Radical Care

Duck egg blue mats cover a lino floor. They have white and black taped symbols all over. In the top right corner of the photo a person wearing a black jumpsuit kneels, facing away from the camera. They have bare feet. They are lifting a child in mustard yellow trousers up from a greeny-blue walking aid.Laura Bradshaw, SSW x Counterflows Caregivers Residency 2021. Film still: Laura Bradshaw

Together with Counterflows, we are proud to be one of six arts organisations across Scotland to receive funding as part of Creative Scotland’s new ‘Radical Care action research project’. The other organisations are Moniak Mhor, Hospitalfield, Barrowland Ballet, the Workroom and Puppet Animation Scotland.

This funding will support us to embed and sustain our unique SSW x Counterflows Caregivers residency programme, piloted in 2021 from several years of joyful inter/anti disciplinary residency collaboration with Counterflows

At SSW we have a broad understanding of caregiving. We recognise that caregiving can include caring for family (biological and chosen), caring for someone with a disability, formal and informal medical, mental health, or spiritual caregivers, and caregiving within community movements among other definitions and ‘types’ of care work. The demand for residency designed for artist-caregivers continues to be overwhelming so it is essential that this programme is sustained at SSW. 

Through running this residency and with support of the previous residency artists, several areas have become clear where we can improve and embed the support we offer artist-caregivers at SSW. Of course artists travelling with those they care for and often respite carers have different needs from artists travelling independently, as is traditionally the case for artist residency. In addition to this we have learned that the majority of applicants for the SSW x Counterflows Caregivers’ residency identify as disabled and/or neurodivergent themselves, clearly showing that the support we offer artist-caregivers must be flexible, bespoke and carefully co-designed with the artist in order to support their individual needs. 

Over the course of 2022 we plan to explore and develop our expertise in supporting artist-caregivers through the Radical Care fund with the following activity:

  1. We are looking forward to a second year of the funded SSW x Counterflows Caregiving Residency, this year supporting two artist-caregivers through our open, flexible and nourishing residency structure. Applications for this residency will be invited in April through an open call process. 

  2. We will create short information films to share what it is like to travel to SSW and work here. We hope these will help artists visualise the site, workshops and people here, hear the noises of the workshops, and understand what it is like to stay in Lumsden. We hope this will help artists identify their access needs and feel more confident in visiting us. We will be inviting notes of interest from filmmakers or artists for this work later this year. 

  3. We will be seeking training for our staff teams in supporting disabled artists, primarily around administration, Access to Work, application processes, and payment for their artwork within the current benefits system. This will help us better support disabled artists through all aspects of our work.

  4. We are planning a ‘Radical Care Systems lab’ in July, supported by a local researcher. This will be a gathering moment for carers and specialist care providers in Aberdeenshire to map and build systems of care in the local area. Through this we hope to create a more holistic approach to supporting artist-caregivers at SSW while also supporting our local care infrastructure here in Lumsden, through knowledge sharing and building connections. This was inspired by participation in the 2018 research trip to the Radical Childcare programme at Impact Hub Birmingham (now Civic Square).

We are so looking forward to developing this project over the coming year and improving our support for artist-caregivers at SSW.

As part of the wider action research project with Creative Scotland, we will be able to develop and share good practice – we welcome contact with anyone who is interested in this work or would like to connect on it. 

Please contact Jenny Salmean, Programme & Communications Manager on jenny@ssw.org.uk or call 01464 861372. 

We will be sharing more updates over the coming year here on the NEWS section of the website. 

Previous recipients of the SSW x Counterflows residency include Sholto Dobie, Letitia Pleiades, Laura Bradshaw, Chris Dooks and Hang Linton. Their input and feedback has been essential in developing the programme to this point over the past years – thank you!

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