Women, Wellbeing and Community

Women, Wellbeing and Community

June 2012

This arts based research project was undertaken in partnership with the Regional Refugee Forum North East, Purple Rose Stockton and film maker Janice Haaken. We sought to explore ways of seeing women’s lived experiences, well-being and sense of community in the context of their lives in the Teesside. The research builds upon previous collaborative work on ‘Race, Crime and Justice’ in the North East that was funded by the Ministry of Justice, Durham University, Northumbria and Teesside Universities. 

We used walking, storytelling and visual/photographic and filmic  methods to help make visible asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented women’s lived experiences of living in Middlesbrough, Stockton and Hartlepool and what community and community safety mean to them. Participatory arts (PA) and participatory action research (PAR) methods were used to conduct a critical recovery of women’s lives and experiences. Story walks helped to create individual and collective narratives about what it is like to be a new arrival, an asylum seeker or refugee and for some women a refused asylum seeker. Lacking the papers or the documentation required by officials, asylum seekers rely on their storytelling capacities. Even with fragments of documentation, asylum seekers rely on the power of the stories to move official listeners.


Watch 'Searching for Asylum' on YouTube.

Community, Politics and Resistance in  DTES Vancouver

Community, Politics and Resistance in DTES Vancouver

June 2011

Inter-urban Gallery, DTES, Vancouver.


The research was funded by the British Academy, conducted with Prof.Philip Stenning,  supported by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, the Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University and documented by AHA Media.

This ethnographic, community arts based research conducted  in downtown eastside Vancouver (skid row)  2010-2011 explored  and documented  ‘community’ through the eyes of the inhabitants - the binners, sex workers, street vendors and artists struggling to make out in circumstances not of their choosing. One dominant theme in the research - the struggle for recognition – emerges against depictions that categorise and record residents as abject, ‘other’ and ‘different’.

This research project sought to explore in partnership with local agencies ways of seeing the spaces and places of community through the eyes of DTES residents and workers, using participatory action research (PAR) and participatory arts (PA). This research built upon Stenning’s photographs of DTES in 2002 and 2008. The principles underpinning PAR and PA are: inclusion, participation, valuing all local voices, community driven and sustainable outcomes. Community co-researchers based in each organisation worked with Maggie to conduct the research and supported the creation of visual representations of ‘community’. This group formed the research team and authored the report and articles.