On 10th May 2017, I went to a residential home which temporarily houses people recently discharged from psychiatric hospitals, much like a halfway house before giving the residents support to find their own place to live after 6 months. I organised a workshop during Mental Health Awareness Week, where I did worked with people living in the house using my own art practice as a vehicle.
Here, I started off my talking about my art practice and what most interests me, and then I did my performance piece as an experiment to see whether they would be drawn in or engaged with the work. The more interested they became, the more comfortable I felt in the space. They then had a go at manipulating the material, and it was really interesting to see how differently they approached the material compared to me.
One participant treated the lard like an alien object, and eventually just held the material delicately in their hands until the lard started to melt and drip onto the surface:The material became a comfort for her to hold, and she opened up far more and started talking about how she felt whilst she was holding the lard. She explained that the lard became soft and warm, and felt comforting. The participant was then noticeably more relaxed, and started to discuss her struggle with anxiety, along with her past life she is desperate to get back to.