationship to the arts in health. It provides a summary analysis of a large body of research relevant to wellbeing and mental-health rehabilitation; it will describe how community-based arts in health activity provides the basis for a set of evidence-based actions to improve well-being. In respect to research-guided practice, this paper will argue a strong case that community-based arts in health initiatives encompass all aspects of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’; furthermore, it will indicate how community arts in health activities are also significant in aiding recovery from mental ill health. The essay moves on to explore why participatory approaches are of particular value to women. In particular, the paper looks at the position of older women, with reference to the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme in Britain. It concludes with a detailed discussion of several recent projects. A description of the research inquiry will enable the partnership structures and the ethos developed in the projects’ delivery to be elucidated and discussed in order to interrogate strategies of practice. It is hoped that this frank discussion of some of the tensions between arts-based participatory practice and arts-based participatory practice for research will be of interest. Different visual methods will be articulated. Methods have included the use of art elicitation, photo-diaries, film-booths, directed photography, and re-enactment phototherapy within an overarching participatory framework. It is recognised that women are a highly diversified group with crosscutting allegiances, some of which have been acknowledged in this project.
    • Working across disciplines: Using visual methods in participatory frameworks

      Hogan, Susan; University of Derby (Berghahn Books, 2017-03)