What do artists think about working on our exhibition?

Here’s what Anna Bean and Rob Mackay had to say about their experience of co-creating the Bringing Breathlessness into View exhibition.

Anna Bean: I’ve found it really positive being an artist on this project. I’ve really enjoyed working on a project connected to the university, because of the ongoing nature of it and because it is related to your research. It’s really great to be involved in a project that has such purpose, that’s so connected to how people can have a better quality of life. It’s made me more aware of things that I wasn’t aware of and made me look at health issues in a different way.

I think it’s really interesting working with people in a collaborative process. The idea of working with people and making something together. Every image has a different quality. Some of them were almost all made by the participant, like the collage ones which were clearly inspired by the collages they made in the workshop.

But other ones like the haunted house was kind of like a conversation between me and Sue who was really into reading ghost stories. That collaborative process was really interesting! I had fun making the haunted house one. That sort of doll’s house thing and a wintry outside… There were a lot of elements that went into that one-the woman carrying the shopping and the shadow. There’s a lot of little stories going on in there…

Also it was interesting making something in the really long format to fit on the pop-up banners, that was something I’d not done before. I feel proud of the artwork for this project-I’ve put it on my website! I do feel proud of it, I feel like there was a quality to the images due to how we all worked together in them.  It was a great thing to have done and now I’m doing something else with another researcher from the university.

Rob Mackay: I genuinely enjoyed working on the project! I loved the inclusive nature of it and the co-created aspect. I feel like I learnt a lot about the co-creation process working with Anna in which we worked with people living with breathlessness and got their own creative ideas and supported them to produce the exhibition. It opened my eyes to what it is like living with breathlessness and the impact it has on their lives. Also to their coping strategies and how resilient they are. I was so impressed and humbled by how honest they were about their innermost thoughts and feelings.

I remember the sound collages that we made. I was very much thinking about the sound being a supporting material for the visual works. I tried to be reasonably subtle with the sound design. Peter very kindly agreed to be recorded walking up and down stairs to get the sound of his breathing for us to hear how breathless he was and to get across a sense of the difficulty of an activity that most people don’t even think about. I was pleased with the underlying level of tension that provided in the recording to underscore all the difficulties people shared about their invisible symptom.

This project links with the work I have done before with words and sound in making creative sound collages. In future work I would like to do more of the sculpting of the soundscapes to mirror the surrealist collage stuff that Anna creates and it would be lovely to work with Anna again. This was my first project working on a health dimension and I’d really be interested to see what else I could bring to other projects in this area.

Visit the websites of Anna Bean and Rob Mackay to find out more about their wonderful work.

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