Lady Kitt 2020-21
ACE funded R&D project (2020-21)
leading to AHRC funded commission (2021-22)
exploring potential roles of collaborative creativity to affect lively, embedded, liveable change in organisational development
The enSHRINE project is led by artist and researcher Lady Kitt in collaboration with composer & producer Sarah Li, painter & gender equality activist Sofia Barton and socially engaged artist & architect Dan Russell.
The project sets out to explore and share effective creative techniques for organisations developing policy, whilst working in consultation with a cross section of their staff / audiences/ constituents. enSHRINE aims to test methodologies which can be used by organisations to develop / disrupt / queer / (re)craft, grow and change their own organisational practices, focussing on access, care and environmental responsibility.
Kitt has a social art / community / participatory arts background. Through their projects Kitt uses collaborative art making as a way of building cohesion, understandings, enthusiasms and agency within groups. Often running craft workshops where participants make objects together, whilst discussing complex challenges in their communities 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 creativity in developing organisational structures and systems to affect positive change and contribute to social and climate justice work. In 2020 Kitt was successful in applying for research and development funding from Arts Council England (ACE) to further explore these connections. In 2021 Kitt (working in collaboration with BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead) was commissioned as part of SAFEDI (Social Art for Equality Diversity and Inclusion)* to continue this work.
“In my experience, one of the biggest challenges for organizations developing policy is the fear of getting it “wrong”. I refer to this as cultures of caution. It often leads to organizations not sharing their policy work with the people it will effect until it’s “finished”, which in turn leads to people being unaware that the organization is taking any action, feeling disengaged, or even actively let down/ ignored. The initiatives end up not being fit for purpose because those they aim to support have not been consulted or included. None of these are conducive to initiatives becoming welcomed, use-able, lively, embodied aspects of an organizations practice. Using creative methodologies, tools and approaches can support organizations/ staff /constituents build relationships from which they understand one another’s needs, priorities and capacities, developing policy and procedure that supports cultural, behavioural and structure change, based on care, access, mutual understandings and respect.”
Lady Kitt, 2021
Some resources and examples of stuff that's happened during the project so far:
Policy Change Power Objects
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. Follow this link for a Power Point which can be used in / adapted for workshop settings.
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 uses “multi-sensory learning techniques” to prompt recall of the conversations, feelings, ideas and decisions which took place whilst it was originally being made.
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 the meaning for our organisation be 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
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 to new lived and legal models of consent.
Specific policy application: Safeguarding and saver / braver spaces policy
How does it work: Leading audiences through an environment co-created by groups involved in enSHRINE, the work gives insight into the process and the potential creative outcomes, whilst asking audiences to share their own thoughts.
'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).
Floral Tribute Policy Declarations
Policy "Exchange Rates"
"Haste Excludes" commissioned by disabled artist led consortium Disconsortia (Stockton).
Words presented as a floral tribute, created by building the letters from 100s of carnations, each one handmade from recycled plastic bags.
Words are chosen during socially engaged workshops with members and staff from arts groups / organisations. They aim to capture a simple phrase which communicates a potential starting point or focus for EDI / environmental 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.
For instruction how how to make floral tribute texts and how collectively creating them can support policy development / change please click : HERE
“LAST GENERATION” is floral tribute text, installation and live-artwork, responding to Barack Obama’s quote “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change, the last generation who can do something about it”.
“Project Exchange Rates” is a term used by Lady Kitt, Sarah Li and Sofia Barton in their socially engaged or participatory art work. It describes their approach to exploring, negotiating, communicating and managing responsibilities and benefits of collaborative art making. "Exchange Rates" are developed collectively with people involved in each project. They have included things like:
organising access / wellbeing support
deciding what types of behaviours are acceptable in a project and ways in which everyone involved can support one another in these
deciding how people are credited
exploring approaches to copywrite in collaboratively created artworks
agreeing the number of hours each person will dedicate to a project
finding ways for the project to benefit the local environment
"In socially engaged projects ( like this one) we talk about the “Exchange Rates” of the project. This means what people are putting into the project and what we all hope to enjoy in return. Often people involved are putting their hard work, creative skills and imagination into the project. In exchange we think everyone deserves recognition for this. That is why everyone involved is invited to be named as co-authors. "
Part of a statement from Lady Kitt and artist Sofia Barton about the exchange rates developed in their Durham University artist residency, 2020-21
In "enSHRINE" Kitt developed a "Policy Exchange Rate" template for organisations. This highlights the desire of an organization to consult on policy and develop open, care-filled, nuanced, mutually supportive relationships with members/ audiences / staff / constituents. This document is intended as an introduction to the role policy can play in supporting these symbiotic approaches. There is a link to a google doc template here:
More info about about funding and support for the project:
*SAFEDI is an AHRC fellowship led by Manchester Metropolitan University, Social Art Network, & arts charity Axis, working with social artists, marginalised communities and policy makers around the UK to rethink what inclusion in the arts means.
enSHRINE has received additional funding / support from: Axisweb through the Social ARTery Pioneer programme, a commission from disabled artist led consortium Disconsortia (Stockton), a commission from The NewBridge Project (Newcastle / Gateshead), a 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: