A reflection piece from Barbara on the workshop phase through the lens of Covid-19:
'It’s like I’ve got a new pair of eyes. I am seeing everything differently. As I am considering what to do next with my project Detangling The Knots, I am also looking back at the last live phase of the project when we did workshops. How to write about the workshops without considering the new circumstances Covid-19 has brought us? Everything we did in the project so far would now seem impossible: visiting research laboratories and running workshops (in real life) with people who have dementia. All these involve physical proximity and closeness with people which is now dangerous and illegal. This is such a strange but important realisation to have.
It feels like I have to reconfigure the project to suit our new reality so that it is relevant. I had chosen to focus on dementia as it was such an urgency in terms of neuroscience research. So many people were living with the condition that it was essential to try and understand its mechanisms with view to find a cure. Things feel extremely different now that the focus has shifted.
The next phase of the project was going to be an exhibition at Red House Museum in Christchurch with a large crochet installation that people were going to be able to walk into. Sensory involvement is really important to my work. This is why I love working with wool and crochet because you can touch it. How can I translate this sensory aspect digitally? How does touch feel like as a concept now that touching is dangerous?
So many things are different but so many things feel clearer. One of the aim of the workshops was to offer a space where bonding and connections were possible. Now that we have lost the physical space and that we can’t sit next to each other, how can we still offer possible bonding through non-physical means? This is what my collaborators and I have been discussing. How do I make the project relevant? How do we reach people who are vulnerable at the moment? What does it feel like to have dementia at the moment?
I am thinking about the Centre For Health where we did our Rushmoor workshops, how are things for them right now? What are their working conditions? How are they keeping in touch with their most vulnerable patients in the Older People Unit?
Looking at the photos, I notice how close we were all sitting, how small the room was, how the hands we were using to make art are now key sites for infection and contagion. I notice the quiet cosy feeling of being in a room with other people. It used to be so simple and normal, so precious now.'