These last 3 weeks have been exciting and overwhelming. So far, I have been immersing myself in relevant texts, reading, reading, reading books, reports and articles that deal with wellbeing, ageing, migration and theories that help to interpret multiple complexities in the interpretations of identity, such as intersectionality and translocational positionality. (I know!) My reading is often disrupted by the images that the text evoke in my head, moving, fluid, creative concerns that I eventually ‘snap’ out of in an effort to finish the sentence that was started!
I have been included in the online discussion groups that act as a base to share information, for the different arms of the project ‘Representing Communities’: Research Fish and Basecamp. We have set up a Twitter account for the Representing ‘Butetown’ project and opened a Facebook page, which now has over 140 ‘friends’! I have also attended a conference: Evaluation and Artistic Methods seminar held at the Maldron Hotel. The works and ideas presented there were stimulating.
In beginning to engage with the question of ‘how community representations produced through the creative arts practices can be used as forms of evidence to inform health-related policy and service development’ I consider initially, the kinds of arts that are already being produced by this community. In the case of the Caribbean first-generation migrants with links to Butetown, there are places of congregation that become important for the playing out of their identity-performances. These identity-performances contribute to some of the constituents of wellbeing that have been developed by researchers and scientists. Being ‘well’, ‘balanced’ and the moving play of that balance within psychological, social and physical aspects of an individual’s life can be attributed to subjective feelings such as that of being safe, secure, happy, being a part of something, feeling loved and in control.
The photograph below of Trinidadian Narcenio ‘Seῆor’ Gomez (carnival costume designer and maker) taken by photographer Maria Nunes, captures for me, the resilience and determination of the older generation. In this particular photo, individual creativity can be seen to play a crucial role in the idea of subjective wellbeing. If I may be permitted to generalise, younger people have a tendency to forget and ignore the abilities and talents of the elders (in Western societies). I consider it helpful to ask the question what do/did you make.
One of the things I am interested in, is analysing these ‘everyday’ and not-so-everyday identity-performances through documentary photography and conversations and in working along with the individuals and groups to allow for a large-scale public presentation/exhibition of the documentary images with text extracts. The written analysis of these ‘everyday’ performances (considered here as a creative art in itself) in relation to health and wellbeing/resilience/agency/visibility, can then be compiled into a working document with the intention of developing a storyboard that can potentially contribute to a short documentary (in the future).
There is a lot of work that has already been done. In some ways I have entered this project at a really exciting time. At the moment I am dealing with finding my fit, moving between images and text, videos, drawing, music and writing. Bit by bit, so far so good.