Creative Dementia Arts Conference 2016


This years conference was at St Hugh’s College, Oxford 14th and 15th April 2016.

My original proposal for this MA  ( as I remember it!) was  based on autobiographical and collective memory and I had some idea, I think, of linking my community -based work with my practice. I’ll explore how these links have developed and unravelled in another post but I’m including this resume of the conference to reference specific uses of digital technology and also a project I became aware of that I will follow up in the future, post-MA.

From a Networking Point of view the conference is always useful meeting with colleagues, Clare Carswell who is Lights Up Co-ordinator.

Lights up is a Monthly arts group for people with Dementia and their carers in West Oxfordshire. I have worked with the group on several occasions and work from the group was exhibited at an exhibition in January, curated and installed by Clare.

Hannah Cervenka ( who Co-ordinates Taking Part which helps to fund Community practice in the area) and Paula Bailey ( who I worked with on the Banbury Old Town Party community event for several years).  Both are Arts Development Officers for Cherwell District Council,  Karey Morley, who facilitates the ‘Times Gone By’ Reminiscence group at  Banbury Museum were also there and I had a great discussion about Community Practice with Pam Foley, sculptor amongst others.

Frames of Mind

The key elements of the Conference for me were the Workshop by Salmagundi Films , a not for profit arts organisation founded in 2004 by Zoe Flynn and Bo Chapman and based in Stratford, East London

Their workshop highlighted their use of iPads for people with dementia in care homes, framesofmind_300.png

“Frames Of Mind® (FOM) is our concept of using Stop Frame Animation as a therapeutic communication tool. With Animation anything can happen. It is a creative process which encourages the use of visual metaphors, to think outside the box, and this liberation from the ‘literal’ can enable participants to explore and communicate potentially difficult or sensitive issues.”

There is an article published in Dementia Care which gives further insight into their work.


I have tried to introduce Google Maps as a Reminiscence tool but have limited success. Working as a sole practitioner is  restrictive unless I work 1:1 or 1:2 which isn’t possible in the places where I work or with the groups that I facilitate, at the moment.

In the case of Frames of Mind there was funding to include Care staff in the project for training and supply of iPads to the homes for (in theory) a sustainable project. This goes back to the need discussed in a past post about working as an individual rather than a company…for funding and commissioning purposes.

For the future this may be the only way for me to go as a Community Artist……

We worked through the process of making a personal portrait and also saw how Stop Frame animation could used to make short autobiographical films for  people with dementia using personal objects or photos.

I don’t have an iPad but will invest in one, play around with the drawing apps and some stop-frame  and introduce the technology to some individuals and staff in the groups I work with. Too good an opportunity to miss. Again it will have to wait a little while.

The hand- held quality of the iPad really helps make the experience intimate and personal. Much more so than a lap-top which  can  seem too threatening to much older people.

UAL and Dementia Research

In one of the (many) leaflets I picked up There was a call for Papers for the Royal Society for Public Health Conference in 2017 on the Arts and Dementia. For the therapeutic nature of the arts to be recognised and researched is  a huge leap. The Research is both Qualitative and Quantitative which means it  can be used to attract funding and help reduce other costs! Dr. Hannah Zeilig from London College of Fashion, UAL is one of the Organising Committee for the Conference.

Again something to Research when the MA is  completed  to  consolidate my personal and community practice.

The Reading Room Event :even Further reflections’Community Participative Action Research Project’

At the risk of boring everyone even myself, I must post this further analysis and reflection on the Reading Room Event.

When I exhibited the leaflets, flyers and posters at the Interim Show I had to describe the medium for the work….I struggled with this and then  composed this phrase

‘Community Participative Action Research Project’ ( sic ) as I felt it described what I had done to some extent.

  •  I had worked with a community
  • The community were involved through participation
  • The project involved me performing ‘actions’, witnessing and analysing the actions of others and provoking actions within the community
  • I has employed this method of researching this part of my MA
  • I was also researching and analysing this methodology for researching for the MA
  •  It was a medium- term project (something I was doing before doing something else) – though ‘finishing’ with a single event

However, I decide to ‘Google’ this description before I asked for it to be printed on the exhibition labels….. just to see if the description had been used before…..

This is what I found…….There was a Wiki description of PAR,( below) which apparently already existed before I coined the phrase….always best to check!

If I’m honest , although I think my work fits the general description of PAR when it comes to the tenets it falls short.

In the end I did this work for me , so there was a high degree of Artistic Autonomy rather than agency  in the community involvement and to some extent, although I was interested in their comments and their thoughts I was to some extent ‘using them’ for my own work.

They had not invited me there and although I contributed by paying rent on the Reading Room I may not have given them anything back.

I cannot assume that what I did was ‘good ‘for the community.

After all it was my research for my project. So questions of authenticity arise.

I was authentic, I hope ,in the conversations I had with the community about why I was there and why I was interested i.e the contrast between the Reading Room and RAF Croughton and the comparisons of the technologies ’embodied with them’.

But I did not highlight my concerns over fro e.g. drone strikes.

What is interesting is how MY thoughts came to change during the time that I was working there…

How I saw the people at RAF Croughton was individuals rather than as a ‘group’.

Some of this was due to the individuals I met there and also through other independent freelance tuition work which I’d been                                                                                            doing in the area with a family who had connections with the base.

I’ve underlined the tenets that do apply, to a greater or lesser extent but actually as far as community participation in the true sense of the word, they did participate by coming to the event…. ( a few of them) and by allowing me to film etc but this is not real participation and certainly not true .collaboration

 It was more me that participated in their world.

Anyway, this below may be useful and also this link to FORUM: Qualitative Social Research, a Journal article which describes more about Participatory Research as a methodology.

It is very interesting and I’ll have to consider it in detail if I decide to continue with this methodology, so I really know what it is that I am doing…...

I guess what’s also interesting for me is the fact that this research as my practice actually became part of my research for the Research Paper.

For me they are one and the same…almost indistinguishable….except that the written paper is in a textual and ‘formal medium…whereas any work I have produced and may produce in the future is just in a different medium.


Forum for Qualitative Social Research

Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It seeks to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection. PAR emphasizes collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience and social history. Within a PAR process, “communities of inquiry and action evolve and address questions and issues that are significant for those who participate as co-researchers”.[1] PAR contrasts with many research methods, which emphasize disinterested researchers and reproducibility of findings.

PAR practitioners make a concerted effort to integrate three basic aspects of their work: participation (life in society and democracy), action (engagement with experience and history), and research (soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge).[2] “Action unites, organically, with research” and collective processes of self-investigation.[3]

The way each component is actually understood and the relative emphasis it receives varies nonetheless from one PAR theory and practice to another. This means that PAR is not a monolithic body of ideas and methods but rather a pluralistic orientation to knowledge making and social change.[4][5][6]16 Tenets of Participatory Action Research

Robin McTaggart (1989)

The 16 tenets of Participatory Action Research outlined in this short note were presented to the 3er Encuentro Mundial Investigacion Participatva (The Third World Encounter on Participatory Research), Managua, Nicaragua, September 3 – 9, 1989. They represent an important reflection and distillation of the praxis of participatory action research, by one of its leading practitioners, during the 1980s. The Caledonia Centre for Social Development, as part of its on-going work in the field of participatory development, wishes to make these tenets accessible to a new generation of social activists and to re-stimulate older practitioners.
See Also:

Participatory Action Research

is an approach to improving social practice by changing it
is contingent on authentic participation
is collaborative
establishes self-critical communities
is a systematic learning process
involves people in theorising about their practices
requires that people put their practices, ideas and assumptions about institutions to the test
involves keeping records
requires participants to objectify their own experiences
is a political process
involves making critical analyses
starts small
starts with small cycles
starts with small groups
allows and requires participants to build records
allows and requires participants to give a reasoned justification of their social (educational) work to others
Source and Further Information

These participatory action research tenets are published on page 79 of Everyday Evaluation on the Run, Yoland Wadsworth, (2nd Edition), Allen and Unwin, Australia, 1997

For a fuller description and elaboration of Robin McTaggart’s approach to Participatory Action Research readers are advised to consult The Action Research Planner, Stephen Kemmis and Robin McTaggart (Eds), 3rd Edition, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia, 1988.

Robin McTaggart, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria 3217, Australia,

Fax (61) 52 442 777.

1. a b c Reason, P. and Bradbury, H. (2008) (eds) The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. Sage, CA. ISBN 978-1412920292.
2. a b c d e f g h i Chevalier, J.M. and Buckles, D.J. (2013) Participatory Action Research: Theory and Methods for Engaged Inquiry, Routledge UK. ISBN 978-0415540315.
3.a b Rahman, Md. A. (2008) “Some Trends in the Praxis of Participatory Action Research”, in P. Reason and H. Bradbury (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Action Research. Sage, London, pp. 49–62.
4. Chambers, R. (2008) “PRA, PLA and Pluralism: Practice and Theory”, in The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. Reason, P. and H. Bradbury (eds). Sage, pp. 297–318.
5. Allen, W.J. (2001) Working Together for Environmental Management: The Role of Information Sharing and Collaborative Learning. PhD Thesis, Massey University, Auckland, NZ.
6.Camic, C. and Joas, H. (2003) The Dialogical Turn: New Roles for Sociology in the Postdisciplinary Age. Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland. ISBN 978-0742527102.
7. Lewin, K. (1946) “Action Research and Minority Problems”, Journal of Social Issues, vol 2, no 4, pp. 34–46.

The Reading Room: Retrospective description 3 : Activities and Reflections continued


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Film :

Reception and analysis-

I’d been working on this whilst visiting the Reading Room and planning the participative event.

It started as a few short bits of layered shot footage and searches relating to the location.

Here are some stills.

The finished piece is about 25 minutes long and very, very slow and, so some viewers say, mesmerising.

Others have said that it makes then ‘tingle’ from time to time….

My difficulty was making the film with relevant to the location and the audience in Croughton and maintaining a political link with the lack of/ intervention of digital comms tech in the area and the effect this may be having in a global context.

So the film may have sat on the fence and maybe I was trying to ‘ serve two masters’.

Certainly the film went down well with the Reading Room audience who interpreted  my message BUT  possibly the local emphasis took over from the effects of the comms at RAF Croughton?

I am not sure how this would be received elsewhere.

One comment from a friend said the political footage was not strong enough technically and therefore was lost, however I’m not sure. I didn’t want to make it blatant and lose the obscurity I’d created by the layering of sound and image..

I almost feel as if I need several versions depending on where they are to be shown.

Really I need to get this out there and see what others think.

I am not good at doing this.

I am still really bad at showing work….but this does need to be seen more widely to get appropriate feedback I think.

From the POV of this event it was fine.

The audience stayed and watched from beginning to end…..unusual for video, and possibly because it was ‘about them”

It was shown in the rather gloomy bar area but people gathered and watched together, though I did see the vicar dozing off for a moment!



It highlights the contrast between the lack of connection in the village and the comms  outside at RAF Croughton and also, I hope, the ‘psycho – geography’ of the Reading Room……

Making it was fascinating.

I’ve never worked on a piece this long before and looking on line for footage, I found myself moving into areas I’ve never investigated before.

Certainly I was in a different geograpical area on the internet. I found myself looking at footage of terrorist attacks caught on CCTV and broadcast on some Arab News Sites.

It was chilling to watch people ( doctors)  being gunned down in a hospital by terrorists wearing masks and people running  after bombs exploded.

This is the footage we don’t normally see.

I was in unknown territory and I could not put it into context properly as, of course, the voice over was in Arabic.

I felt uncomfortable and frightened. This was not a feature film.

In Summary, I need to think about whether I can make different ‘editions’ of the film for different locations and audiences.

I need to show it to more people.

I do not want to upload it to Vimeo or Youtube. I want to maintain ‘possession’ of it……..

Communication with Camberwell MA Show:

Analysis –

Basically this didn’t happen.

As I think I’ve already mentioned on a previous post relating to Audience, no-one got in touch by text, call, Snapchat… nowt!

Not during the Show but when I wasn’t at the Reading Room or during the event at the Reading Room.

Not friends, colleagues, tutors… no-one… not even people at the Reading Room called as a joke….

no signal when I was there but no texts or Voicemail picked up later…..

I could have handed out the leaflets away from the Camberwell Show and also Tweeted/ Facebooked/ SnapChatted etc about

this element of the event and so encouraged other input but I guess I was concentrating, as I mentioned on these two audiences…poles apart …….with no interim….

Possibly, because of the amount of effort I put into the organisation and execution of the event it feels as if `i ‘should have done more’ with it and let others see it or at least let them know it existed…. A-N and other areas amy have been appropriate.

I guess I didn’t want an ‘arty crowd’ to descend on the place physically but I could have put more effort in to have a ‘virtual crowd’ and not rely on the Camberwell audience….I’ve discussed some of the reasons why hey didn’t engage in the previous post.

Another lesson learnt. There are ways to widen participation without’ interference’ using digital and social media.

I should have used them better and not been so purist/ about this area.

Watching a Live-Feed of the event from the event –

Well, this just didn’t happen as I’ve described. No Broadband connection in or out of the Reading Room, though a tempting ‘theoretical’ link to BT Open Zone was possible.

Apparently this is visible all the time but you can never log-in.

Still, I did mange to work out how to set up a Live-Feed and did that, with the help of YouTube tutorials and my sons and the eldest’s Chromebook. See below:


Home-made cakes and Conversation:

Analysis –

Participation here was strong with all participants fully engaged during their visit to the event.

No-one just breezed in and out with a cursory look around.

The cakes helped, as did the presence of Jane and Richard who are Caretakers and Booking agents for the Reading Room  and who featured in the flyer.

The local people came in to spend time and chat and see what it was all about. So did the other visitors.

We had conversations about the ubiquity of the digital especially comms, the intrusion and usefulness, reliance or not upon digital technology, the expansion of RAF Croughton and unknown impact, surveillance of a different kind in the Cold War;

and we talked of other more ancient things…the nearby Iron Age Rainsborough camp, the stone that makes the building, the fires that were lit in the winter.

Things of ancient ritual and dwelling deep in the collective memory of this community

One visitor said that maybe to live in a place where there is No Broadband or phone signal will be a selling point in the future with these ‘islands’ of silence valued highly… with just face- to face real time conversations… Maybe.


The Reading Room in 2015 : no helpful visuals…… only words and your ‘mind’s eye’….

Here is something I wrote which may, somehow, find it’s way into my Research Paper….. ( What!?)

In case it doesn’t, or it is unrecognisable by the time it gets there,  here it is in its sort of, almost full form- written from memory, though I did check the Sanitary Disposal bags the last time I visited in case they were a figment of my imagination.

I didn’t check anything else for accuracy.

Reading Room has long rectangular windows topped with stained glass that produce refracted patterns of colour on the unpolished wooden herringbone floor when the sun shines.

Clingfilm covers inside the windows, loosened a little at the bottom to let out the trapped flies. Occasional dead flies lie on the window- sills.

Pink heat retaining’ Sanderson’ -print curtains furnish the windows following recent fundraising.

High dark-wood curved beams are exposed in ceiling after the controversial removal of a modern replacement. A central vent which allowed for the escape of smoke has been replaced by a fan.

A wooden mantelpiece above a red brick fireplace, now houses an electric ‘stove’. Watercolour paintings of the village by local artists are balanced above with vintage photographs on the opposite wall, where a larger boarded-up fireplace is home to a white electric convector.

Dominating the Reading Room is a fabric Union Jack flag, fastened to the large notice board. ‘WELCOME” cut out in multi-coloured paper lettering sits above it in a curve.

Original wooden wall panelling was removed. In the controversial modernisation

Wooden shelves along a narrow, quarry tiled corridor offer books for free exchange; above them, photographs of local sports historic successes and a large print portrait of the Queen. The pink tiled ‘Ladies’ toilet provides ‘Crinoline lady’ sanitary disposal bags and has an electric hand drier marked ‘Out of Order’. Local myth tells of a ghost who moves one of the many mirrors in the dark bar area.

Dark-varnished ‘cottage’ tables and chairs seating four are covered with pastel yellow seersucker fitted tablecloths and  decorated with Foster’s lager glasses containing pink fabric flowers weekly coffee mornings.

For the bi-monthly whist- drives these are replaced with a pack of Sports Direct playing cards and a score sheet.

Coffee and tea are made using a cylindrical water boiler and served with home-baked cakes over the 1970’s wooden counter as the sun descends slowly in the window behind.

On fine evenings, as the villagers gather for the Whist Drive, the sounds of rooks calling and Aunt Sally game next door at ‘The Blackbird” are echoes of the past.

Mobile signal is poor in the whole  village and both this and Broadband are unavailable in the Reading Room which also has  no telephone landline. An analogue transitor radio will tune into local station ‘ Banbury Sound’ if the aerial is extended in the appropriate direction.

The Reading Room: Retrospective description and analysis 1: Audience(s)

It’s been nearly 2 months since this event and almost as long since my last post.

I’ve realised the reason for my tiredness…shingles… only diagnosed retrospectively a couple of weeks ago but its still left me feeling below par…

Sometimes its hard to recognise the difficulty between exacerbation of MS symptoms and something different… but on top of the shingles aftermath I had vertigo ( caused by excess heat during a week in Austria – It was worth it though…met Sarah in Innsbruck too so that was fab. Hi Sarah!) then a further infection…..and more time with cognitive insufficiency…..hence the delay.

Well that’s my excuse and i’m sticking to it!

However, I decided just after the event that I would write up the analysis’ from a distance’ anyway… as a link to personal memory…I just hadn’t expected it to be from such a distance…..

It does mean that I will miss out some details, inevitably, but writing from this time perspective will be interesting as an exercise in remembering ‘ accurately’.

I’ll try to make some order out of my thoughts but within that I suspect there will be some randomness within the order…


Potentially there were two primary audiences for the event.

Those at the Reading Room and taking part directly and also those who went to the MA Show and had the opportunity of picking up a leaflet and following the instructions to call my mobile phone number and find the location.

I struggle with ‘audience’.

I am never sure who my audience is.

this isn’t good… how can I make work which addresses an audience if I don’t know who they are.

Previous work has addressed a contingent passing audience rather than a real ‘art’ audience and this is where I feel more ‘at home’, with an audience that is local and happens upon work which may or mayn’t be ‘art’

It’s hard to do this justice in an exhibition, even through documentation and I have restled with this and the concept and reality of documentation for some time.

some of my work has been about documentation itself which is how I got HERE

So this work attempted to address two audiences at the same time… part of the work itself.


The local audience were the people of Croughton and surrounding villages.

I purposely did not advertise he event outside the village as I wanted it to be a local event with participants having some connection to the site.

The only’ outsiders’ who came were Jon Shapley who I had asked to document the afternoon and two visitors from  nearby village who had seen poster when I was working in the building and ‘popped in’ to see what was happening. They came back for the event.

I used posters with a ‘vintage’ look… downloaded font ( OldNewspaperType ) and layout taking a copy of the Daily Mirror as an example.


 The first edition of this newspaper was published in 1903, the year the Reading Room was built.

Here is a quote from Information Britain

Launched by Alfred Harmsworth (the future Lord Northcliffe – British newspaper ownership so often coincides with elevation to the peerage for some reason) to capture a market under represented on Fleet Street at that time, i.e. women, The Daily Mirror was innovatively staffed mainly by women, including for the first edition Mary Howarth as editor.

I put posters up in the usual village places, there is no Post Office….. so… the Co-op and Jane put one in the bus shelter and the pub next door and the Reading Room itself.

There were lots of flyers also in the pub, Co-op and at Reading Room coffee mornings and whist drives for a few weeks prior to the event.

Whilst I’d been filming I’d been to lots of the social events and so they knew `i was going to be ‘doing something’.

I emailed an American couple from the RAF Base who had been at a dog training evening and also  the  couple who lived close and were passing by.

One was an artist who had worked previously in animation  at the local Animation Station and now, interestingly, worked for the Landmark Trust, a charity that renovate old buildings for use as holiday homes.

I also contacted the village website to get the event put on  but it didn’t appear after two ‘leaving of details’.

I got an email from the webmaster the evening after the event, as below.

Sorry – I only caught up with my backlog this week end – so I missed this.
Please try to give me a months notice to be sure.
All the best.

Jane apparently gave the details to the village newsletter which is distributed to every household in the village.

So everybody in the village should have known about it.

What I didn’t do was use social media as I wanted it to be available to a specific audience.


By showing the poster for the event ( but without location printed), flyers to provide a level of information and maybe intrigue as well as my contact details, and a larger pictorial flyer ‘illustrating’  elements of the event I had hoped to engage an audience at the MA Show.

The idea was that people would take a flyer and a leaflet , look at them in association with the poster and maybe follow the instructions, as below;

The Reading Room was built in 1903 by local landowner and benefactor, Edward Ramsay.

Jane (from Middlesex) and Richard (from Cleveland) now care for The Reading Room.

They met in 2009 on ‘Farmland’, keep bees and enjoy GEOCACHING.


Call : 07956 159954

The font I used was Helvetica Neue as this is the one used on iPhones.

Originally I’d used a different font for each line… referencing the text so for instance Farmland was in the Facebook font and Geocache

The Reading Room was built in 1903 by local landowner and benefactor, Edward Ramsay. Old Newspaper Types download

Jane (from Middlesex) and Richard (from Cleveland), now care for the Reading Room . Times

They met in 2009 on Farmland, keep bees and enjoy GEOCACHING. Lucida Grande Facebook And Arial Narrow Geocache website??? Farmland Verdana from website

FIND THIS LOCATION Arial but sharp outline therefore Bold on Google Earth

Call : 07956 159954 Helvetica Neue I Phone 4

Lots of work and very interesting but actually FAR too complicated and a waste of time….Would anybody have noticed and understand… also it meant that the message on the flyer was complicated not made easier to read by the font…

so it defeated the object really.

Anyhow, the idea was that on the day ( or possibly before as the MA Show Preview was on the Thursday and the event on the Saturday afternoon, people may pick up the flyers and call or text me.

Then I could send them the location by text or email with a pin for the Reading Room.

I hoped for conversations by call, Face time or Skype about the project and The Reading Room itself and its proximity to RAF Croughton and the contrasts in methods of communication  technology in the two different places.

I had hoped for any callers to then call again during the Reading Room event and then conversations could occur between people in the Reading Room and people in London… or wherever… a sort of ‘Old meets New’ if that’s not too naff…

The plan was also to try and stream a Live Event from the Reading Room.

I planned to send participants a link so that they could see the context and the action.

I also displayed posters of the following QR codes for links to a Soundcloud account  ( lots of soundless made from the Reading Room and interviews with local woman about her memories of the Reading Room)


and a Youtube channel ( a link to the ‘Live Stream’)


so that participants could look at other material ‘ after the event’.

The Result !


As you can see from the documentation there was a very small and selective response and engagement form the village.

To some extent this represents the difficulties that the Reading Room itself has in attracting an audience for any of its activities.

Other factors were

  • Charlton Village Fete ( a big event in the next village) was on the same afternoon as were other local ‘happenings’.
  • The fact that I am not from the village and maybe seen to be doing something ‘ I knew nothing about’? I had not contacted other village groups such as the local History Society or Reading Group as I had originally thought.Mainly because of lack of time.The more integration with the community the better the response. Obviously…
  • Suspicion of an ‘art activity’. There is an art group on the village and I had not approached them.
  •  Several people were on holiday as it was just at the beginning of the school holidays.

So, on another occasion I think I would make more effort to do these things and realise just how much time it takes in a community where you don’t live and they have not commissioned the work.

I was really pleased though by the quality of engagement if not the numbers.

The local vicar and curate came and were interested in the concepts behind the work.

The local people who did come stayed for some time, around an hour or more on average, and engaged fully with the activities I’d set up and watched the film for its full length.

The film was well received. More about this later.

One gentleman who came made a special effort as he didn’t usually attend Reading Room events although his wife does.

He lived  and worked on the farm where the stone used to build the Reading Room was quarried, was a member of the Reading Room from the age of 14 when he started work and held both his Wedding Reception and Golden Wedding Reception in the Reading Room.

He brought a photograph, which he keeps in his wallet.

IMG_1973 IMG_1975

The conversations ranged from memories and myths of the Reading Room and the village to stories of working in Russia during and after the Cold War.

So the link between local and global was alive in the conversation. ( if not in the technology as you can read below!)

I met this man again to glean more information and discovered that he was not only a member of the Reading Room, paid subscription and had a Membership Card until it was lent to someone else and not returned, but he also worked at RAF Croughton!


Despite the label to the work asking people to call me and FIND THIS LOCATION

No-one contacted me at all.

Not my friends who visited the show, or any of my cohort or my tutors………

Even a friend who I specifically asked if the extra label I send to be put on the plinth BY the flyers was actually there… saying PLEASE TAKE A FLYER AND LEAFLET… she didn’t call me..

There are several possible reasons for this…

  •  Mistrust of just calling a number from your phone….maybe….
  • Disinterest… the work was not engaging… maybe i  should have shown the film as well, but I did’t want to. I wanted the film to be shown in the community first and anyway there will have to be at least 2 versions… more on this in another post.
  • Lots of people took a leaflet and flier whilst I watched at the preview and then…put them back! Hence me sending and extra label instructing them to TAKE AWAY!!!
  • There is just too much work at a show for things with little immediate impact to be seen at all.
  • People generally don’t like to participate…. ( I haven’t previously, believed this and have not found it to be true wit other work I’ve done but this time it seems to be true)

However, it didn’t really matter as on the day of the event there, as expected, was no phone signal or Broadband available at all at any time in the Reading Room

or even outside although BT Open Reach shows as available… it ain’t.

Maybe some people did try to call then but didn’t leave a message

I like to think so but I don’t really imagine this was the case.

So a live stream was set up to start… But it didn’t happen.

Worth trying though for the sake of it. I might even remember how I did it and try again sometime.

I had to borrow my son’s Chromebook as my laptop is very old and didn’t support Chrome.

I had to pay him too…


Not a huge take-up . but I often think my work has a sort of ripple effect.

A small audience but hopefully one that is affected deeply and remembers for a long time… that the experience has some impact on future action

In retrospect, I should have invited colleagues and friends to the Event but at a later time, maybe in the evening following on from the local community so that the event could be intimate and personal and about the community…as it was…. but also other people got to see it and there was an interaction between the two…. a much better idea. I could have advertised the other event on social media but with the later start time.

I did think others would have found some elements more engaging than the Croughton Community and vice versa so it was a big missed opportunity. Although now I have all the materials etc I can set it up another time more easily.

I may even do it as a fundraiser  some time next year.

From a research point of view it was an invaluable experience as an experimental participative method.

I’ll discuss this in another post.

The Interim Show: Reflections and analysis

16th July 2015:

My work: Images on the two sides of the flyer, the poster and the leaflet plus a poor image of the installed work…

The Show as a whole looked very good I thought with things working together well and curated very well indeed.

