22 On Now

Open Space

4th Nov 2019

How can we begin to take care of ourselves while working with, for and about others?

The second in an ongoing series of sessions to open up spaces for conversation around self-care.

What’s particularly special about this event is that we’ve timed it to coincide with our Madlove Take Over, an arts festival for mental health taking place throughout November. The festival brings local, national and international artists and communities together to make exhibitions, films and new performances for a pop-up space in central St Helens – all aimed at supporting people’s mental health.

The session will be hosted in the Madlove Takeover Space, and will include a guided tour by one of our festival hosts.

Recent reports note the impact ‘low pay, a lack of work-life balance, limited opportunities for career development and the ongoing pressure to do more with less’ is having on the ‘cultural workforce’, especially artists and freelance workers. A situation that is leading to an ‘increasingly high’ risk of burnout.

The precarious nature of freelance work, a lack of on-going support and the emotional and physical toll of working with communities facing incredible hardship often compounds these effects on individual artists. Especially when collaborative and social arts practice is increasingly being asked to replace the social structure of our society.

Despite current conditions, there remains a notable lack of recognition of the importance of self-care practices inside and outside the workplace. According to Suzanne Alleyne, this is partly down to the attitude that ‘you are getting to do something you love, with the implication being: accept the negative stuff that comes with that. We know you have to work longer hours than your contract says and that you often get paid less than the corporate sector. And yet there is a prevailing ‘look what a nice time you’re having’ attitude…’

How, in difficult times for artists and communities, might we:

begin to work in solidarity across disciplines and sectors to achieve the kinds of conditions that make our work have real impact?

resist short-term funding, the cultural equivalent of zero hours contracts and insist arts and cultural organisations recognise the time it takes to build up trust and make meaningful and truly collaborative work?

find the right balance between empathy and self-care?

As cuts to funding begin to impact even more severely on communities and artists working with them, we invite you to join us for Open Space to explore notions of care.

The session is for anyone who is artistically engaged in social and collaborative arts practice; it will be facilitated by Chrissie Tiller (Creative Consultant and Practitioner) and Emma Fry (Criticality Producer, Heart of Glass), with a provocation by artist Sheila Ghelani.

Please find full biographies below.


The Madlove Take Over Space

Unit 2 - The Hardshaw Centre Church Street, St Helens, WA10 1EB

Support with costs of travel and/or childcare available

Please get in touch if you need support with the cost of travel and/or childcare.

Facilitator Biographies

Chrissie Tiller

Chrissie Tiller is a passionate writer, thinker, teacher, and practitioner with a lifetime’s history of working through collaborative and social practice: particularly in cross-cultural and trans-national contexts and with places undergoing social, economic and political change. Her recent think piece for Creative People and Places, Power Up, explores the current state of collaborative arts practice: including examining notions of privilege, cultural capital, politics, personal values and ethics in bringing about cultural democracy and social justice.

Sheila Ghelani

Sheila’s work spans performance, installation, participatory event and moving image. She is very interested in hybridity (informed by her own mixed heritage) and the practice of medicine and care. In the summer of 2017 she worked in St Helens with residents of Parr Mount Court and Heald Farm Court to make Getting To Know You a project which resulted in 260 china teacups (decorated with a pattern designed by the residents) being gifted to everyone in each of the schemes, and a set of three posters. She is currently sharing Common Salt, her performance made in collaboration with artist Sue Palmer, in museums, galleries, libraries and arts spaces across the UK. She is currently sharing Common Salt - a collaboration with artist Sue Palmer - in museums, libraries and art spaces, and working on An Invitation To… for Peterborough Presents.