“ I found the sessions very moving and honest. Kitt and Dan are amazing emotional labourers, a) being able to hold space of care and b) offering practical solutions and tools for the future. I can’t think of two more thoughtful and care centred artists… I’m really glad I booked the social practice surgeries- making art can be incredibly lonely for artists even when they’re doing it with people. This (surgery) brought home the need for peer to peer sessions as a much needed resource.”
Taneesha Ahmed Community and Partnerships producer, LEEDS 2023, 2022
" I absolutely love the way it (the Social Practice Surgery toolkit) is written - clear, easy to read, friendly and with all the fine points considered without it being arduous to read."
Natalie Hughes, Assistant Producer, Heart of Glass, 2020
Social Practice Surgery
a mutual support and research project for, and by, people who make art with people
Facilitated by Dan Russell and Lady Kitt
"Beautifully facilitated and absolutely necessary"
Social Practice Surgery participant, NECP Case for Culture Annual Forum, 2018
"This will give me a wonderful framework and reference source to work with."
Ann, Social Practice Surgery
Workshop, Durham University, 2021
Social Practice Surgery is a mutual support project for socially engaged art curators / organisers / practitioners / makers /community artists / participatory artists / organisations / facilitators / producers (this is not an exhaustive list).
Social Practice Surgery is a series of continually developing, live(ly) resources created for and by social art practitioners to support each other in a variety of circumstances.
The project is facilitated by artists Dan Russell and Lady Kitt. It’s the result of openness and generosity by many artists and organisations, who have shared their stories, ideas, experiences and resources with each other and us over the last 4 years.
Kitt and Dan offer sessions for general social art support as well as more taylored mentoring which can focus on learning from current research projects enSHRINE (social art and organisational development) and "Framing Social Practice in Collections" (collecting, care for and contextualising collaboratively made / socially engaged works, projects and approaches).
You can find some resources we've created and gathered during the project so far in our Social Practice 1st Aid Kit: HERE
The project aims to offer opportunities for people involved in social art to get together and share the complexities and joys of our work. “Surgeries”, face to face and digital events, are facilitated by Dan and Kitt. They can take a variety of forms including workshops, interviews, informal chats, performance lectures, collaborative making sessions, training and mentoring. For us, the value of the project in the “us-ness” of it: the collaborative experience and knowledge of everyone at each individual surgery, our collective capacity to empathise, elicit, support, respond, and create.
Kitt and Dan collaborate on this and related projects. We are interested in lots of stuff, but particularly:
Live(ly)ness in research
Mutual support in the field of contemporary social practice
Social-ness in institutions
Making, thinking and reflecting activity about where the intimacy and empathy is in digital, virtual and socially-distanced methodologies
Please see Glossary below for more info
Social Practice Surgeries, face to face and digital events, facilitated by Dan and Kitt can be booked by contacting us: HERE
Any upcoming events will be posted on this page:
Social Practice Surgery has been developed through and supported by: an Axisweb R&D Award, year-long (2018-19) residency with Orbis and Ampersand Inventions (Newcastle) and with funding / commissions from North East Cultural Partnership, The New Bridge Project, East Street Arts, and Heart of Glass as part of Home Work (with support from Cultural Hubs – St Helens Arts in Libraries, the Bluecoat, Knowsley Council, Rule of Threes, Sefton Council, Human Library, The Atkinson, Halton Borough Council and Culture Liverpool).
"I believe that socially engaged work is some of the most thoughtful, useful and challenging art being produced now. I think practitioners are a powerful cultural resource& I’m extremely committed to collaboratively creating methods for supporting development and resilience of our practice.
In my experience, socially engaged work is messy- physically, conceptually, socially, emotionally, joyfully messy. And, the mess is needed. It’s where the most fun, interesting, useful stuff happens; where people can use creativity to be vulnerable, to ask questions, to solve problems, to understand our own culture, to the create change. The mess is also exhausting, draining, confusing. Tidying up, making sense of, organising, recording this mess and its’ effects is a huge physical and emotional labour. A labour that mostly falls to the practitioner and is rarely given many (if any) resources. This creates a situation where socially engaged artists often suffer from what I call “Mess Fatigue” (MessF); Tiredness, sometimes sadness, often frustration, nearly always a seemingly over whelming amount of physical organising and emotional processing which a socially engaged project can generate.
"The Social Practice Surgery" project will offer opportunities to listen to the experiences of others and together to begin considering how practitioners can tackle the big "MessF" also what we can ask of commissioners, funders, producers, colleagues, participants to ensure that everyone involved in a project helps with the “tidying up”.”
Lady Kitt, 2018
*Social Practice Surgery Glossary:
For us, “creative intimacies” are human connections formed through and for creativity, and they exist on a scale.
One end are "civic creative intimacies" (ideological and structural togetherness that happens because of and through collaborative creative and social action). At the other end are “personal creative intimacies” (emotional and physical connections that happen because of and through collaborative creative and personal action).
An example of "civic creative intimacies" could be a community group who use crafting as a connecting activity which offers time and space to think about and build their shared ethos. Maybe they then use the togetherness they’ve created to lobby for political change or improve their local environment. Typically, members of the group probably only (or largely) interact through the group’s activities.
An example of “personal creative intimacies” could be a parent and child who play music together as a way of sharing time and ideas about /enthusiasms for, the world. Maybe this closeness helps them to develop, discover and appreciate mutual understandings, skills and interests- part of them growing a shared family culture. They probably interact often (maybe constantly) through a multitude of creative, practical and personal activities.
Collectively doing the thing(s) together.
Collaborative experience and knowledge. The collective capacity to empathise, elicit, support, respond, and create.
Happening in real time- living it, doing it, being it. Now. Together.
living/ doing/ being connections, dialogues, communities, sharing and togetherness
“Mess Fatigue” (MessF):
Phrase coined by Kitt in 2017 describing the tiredness, sometimes sadness, often frustration, nearly always a seemingly overwhelming amount of physical organising and emotional processing which a socially engaged project can generate