Creative Working Lives

Public sector workers give voice to their experiences of working lives in times of cultural change.

A series of exhibitions and workshops sharing art work and letter writing, using “map and talk” to honour  key moments in the story of our working lives.
Joining together to look back creatively and therapeutically.
Group FacilitatorsMandy Rogers: Artist, Art Psychotherapist, Teacher, Supervisor, Writer   Steve Potter: Cognitive Analytic Therapist, .Chair of ICATA, Teacher, Supervisor.
Film Maker: Helen Wells

Art work by artist participants (clockwise)Mandy Rogers, Rupert Mallin, mary Littlefield and Bee Springwood

Introduction to Creative Working Lives Exhibition and workshop at Anteros Arts Centre, Norwich.

‘A relational aesthetic’

This is an open-ended dialogue, where you the viewers, the exhibiting artists and workshop participants all have an effect on the constitution of this artwork.

Driven by the frustrations of feeling unheard, and growing despair about the impact of cuts on the public sector, this began and evolved into a collaborative art form, now unfolding through a process of interaction, and includes artists, social workers, educators, nurses, writers, therapists and curators. Sharing a belief that a public ritual is called for to witness and honour individual experiences of profound change in a rapidly shifting culture.

It may be tempting to bracket this work as a kind of ‘outsider art’, as we are not all from mainstream art backgrounds. However, I argue that it is the antithesis, outsider art being made in isolation of mainstream society, driven by inner compulsion and raw aesthetic sensibility. Conversely, this work is about inclusion and dialogue. It embodies a ‘relational aesthetic’ – a term coined by Nicolas Bourriaud. Constituting the artwork are process, collaboration and exchange of ideas. Developing its own momentum, it is generating a context through which we can restore social significance and human connection. It is not just political activism, but an art practice with it’s own characteristics and effects.

Some times artists who work in this realm have parted entirely from the tradition of making physical objects. They argue that the art object is a static receptacle for ideas, lending itself to market driven values and ownership. However, in our case, made objects have become part of the dialogue, which includes meeting, making, words, image and film. With a dynamic physical presence, the objects inhabit the space with us, and have a multi-layered ‘voice’, adding depth, complexity and potency to the process.

Helen Well’s film has captured different layers of the project, physical, visual, verbal – in a sense allowing us to ‘overhear’ the conversations which evolved as part of a ritualistic process of meetings and workshops– Insulated from day to day life/roles – these have enabled us to communicate across personal and professional communities, and outside of the demands of our usual roles and relationships.

Mandy Rogers Artist/Project Facilitator 2015-2016


film link

Testimonials from Workshop Participants

  • These workshops feel empowering for teams and organizations. It is essential to be able to experiment with these thoughts and feelings.
  • This validates a response to cultural change that we haven’t got right yet.
  • Absorbing, thought provoking. Helped me connect with feelings about community and being supported.
  • The potential for collaboration being a powerful message to the ‘system’ and its leaders.
  • Felt listened to.
  • Creative Working Lives has a great energy.
  • I keep thinking of the shedding of oneself and the tenderness of renewal.
  • Struck by the theme of lost organization – that part of work that gave meaning,contained and processed fears, hopes and ambivalence about life itself. The group has provided something of this containment.
  • I enjoyed leaving excessive fear behind
  • My feelings were validated.
  • I felt calmer and less angry.
  • I loved the creativity.
  • It was a really great, valuable day.

The Creative Working Lives community has developed its own momentum and continues to thrive with revolving facilitators – currently Helen Wells and Rupert Mallin. Contact for more info.