DIALOGUES - a Creative Conversation on Instagram with Artist John L Morrison ...
Our Artist in Residence, John L Morrison was interviewed by
Articulate's Engagement Co-ordinator, Laura Frood in Edinburgh about this unusual residency which is supported by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH):
Can you tell us about your motivation for applying for the residency with Articulate?
'I identified with Articulate’s beliefs in the experience of the creative arts for transformative change and community cohesion. I am especially interested in collaborating with Articulate for exploring the ways in which photography and digital media can support care experienced learners in being authors of their own narrative and representation. I hope that by working together we can create new insights into how online creative processes and the digital media produced collaboratively can open up ongoing dialogues with audiences on topics that are important to the care experience learners. The bigger picture would be that this project can align with other exciting initiatives that also position care experienced learners at the heart of the creative experience. Through active listening and opening new routes to dialogue, we can present multiple and more textured views of care identity that together can help disrupt the incomplete, single-story perspective, which is often presented through statistics and headlines. Going beyond the deficit discourse by acknowledging the specific sensitivities, yet also celebrating the diversity, heightened creativity and emotional intuition of the people behind the numbers.'
What is your experience of working with care experienced people?
'While studying for a teaching certificate, I became curious about the striking contradiction between on the one side, the ways the education sector talked about deficits relating to care identity and on the other, the shared magic qualities I admire and value among my care experienced friends. These include heightened creative abilities, a deeply emotional sense of connectedness, loyalty and of course, resilience in the face of adversity. The teaching certificate facilitated some time for me to begin exploring the potential of online tools, in supporting inclusion and achievement for care experienced learners. This work laid to the foundations for a PhD project which, since 2017, has facilitated a range of opportunities to collaborate with care experienced individuals and advocacy organisations, including:
- Volunteering as an art tutor for Crisis Scotland, which involves designing and running creative workshops with a broad range of people who are care experienced or estranged from their families and have experienced homelessness.
- A participatory project with the newly formed Edinburgh Champions Board which is comprised of care experienced young people currently outside of tertiary education. This project ran over four weeks and focused on ways to support the individual creative talents of participants. This led to new insights on the potential of digital media for building bridges of communication and understanding between care experienced individuals and corporate parents.
- Contributing digital skills to a collaborative participatory art project called The Verbatim Formula. This initiative uses verbatim theatre techniques to attend to the voices of care-experienced young people and adults responsible for their care and education. Through verbatim performances of their testimonies, it raises awareness and aims to provoke changes to working practices in care and education.'
Please explain more about the social media project you plan with us.
'This new project, in collaboration with Articulate, represents the development of a creative platform hosted on Instagram. The idea is that a range of inspiring artists will frame regular creative challenges relating to aspects of their practice while embodying core themes connected to care identity, which emerged from recent Articulate research and projects. These will be recorded as one-minute videos which invite participants to develop responses and post to Instagram with the project's #. One week after the creative challenges are published, the page will then host a live dialogue with the artist on IGTV, where the artist responds to the works created and the participants and artist can have a dialogue about ideas generated. The first experiment for the project features an Edinburgh-based jewellery designer called Eleanor Kerr-Patton. Eleanor’s practice embraces the philosophy of Kintsugi, applying it to mirrors for exploring her own experiences with mental illness and recovery. The philosophy of the technique treats damage and repair as part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise.
The project will primarily be online so that people can participate around their other commitments, but we will also host a few pop-up sessions through the Champions Board network to help inspire ideas. The hope is that participants of the project will develop new skills and self-confidence through creative expression that can help open up new opportunities and dialogues.'
Can you please explain a bit about your own creative background?
'I am an artist and practitioner, lecturing on the Digital Media and Interaction Design programme at the School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University. I am currently part way through a PhD at Edinburgh College of Art which is focused on exploring lens-based digital media for generating new insights that can support inclusion and achievement for care experienced learners in tertiary education.
Previously I have worked as an art worker for the Stills Gallery in Edinburgh, supporting Creative Scotland funded projects, which aimed to break down barriers for participation in the arts among marginalised groups.'