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ARTIST WELLBEING

IN ACTION

Take a look at examples of Artist Wellbeing in action and to hear the Artists' experiences in their own words

ALL OF ME

Caroline Horton - 2018 to present day

Ways of Working:

  • Individual Artist Wellbeing sessions for Caroline (lead artist, writer, performer, subject)

  • Group session

  • Sessions for Caroline and Alex (Director)

Caroline's words:

Ursula Martinez

A Family Outing: 20 Years on - 2019

Ways of Working:

  • Primarily individual sessions for Ursula (Writer, Divisor, Subject)

  • Some family support

  • Team Support

  • Rehearsal & tour support

Here's what Ursula had to say:

"[Lou was] someone to talk to and lean on when the going got tough ... which it did.  The organic style worked for me. I don't know if this is how Lou works' generally, or if she was responding to an instinct around what works for me. Thanks Lou. It was a pleasure!"

THE SHAPE OF THE PAIN

Rachel Bagshaw, China Plate 2017-19

Ways of Working:

  • Primarily individual sessions for Rachel Bagshaw (director, subject & co-creator)

  • Individual support for Hannah (actor) and Rachel Lincoln (assistant director)

  • Group sessions and input for the whole Creative Team

  • R&D, rehearsal & tour support

Here's what Rachel Bagshaw had to say:

The show is a particularly challenging piece of work for me to make as we are drawing very actively on my own experience of pain, which in turn causes my pain levels to increase.  Lou’s involvement in the process has been vital to ensuring the safety of the work and provided an outlet for me to reflect on how to make the best possible show from my experiences. She creates a welcoming, safe space within which we have been able to talk freely about the process. I highly recommend her work to other artists where the work might require therapeutic support, and look forward to working with her again myself in the future.

SLOW VIOLENCE

Laura Ryder & Co - 2019

Ways of Working:

  • Facilitated a Group session for Creative Team to begin and close R&D week

  • Focused on Check In/Outs, Hopes & Fears & co-created a Working Wellbeing Manifesto

Laura's words:

As a company that hadn’t all worked together before the wellbeing support was an excellent way of opening up the space. Introducing a clear and practical method of checking in was an very useful tool for setting up the space daily. And also having an outside voice leading the debrief and the check in meant that all the artists were allowed to partake fully and honestly without one artist being the one to facilitate. [...] It was felt very much that a space lead by an external voice meant that we could be honest about the process and our experiences.

Maria's words:

I would like to see a more normalized approach to artist well-being and good mental health practice across the industry, and was very happy that as a company we can be advocates for this. [...]  I felt the team gelled more quickly together during the rehearsal week after having such an in-depth check-in with Lou on the very first day [...] Lou was so personable and friendly and made us feel at ease with what we were feeding back – even in a busy pub on a Saturday evening!

GRAND UNION

Birmingham, 2018

Ways of Working:

  • Facilitating a Group Session for the entire team working at the gallery

  • Exploring & sharing Be-Longings - inspirations & aspirations

  • Creating depthful and transparent connections

Jo Capper's (Collaborative Programme Curator) words:

Emotional, surprising, expected and unexpected, funny, tearful, wholeheartedness, belonging, transformative. Lou has a thoughtful, caring and intuitive response to working with a group and situation, she brings about a great momentum and honesty that settles and encourages genuine participation.

Alice O'Rouke

On a personal level, the workshop was a great chance for me to think about my professional progression – it was suitably apt that this session coincided with my first day at Grand Union so these thoughts were all very fresh in my mind; the workshop helped me to solidify my thoughts.

The workshop also opened my eyes to the wonderful team I’ll be working with – to undergo a therapy session with your colleagues certainly brings you closer so in this instance I found the workshop to be really positive for our collective relationships.

THE GIRL BEHIND THE GLASS

Chloe Knibbs & Co - 2018

"With 1 in 3 women across the world experiencing sexual assault, this piece explores the non-linear journey of sexual assault recovery. The piece also considers how society perceives these issues, and the effect that has on those who have experienced sexual assault. A multi-talented female trio of two singer-actors and a cellist use live music, movement and drama to explore recovery and shame, moving through a journey of denial, rejection and acceptance."

Ways of Working:

  • Group session prior to the rehearsal process to think about practical ways in which to work together in a safe, ethical and contained way that generates exciting and risk taking art

  • Individual sessions with Chloe (composer, director, subject)

Chloe's words:

Having Lou work on The Girl Behind the Glass  as an Artist Wellbeing Practitioner facilitated the opportunity for myself and the cast to create a space for discussion and exploration that genuinely felt safe and grounded. During the group session we explored our group dynamic and professional and personal connections to the project which allowed a better understanding of where we were all coming from. The "check in" and "check out" exercises, also explored during this session, were then used throughout the project to ground ourselves and reconnect (without being overwhelmed) to the sometimes distressing themes of the project. I feel that these exercises had a positive effect on the dynamic, and allowed us to balance the act of being artistically vulnerable with maintaining our own personal boundaries.

 

In addition, the individual sessions that I had with Lou leading up to the project developed a resilience that were useful once the rehearsal process had begun. There was a particularly poignant moment for me, when one of the singers was having voice issues, and I was able to relay some creative exercises around stress and the voice that Lou had shared with me. 

(image: Abigail Kelly & Suzie Purkis)

YVETTE

Urielle Klien-Mekongo, China Plate 2018

Based on a true story, Yvette is a one woman show with original music about a stolen childhood and growing up with a secret.

Ways of Working:

  • Individual tour support for Urielle (actor, writer, subject)

  • In person and video/phone support

Urielle's words:

BIRMINGHAM DANCE NETWORK

2018

Ways of Working:

  • Individual reflection and processing sessions for three independent dancers after a collaborative process & performance

  • Aims - to unburden, gain insight and personal perspective

Laura Vanhulle's words:

[after the session] I just had rehearsals and I had the most authentic productive rehearsal and knew exactly what to express! And why and how!! This was the most useful session of my life! I will be back.

MESS

Caroline Horton - 2017

Caroline Horton is a multi-award-winning artist who makes theatre and audio drama. She has written and toured a show called Mess based upon her own personal experiences living with an eating disorder. Caroline invited me to facilitate Both group & individual sessions were offered.

Ways of Working:

  • Artist Wellbeing sessions were offered in order to hold a space for emotional release and reflection when in the pressures of touring a show in the UK and Canada.

  • Both group and individual sessions were offered.

  • An "on call" service was offered so that the artist could connect when the need arose.

Caroline's words:

I definitely remained engaged with my self-care and wellbeing during the tour and I’m sure this is a result of my sessions with Lou. The sessions helped me talk through strategies for tackling problems in the company [...] and my own emotional ups and downs. I really appreciated having the group sessions as well as the phone calls in between. It felt like a really good balance between group and personal concerns. I felt very supported.

ROAD TO HUNSTVILLE

Stephanie Ridings - 2016

Ways of Working:

  • Individual Artist Wellbeing sessions for Stephanie (lead artist, writer, performer)

  • Focus on performance dynamics & overall relationship to artestry

Stephanie's words:

THE DARK ROOM

China Plate - 2015

The Darkroom invests in creative relationships rather than pieces of work and aims to give each company they work with space, time, and money to experiment, to rejuvenate, to enliven their processes and to grow creatively. 

Ways of Working:

  • Individual Artist Wellbeing sessions for the core artists

  • Group open space discussion exploring wellbeing in practice

ITA O'BRIEN

Does My Sex Offend You - R&D 2015

Ita explored themes of sexuality and sexual abuse in an R&D, shared at the Barbican Pit.

Ita has gone on to be an Intimacy Coordinator & Director, pioneering the creation of safe working practices when working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content and nudity.

Ways of Working:

  • Individual Artist Wellbeing sessions for Ita herself

  • Being in the rehearsal process at times to offer insight and support

KILN ENSEMBLE

2012-14

Ways of Working:

  • The company experienced critical conflict within the company structure. I was brought in to provide mediation and support. This progressed into being a monthly arrangement where a safe space was held for the company to explore and work through inevitable emotional narratives that unfold whilst running a theatre company.

Emily Ayre's words:

You were an incredible light when we needed guidance, kindness and warmth. Thank you so much for bringing in a new chapter with us.

Olivia Winteringham's words:

Thank you very much for holding us so that we could talk, think, listen and thank you for your honesty. Sometimes frightening but always vital.

ISHBEL & I

Julia Voce - 2014

Julia Voce’s 2014 solo piece ‘Ishbel and I’, explores Julia’s childhood and her family’s struggle with mental illness, in particular, her relationship with her sister Anne who lives with bi-polar disorder.

Ways of Working:

  • Julia invited me into the rehearsal process to offer support and guidance.  This helped her navigate personal experiences exploring the intimate, funny and often painful dynamics within her family whilst trying to balance the pressures of devising and putting on an original auto-biographical show. 

  • Individual & Group sessions

Julia's words:

Thanks for everything, Lou. The work with you was a truly invaluable part of the process.  I’ll definitely be in touch about working together in the future; I’ll keep you posted about the next wave of activity.