"Thank you to the facilitators for being vulnerable and sharing their own failures. I needed this, I needed this so much"
Participant, Social Practice Surgery Workshop,
Social Work? Live, Manchester School of Art, 2019

This is a resource created for and by social art practitioners to

support each other in a variety of circumstances, but in

particular when we are suffering from "Mess Fatigue"*. It has been

developed through and supported by an Axisweb Award and

commissions from The New Bridge Project 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

The project is being facilitated by Dan Russell and Lady Kitt. This

resource is only possible because of the generosity, openness and

kindness of social art practitioners from around the world, who

have shared their stories, ideas and experiences in order to support others and build resilience within our collective practice. People do this through Social Practice Surgeries, by joining & contributing to the “Social Practice 1st Aid Kit” group on Facebook and by having informal chats. We are working directly with illustrator Lou Brown and a variety of other artists to create animated, illustrated and musical resources for the kit.

The project is supported by Orbis and Ampersand Inventions through a year long (2018-19) residency at CU House, Newcastle (UK) and through opportunities and funding from a variety of other venues and organizations including North East Cultural Partnership and axisweb through "Social Works? Live".

The project aims to be very practical. Asking what happens that contributes to MessF, what do we need to do / create to help us counter the negative effects of MessF and who do we need to support us in this?


Social Practice 1st Aid Kit wish list:

Social Art Helpline

Open access templates for social practice project documents (contacts, questions to ask, timelines, ways of exploring and demonstrating value, policies, risk assessments)

HE/ FE courses and modules about the practical aspects of making socially engaged work

The Social Practice Self Care Song (a song we can sing to embed self care into our practice- and our lives!)

Walking and Talking artists support groups (regular opportunities to meet up with other practitioners, get some fresh air and chat about things we need to chat about)

Social Practice 1st Aid Kit links to projects / people / places / stuff we have found useful and inspiring:


Social Art Summit


axisweb, Social Works? 

Coming soon: axisweb Social Art Library

Social Art Network, Sheffield

Social Practice Forum, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Social Art Map, London

Socially engaged and participatory arts network, International

"21st Century Folk Art : Social Art and / as Research" Book by Lucy Wright, Published by Social Art Publications with thanks to Axisweb

a-n Guidance on artist fees

Artist Union England- support with disputes, contacts etc

Curator Space- lists a variety of art opportunities including socially engaged work

Ria Hartley, Ecologies of Care

Sheila Preston, Coach and well being in arts specialist

bait (CPP) Northumberland, Resources about planning, creating, managing, sharing, delivering, learning from & through, and celebrating social art projects 

Working alongside older adults: Gemma Seltzer "Writers Meet Elders"


Social Practice 1st Aid Kit some ideas to get started with

Find your gang! Build supportive relationships with other socially engaged practitioners locally, nationally and internationally.


When planning projects build in a "regular beat of conversations" (with other practitioners, commissioners, participant, partners) about what is happening, how the project may be changing , how changes may be effecting: the people involved, the proejct structures and the outcomes.

"Take February off"! said jokingly, but as a way to make a serious point: Plan for the year and plan time off- not just "on holiday", but time off from contact time, time to do "life admin", do your accounts, think about professional development, spend time with other artists.

The "Time Guillotine". Either physically write down your time table for your day / week/ month and physically cut it up to (using cuts to illustrate when you are taking time for yourself to rest, relax) or imagine  slicing up your time to create portions that are just for you.

Get on some weather appropriate gear and go for a walk.

Social Practice 1st Aid Kit existing resources:

We are working on these right now!

Pre Practice 1st Aid Kit  preventative measures:

We're working on these too!

We need your help, please!

If you have questions, suggestions, provocations,

resources, events you would like us to come to, groups

you would like us to visit- PLEASE let us know HERE!

* "MessF"; Phrase coined by Lady Kitt in 2017 to describe the tiredness, sometimes sadness, often frustration, nearly always a seemingly over whelming amount of physical organising and emotional processing which socially engaged projects can generate for practitioners.

"Beautifully facilitated and absolutely necessary"
Participant, Social Practice Surgery Workshop,
NECP Case for Culture Annual Forum, ARK, Stockton, 2018

Social Practice 1st Aid Kitt

© 2021 by Lady Kitt