There was a wide range of materials and presentations and I enjoyed both elements much more than the previous years and found all the work to be thought provoking.

It’s hard to look at fellow students work objectively but I thought everyone displayed their work appropriately and to the best advantage…..apart from ME!!!

I made a seriously bad judgement I think….but with the very best of intentions…maybe it would have worked better in a gallery not a college show?… too much to see and this was possibly ‘top quiet’ for this arena…

I chose to display printed flyers with the image below on one side ( a ‘still’ from the video- though it was actually a manufactured image as described previously) and an image of The Reading room on the authorised.

This later was not a particularly ‘good image’ and not really intended to be… more a throw away type casual image than a carefully taken and processed one.

I did this to represent it’s actual state  rather than a more perfect representation…but I think it may have just looked crap.

The idea of having the image on the other side was a bit literal really but represented the other side of the Reading Room’s position in the village… close to the RAF Base and centre of Communications whereas it has none of this and still operates in the past.

I displayed them in a plastic display holder so that people could take them away and look at them, throw them away whatever and they were not commodities but Freebies  for dissemination.

Along with these there were leaflets as below which were intended to intrigue and provoke people to call me during the Show.

I would then have a personal conversation and the interaction would be part of the work.

I hoped to put people in touch with each other, provide references to the Reading Room and send Pins for the location so that there map of the area could be investigated on tablets or phones by people themselves.

The text gave some background history to my investigation of The Reading Room.

I also displayed a poster for the event the Saturday. Same as the poster I displayed in the village.

I had chosen a Font closest to the Font used by Newspapers in 1903 when the Reading Room was built.

In fact the Daily Mail was first printed then,  so examples were easy to find and Download. I used recycled Cartridge paper to make it look older but then with references to Mobiles and tablets to highlight the contemporary.

I hoped that the audience at the Show would take copies of both the image flyer and the text, call me to find out more about The Reading Room and then I could  also put hem in touch with people on the day of the event 18th and send like to Soundfiles and videos if they were interested.

I’d got What’s App, FaceTime, Snapchat, text, phone, email and also planned a Google Hangout Youtube Live stream from The Reading Room, if possible.

At the Private view I noticed very few people actually taking the flyers away so I sent a label to stick on the plinth.

No-one!!! No-one!!! not even my friends or fellow students called the number…..!!!

(Or if they did it was on the Saturday and there was no phone signal at the Reading Room so I didn’t know!

No Broadband for the Hangout either……)

I need to analyse why.

What I do know is that I should have shown a video at the same time.

In fact I finished  the video after the installation and showed it first at the Reading Room.

This felt right but what I could have done is show it on the Saturday at the Show simultaneously with the Event.

I really did think that people would call the number… I think I would have… but maybe only if I was sufficiently engaged by the work displayed….

Also I described the work as a pice of Participation Action Research.

When I thought of  this term to describe what I had done, I didn’t know it already exists as a Research Methodology, but it does. See Here

Strictly speaking I don’t think my work is the same as it possibly did not involve the community enough and … but it is an interesting Methodology I’d like to investigate further for community based work.

Regarding selling work and pricing I thought hard about this and decided that although it  was intended not to be art as commodity, that I would set a price as a piece of research and charge as if for my time setting up the actual event so £1000 for £200 for a 5 day week.

Colleagues’ work

Below are some images of fellow students’ work and link to Final Year Students.

Here is the link to the Final Year students work

I found Ali Clark’s work very interesting when I went back later and could watch carefully.

Not that sure about the soundtrack though…..

His piece in the Camberwell Space was perfectly projected so small.

Other students work:

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The Reading Room Event: Set up and Preparation – a few days to go……

12th and 16th July:

In between getting things ready to install at Camberwell for the Interim Show, I’d solve the problem of the wrongly cut lino and turned it into a benefit! see below by having both Positive and Negative lettering.

Fiddly to use but much more versatile.

I’d printed some posters to go with the cut-out newspaper ones used when I was using the Reading Room as a studio.

Took ages and very messy.

Making the posters seemed an important part of the process but I’m not sure it added to the Event in the end. It was important for me but did it work..?

After installing at Camberwell on the Tuesday I went on the Thursday  and set up the slide projector in case anyone brought any slides and tested out the new media player and film with the digital.

I’d been working on the final film to show at the event and it is about 30 minutes long.

I’ll have to reflect on this separately.

Richard is anxious about how many people will turn out for the event

Jane is baking cakes.

I’ll take biscuits and coffee.

Jon Shapley will come and document with photographs.

