Sunday, 27 September 2015

…all of this, and more

Did you know that this month is UK Recovery Month? I know over the past few years I’ve written quite a lot about Recoverism on this blog and maybe, just maybe, you think it's a niche area of work that perhaps doesn’t involve you? In truth - it affects us all - and just like our mental health, it’s something all of us should consider, even when we don’t see ourselves as ‘problem’ drinkers, or feel we’re misusing our drugs of choice. We’re in a world that actively pushes cheap alcohol at us from supermarkets to cheaper-than-cheap pub offers, from infant-friendly alcopops to sophisticated spirits pitched at the maturer adult. Then the words - drugs - addiction - abuse - all of them loaded, dirty and full of shame and blame. Well, how do people become ‘addicted’, and do we include our state-sanctioned repeat prescriptions in the mix? For a start - it would be helpful to reframe addiction from the language of criminality and sickness and understand it in terms of wider society and conspicuous consumption. From peer-group pressure to loneliness, drink and drugs offer a quick route to both conformity and escape - from superficially inflating our sense of being, to crushing our very essence. 

Working with people affected by substance misuse issues over this last few years has offered me deep and unexpected pleasures. Yes, pleasures. Whilst many people have stories of loss and pain, it’s been the common bonds and aspirations that have connected us. Working towards the Recoverist Manifesto and meeting all those people who have contributed so far, makes me realise that what we are undertaking helps reframe substance misuse and recovery away from the sickness industry and embeds it within a wider social justice agenda. This work is about culture change and blowing away clichéd representations of addiction and recovery. 

Manchester based Portraits of Recovery are behind a series of ongoing cultural events that includes an exhibition of artist, Melanie Manchot’s work - TWELVE - which is currently on show at the Castlefield Gallery until 1st November.

TWELVE is a major new multi-channel video installation exploring the intimate stories, rituals, repetitions and ruptures of lives spent in addiction and recovery. Inspired by the visual acuity of renowned contemporary filmmakers, the work connects and collapses individual recollections in which everyday situations, events and activities are rendered dramatic or abstract and infused with tragedy, pathos and humour.

Over the last two years Manchot has worked in dialogue with twelve people in recent recovery from substance misuse, in rehabilitation communities in Liverpool, Oxford and London. TWELVE is directly informed by their personal written and oral testimonies, creative conceptions, and performances within the final works. Single sequences are shot as continuous takes, referencing iconic scenes from the films of Michael Haneke, Gus van Sant, Bela Tarr and Chantal Akerman – a ferry journey across the Mersey, a darkened room looking out on to an early morning street, a car wash, the cutting of daisies with small scissors, the obsessive cleaning of a floor – providing the framework for reflections on remembered incidents and states of mind. 

To coincide with the exhibition join Manchot in conversation with Dr Amanda Ravetz at Castlefield Gallery on 10 October 2015 / 3-5pm. The event will also be the official book launch for TWELVE, a publication with specially commissioned texts by Bill Arning, Gareth Evans, Zoe Pilger and Sally O’Reilly. Dr Amanda Ravetz is a writer and filmmaker and has a PhD in Social Anthropology. She is based in the research centre MIRIAD at the Manchester School of Art. Details HERE.

Join the debate on the value of art within the addiction & Recoverist agenda on the 13 October 2015 / 10am-12:30pm. Speaking at the event will be Clive Parkinson, Director of Arts for Health at MMU, Social Scientist Dr Ali Roy from UCLAN, Zoe Zontou, a Lecturer in Drama at Liverpool Hope University, UKRF founding Director & recovery activist, Alistair Sinclair and founding Director & Twelve commissioner, Mark Prest from Portraits of Recovery. More details HERE. 

Find Castelfield Galley’s, Twelve+ posters at poster sites across Manchester, 11 September – 15 October 2015. To coincide with the exhibition participants in long term recovery, collaborated on Twelve+ Manchester with Manchot and Portraits of Recovery with support from Manchester-based artist Rachel Cheung. Through a series of workshops the participants explored their lived experiences of addiction and recovery and their reactions to Twelve, in order to produce co-authored artwork taking Twelve out onto the streets at poster-sites across Manchester. For more information on the locations and dates of the posters please follow Twelve+ with this Google Map link

Major Work by Vic McEwan on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River 
Arts for Health collaborator and artsist in residence at the National Museum of Australia, Vic McEwan presents his latest work. “A haunting art installation has come to life on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River on the edge of Canberra. Using fog as a canvas, contemporary artist Vic McEwan has transformed static images of historical objects from the National Museum of Australia's (NMA) collection, into a transient live experience. The fluidity of the fog breaths life into the archival images, creating an eerie spectacle projected on the banks of the river. The fog installation explores Australia's connection to the land through the museum's agriculture collection. Featured objects include a collection of prize-winning wheat samples, a stump-jump plough, grinding stones used by Wiradjuri people to make flour, and a typewriter used by poet and activist Mary Gilmore.” Read more by clicking on the image ABOVE.

Sex Workers and Dying? 
Callout for help? 
Good grief?
No - this is not a midlife crisis! Although, come to think of it, I am a little warn out, frazzled and just a tad haggard! No, this is a serious request. Although the net has plenty of dubious stories about the value of sex workers in the lives of people with low self esteem and sometimes physical disfigurement, I’m finding very little in terms of references to how people with a terminal illness and who maintain sexual desire, fulfil this if they’re not in a relationship. Anecdotally, I understand that forward thinking palliative care workers and hospice staff have enabled these moments to happen, but if you have any experience in this field, or know of research or workers in this area, it would help inform a new piece of work I’m involved in. Email HERE.

The Radcliffe Trust – Music Grants 
The Radcliffe Trust has announced that the next deadline for applications to its Music masking grants programme is the 31st January 2016. Through its grant making programme, the Radcliffe Trust supports classical music performance and training especially chamber music, composition and music education. Particular interests within music education are music for children and adults with special needs, youth orchestras and projects at secondary and higher levels, including academic research. Applicants must be a registered charity or an exempt charity.

Funding to Support Education in Impoverished Areas (UK & Worldwide)
The British & Foreign Schools Society (BFSS), which supports educational projects in the UK and around the world, has announced that the next closing date for applications is the 18th December 2015. The Society supports organisations within the UK and internationally that reach out to children in remote or impoverished areas, improving inclusively in education and providing much-needed facilities. The Society normally makes grants for educational projects totalling about £500,000 in any one year. The majority (85% of grants) are made to charities and educational bodies (with charitable status).


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