What have been the consequences of coming together?

Consequences on zoom, face to face or as postal worksheets has enabled discussion on topics ranging from the origin of our names, the identification of magnetic north using body hair, isolation, personal trauma, roles of women and of course Covid and BLM protests. Personal, political, universal debates… We have laughed, cried, longed for and sworn. In many ways we have grown in confidence, been vulnerable, made friends, tried new things. Drawing and its outcomes have accompanied us along the way, helping our conversations, often with strangers, flow. That doesn’t mean the drawing is an add on, rather it is a serious action, or line, helping us to walk with the knowledge that we might not know where we are going.

F Matarasso [community artist/writer] would describe his role, when working alongside people, as that of a seasoned Mountain Guide – holding peoples anxieties as they climb new routes. I like this description, it recognises the risk – a mountain is not a predictable place, as well as the experience of knowing what to do with twisted ankles, fog and beautiful views. I often talk about how my work is in the process of making with others, enabling vulnerability and giving people permission. Both our approaches acknowledge and value the ‘emergent space’ and an ability to sit with not knowing.

However and importantly Consequences is as much Sarah and Ruth’s work, often known as the project managers, here they are definitely collaborators. We worked things out together, responding to what comes up and what the women involved need or want. I wonder if our collective creative thinking is also like the act of drawing – a feedback loop of idea forming and response? This approach allows for ownership beyond us 3, enabling anyone involved to see their part in the collective whole.

My practice is concerned with improvisation and care and the work to date has involved these themes at multiple levels. Improvisation can been seen in the approaches outlined above, in the drawings themselves and of course in our response as Covid hit.  Care is how we’ve been with each other and with those who have participated. Its implicit in the packs and workshops offered or sent out. It’s there in the Zoom sessions as distanced people support and comfort and encourage and significantly present in the drawn and discussed responses to questions or prompts carefully submitted.

As we move in to the final phase of this project, where we will showcase online, publicly site posters and develop packs to extend the work, my ambition is to celebrate but also recognise there is much work to be done – in connecting, learning and seeing one another more across age, religion, background and culture. Consequences has enabled women in Peterborough and across the country to coalesce in and around distinct spaces, diverse questions and alternative drawing prompts. But I hope in the future its outcomes create further connection, understanding and empathy.