All the newspapers are brought in and placed so that Richard can position the tables. The workshop areas are set up.

Cut-up newspapers will be printed on newsprint. I’ve bought a small printing set to supplement the linocut but got rid of the large paper communal printing idea for this event as there is no table big enough.

I’ve asked my son to print out some QR codes for the links to Vimeo and Soundcloud for sound file archive and videos and I’m going to borrow my other son’s Chrome book for the Google hang-outs live feed to Youtube if I can get a signal on the day.

The Reading Room : 11th Visit and Further Developments : Mistake and Image for Interim Show

4th July 2015:

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I visited the Reading Room to make a sketch plan for layout on 18th and touch base with Jane.

I left some invitations for the Americans who were having their Barbecue.

They were just setting up when I arrived and invited me to it.

Then I reversed the car into a tree!

On 4th July I carried on making the alphabet linocuts.

Having got to about V I realised i’d got so carried away with all this stuf I’d made the most fundamental mistake anyone can make when making lettering for printing.

I’d cut them all the wrong way round!!!!!!!!!!!

I know this stuff!

I tell people all about it all the time!!!

I just had so much on my mind I’d made the simplest of errors.

I’m not sure if I realised it on this day but it was round about now. I sorted it as seen later.

Moral is… Don’t get carried away with the making… keep  looking at what you are doing.. from a practical pov.

Also below is the final image I’ve constructed for the Interim Show

There were no stills his showed all the information I wanted to show at the same time so I’ve had to construct one that sort of tells the whole story in one image.

This will represent what I am doing in The Reading Room Project, along with the event poster and text I’ve thought up after my tutorial with Jonathan.

RR 5 D Y 2nd shortened for tutorial 9.6.15 1

The Reading Room : 10th visit Preparing for the Event on 18th July

28th June 2015:

By now I was really working up to the event At The Reading Room and had booked it for 18th July to co-incide with the MA Interim Show at Camberwell.

The idea was that I would show images at Camberwell but the actual event would be at the `reading Room.

This is because i have a problem with showing in an exhibition space and ‘audience’ i.e. who are the audience for my work….

I feel it is the people I have been working with in the community in Croughton, rather than the art school, London audience.

I was working on a series of things for the event.

  • People printing their own newspaper using a large roll of paper and linocut alphabet.
  • Dadaist style newspaper making using cut-up text and images for a range of newspapers from all over the world.
  • Newspapers from all over the world and  some from personal archive the be read in the Reading Room and prompt discussion of current affairs etc.
  • Alternative Playing Cards for Whist with images from newspapers
  • people bring slides and photographs of the Reading Room and other memorabilia
  • Showing of the film I was working on combining video of the Reading Room with reckon recordings of news particularly relating to issues i was thinking about wrt Croughton/ Broad band connection and RAF Croughton/ drones etc.
  •  Refreshments

I went to the Reading Room to work and use it as a studio in advance of the event and Jane and I distributed posters  and leaflets around the village to encourage people come.

On this day below couple of visitors from a neighbouring village dropped in. Both were artists.

You can see from the image that someone else thought about it… the camera was filming outside the building through the window.

I also wanted to check the Broadband signal as I wanted to set up a live feed on the day for participants from the MA Show.

Gigaclear have still not installed the new Fiberoptic Broadband which was promised.

So I think this will prove difficult but I want to try it as this is a main part of the work. The isolation of the Reading Room and what it has been in the context of contemporary communications and world events.There is no Phone signal for my network and even the analogue radio signal was dodgy. I listened to ‘Heart’ whilst I worked.

I cut up newspapers and made lino letters in anticipation.

The Reading Room: Further developments after the 8th visit

Towards the end of May I started to go printing crazy!

I’d introduced it to some of the groups I worked with, decide to use it for workshops with an Oxford Philomusica  Community Project at Northern House, and thinking more an more about the event I’d had in the back of my mind at The Reading Room.

I had hoped to hold this on July 4th but it was booked already for an Independence Day Barbecue by some people from the base.

I’d been fired up by the newspapers and thought of Gutenburg!

Here is some of what the Bodicote group did!

I’d also been looking at the images in the various newspapers and how they differed depending on the language and source.

I’d been making these replacement whist cards for the Reading Room Whist group to play with.

Instead of the suits they had images from the newspapers.

I ran these past the group crit on 26th May and it was decided that the Sports Direct logo was too loaded and i should put the image on the other side.

I’d considered that but decided to keep it as

the Sports Direct cards were so much  part of the Reading Room, along with the Union Jack, watercolour paintings of the village, Fosters glasses, plastic flowers and table cloths.

 All this imagery and the symbolism seemed to be really important.

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