Lady Kitt 2020-21
ACE funded R&D project
Exploring collaborative craft as a catalyst for organisational policy change
enSHRINE is a 2020-21 Arts Council England funded research project led by artist Lady Kitt.
It sets out to explore creative techniques for organisations to use when developing policy, particularly whilst working in consultation with a cross section of their work forces/ audiences/ constituents/ service users.
Kitt has a social art / community / participatory arts background. Through their projects Kitt uses collaborative art making as a way of building cohesion and understanding within groups. Often running craft workshops where participants make objects together, whilst discussing complex challenges in their work or lives. Over the course of several years Kitt began to find an unexpected consequence of working in this way: often groups where making changes in organizational policy and procedure based on the conversations they had whilst crafting.
This prompted Kitt to consider more deeply the potential for collaborative crafting in developing organisational structures and systems. In 2020 Kitt was successful in applying for research and development funding from Arts Council England (ACE) to further explore these connections.
The project has received additional funding / support from: Axisweb through the Social ARTery Pioneer programme, a commission from disabled artist led consortium Disconsortia (Stockton), commission from the Gender Research Group & Newcastle University, and Ampersand Inventions at Orbis (Newcastle).
The project has been kindly supported through mentoring by: Katie Hickman (Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead), Gareth Bell-Jones (Flat Time House, London), Emma Beverley (Leeds 2023), Culture Vulture (Gateshead), Dr Lucy Wright (Axisweb) and Dr Alex Lockwood (Sunderland University)
It has been developed in partnership with producer Sarah Li, artist Sofia Barton and members of community arts group DGA (Newcastle). Below is an introduction to some techniques & ideas developed and explored during the project:
Policy Change Power Object
What: “Power Object” is phrase used by campaigner and craftivist Sarah Corbett. It describes a hand-made object which reminds the maker of the power they have to create and to change things around them, both physically and conceptually. In the enSHRINE Project these objects were made out of policy documents.
Why: Making these objects can form a “backdrop” to conversation about policy change (by using current organisational policy documents which need updating) or policy development/ creation (by taking policy document from other organisations as a basis)
Specific policy application: This activity is useful as a starting point for general policy discussions and can be used specifically for conversation around health and safety, safeguarding and saver / braver spaces policy
How does it work:
The act of cutting up/ re- making/ re- cycling policy documents offers a very practical opportunity to see the documents in a different way
The completed object(s) can be kept in a prominent place in the work space to remind participants of their “power” and their ability to make (objects and decisions)
The house template is designed so it can be folded and un-folded multiple times, the physical act of re making the house can prompt memories of the conversations which took place whilst the object was being originally made. Folding and unfolding the house template can be used in future workshops/ conversations as a short cut to reminding participants of their pervious conversations, feelings, ideas and decisions.
The form of a house and theme of the crafting session (House, home, freedom and safety) can be used to encourage specific discussion around what a safe/ safer/ braver space can look and feel like
The following are quotes from people who have taken part in the activity about their experiences of using policy docs for physical making:
“… (the exercise) made me, literally, review and re-view the meaning of that document”
“Slicing up the words, I got to focus. I looked at one word at a time. I found some of those words problematic. I asked “why would an organisation use this specific word? What would that mean for our organisation if we use this word?”"
“Talk about a “close reading”! An enjoyable and creative way to dissect institutional language”.
Spaces of Consent
What: A collaboratively devised, participatory, digital space. Co-created by Art Matters Now, members of community arts group DGA, artists Sofia Barton and Lady Kitt, composers Sarah and Edwin Li, researchers Dr Tina Sikka and Trixie Blue
Supported by Newcastle University, the Gender Research Group (GRG), Arts Council England project grant (as part of (en)SHRINE) and by Ampersand Inventions at Orbis
'Spaces of Consent' is part of a wider project 'Objects of Consent'— a multi-disciplinary project based on research relating to consent by Dr Tina Sikka, Trixie Blue and Lady Kitt. This project has been supported by Newcastle University and the Gender Research Group (GRG).
To access the digital space click HERE
Why: To offer collaborative opportunities, to make abstract ideas around consent (in terms of data, medical care and sex), tangible. Through this, to gather information relating new lived and legal models of consent.
Specific policy application: Safeguarding and saver / braver spaces policy
How does it work: By leading participants through an environment co-created by groups activity involved in policy development through collaborative creativity, the work gives insight into the process and the potential creative outcomes, whilst asking participants to share their own thoughts.
Floral Tribute Policy Declarations
The words "Haste Excludes" presented as a floral tribute, created by building the letters from 100s of carnations, each one handmade from recycled plastic bags.
These words were chosen during socially engaged workshops with members and staff from various arts groups / organisations in the North East. They aim to capture a simple phrase which communicates a potential starting point / focus for EDI policy creation.
The methodology of painstakingly hand making the work offers time to deeply consider the implications of the phrase on an organisation / group and collectively create a tribute to/ creative declaration of this principle.