other selves started out as an art research project that took place between October 2016 and February 2017 as part of my MA in Inclusive Arts Practice at the University of Brighton. My research question was ‘what would happen when an artist and a mother play together, on their own terms?’. I was interested in how we would find the space and the time to develop a creative practice together, and how the ‘playing together’ would evolve, through negotiations and collaborations, with each other and with the materials and objects we would feel inspired to work with.
Three women responded to my ‘call out for participants’ through leaflets distributed around Brighton, in September 2016, that began: are you a mother? I met each participant for a coffee or tea at the University for an informal chat about the project and what commitment it would require. I also explained that a participant was free to leave the project at any point without needing to give an explanation or reason.
Over the next five months I met with each participant, one-to-one, once a week: on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, at times convenient to us and in places ‘wherever possible’. We worked in various spaces in the University, in community centres and in cafes. I want to thank all the women who have worked with me on the ‘other selves’ project so far; they always showed up: with ideas, stories and material for us to work with. I was deeply moved by their dedication to the project and by their commitment and immersion in our creative collaborations.
During those months you might even have caught a glimpse of us, taking time out from our role as mothers to play on our own terms, connecting to each other and to the other parts of our selves, through art-making. We made stop-motion film and live-action films, performance-to-camera pieces, ‘played with’ a whole range of materials and transformed objects. Beautiful worlds were created, rich with stories of our place in the family, our place in the world.
But first we needed to begin….
“Armed with tools filling a small 1950’s vanity case to the brim: glue and brushes, scissors and black pens, tippex, silver and gold pens…coloured pens and paints and then also photocopies: of ourself as a child; of ourself at a time before we had a child when we felt happy and fulfilled, doing something we enjoyed ‘back then’ before we became a mother; images, lots of images of things that we love: that inspire us; that we are curious about….we begin.
We sit together in any available space and we share our pictures, share our stories. We sit close-by a photocopier and make new images; new combinations….joining and collaging our pictures/stories together.
We work into, altering, a booklet from the National Trust.
Trust is how we begin.”
© Alice Lunt 2016: extract from otherselves research blog (private)
Each collaboration began with several sessions of making these collages and/or working into and over the national trust booklet, with lots of talking, before developing along it’s own particular trajectory depending on where our experiences intersected, in the stories we shared, and the way in which that in turn prompted the choice of materials and ways of working.