Climate craftivism in the classroom

Climate Craftivism in the Classroom’ is a project that aimed to investigate how creative pedagogies and activities in schools could open up and support conversations about climate change for young people across different areas of secondary school curricula.

For this project, a team of researchers at the University of Bristol’s School of Education partnered with Kirsty Hammond from a local community organisation, Heart of BS13, which is based in Hartcliffe in South Bristol and local artist and puppeteer, Stephanie Reeves. Through Heart of BS13 community work, Kirsty and Steph had developed and run climate craftivist puppet-making workshops in primary schools around of South Bristol. This Brigstow-funded project aimed to build on this work and to tailor craftivism workshops for secondary school setting and trial them in schools around Bristol. The focus of these workshops was around how climate change may affect ocean environments, with sea life then being the stimulus for puppet-making workshop. We also worked with film company Pumpkin Interactive who filmed some of the workshops to create content for a toolkit for teachers.

What is craftivism and why use it in the classroom?

Craftivism, a term coined by Betsy Greer in 2002, combines the terms ‘craft’ and ‘activism’, and describes an act of creation, or making something, which is motivated by social justice or political activism (Greer 2014). For Rowsell and Shillitoe (2019, p.1158), craftivist pedagogy has the potential for “giving voice, defending rights, expanding autonomy and perhaps mostly importantly, opening up possibilities for young people.” We felt that puppet-making was a particularly useful pedagogical tool, as it allowed the students to engage with complex issues in a creative way that creates space for conversation during the making process. Indeed, Kröger and Nupponen (2019, p. 394) have identified multiples benefits of puppet-making as pedagogical tools, including generating communication and changing attitudes. In the process, we found another important use of the puppet was that it allowed students to express their views through another creature. By speaking through their sea creature, students were able to communicate things that they may not choose to or feel comfortable saying  for themselves. In this way, Rousell and Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles’ (2020) call for young people to have ‘a voice and a hand’ in redressing climate change guided our approach – both metaphorically and literally!

The workshop design process

Steph and Kirsty’s existing puppet-making workshop was taken as the basis for this project’s workshops and the team collaboratively developed it for suitability for a secondary school classroom. Firstly, weheld a trial session with trainee teachers (primarily from English and Geography),education students and their tutors in the School of Education. The participants got stuck in and came up with some wonderfully creative sea creatures, along the way providing  lots of ideas as to how to make the session appropriate for a secondary school classroom.

A group of young adults playing with handmade animal puppets
Trial workshop with teachers-to-be in the School of Education

The school workshops

We ran the workshop in six secondary schools around Bristol, engaging a wide variety of demographics. In all of the workshops, once the students began making, the room filled with a buzz of energy. The vast majority of participants appeared engaged in the task and seemed to take pride in what they made. During the making process, conversations flourished. After completing their puppets, students were invited to write a message from their sea creature to humans. They were also encouraged to use their hand puppets to talk to one another’s sea creatures and share their thoughts about climate change. Some of these puppet shows were recorded by our videographers and will be made available soon!

a group of children in a classroom showing their handmade animal puppets to the camera.
The puppets made in one of the school workshops.
A selection of some of the sea creature puppets made by the students, and their messages.
A selection of some of the sea creature puppets made by the students, and their messages.

Sharing the message

A key feature of craftivism is communicating a message. After creating their puppets,  students had the opportunity to have them displayed at Sparks, the sustainability hub in the old M&S building in Broadmead. This meant their messages reached a wider audience and the students were able to visit the display over the summer holidays.

Posters and handmade puppets displayed on a gallery wall

Next steps

We are now working on the production of the toolkit for teacher to use to run craftivism sessions in their own classrooms. This will include a video guide and resources to use in the lesson. We are also writing up a journal article about our research. Finally, we are in the process of developing applications for future funding, possibly through the ESRC Impact Accelerator Account in order to share this project more widely and make the resources for teachers even better.

We hope that craftivism will be used as a tool in Climate Change Education (CCE) to support teachers and young people in having conversations to explore their thoughts and feelings around climate change, providing a supportive and engaging space to collaborate and discuss the changes they want to see. By giving the students a voice in CCE we hope to give them a sense of agency.


  • Greer, B. (2011) “Craftivist History” In Buszek, M. E. (Ed.). Extra/ordinary : craft and contemporary art. Duke University Press, pp.175-183.
  • Kröger, T., & Nupponen, a. (2019). Puppet as a Pedagogical Tool: A Literature Review. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 11, 1-14.
  • Rousell, D., & Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, A. (2020). A systematic review of climate change education: Giving children and young people a ‘voice’ and a ‘hand’ in redressing climate change. Children’s Geographies, 18(2), 191-208.
  • Rowsell, J., & Shillitoe, M. (2019). The craftivists: Pushing for affective, materially informed pedagogy. British journal of educational technology, 50(4), 1544-1559.



The time it takes: A reflection on academia and activism

What can academia add to activism? Can academia add anything to activism at all? Or, perhaps, the question ought to be: should academia want to add anything to activism? In my research, I often ask myself these questions.

Focusing on the context of Latin America, I study how human rights activists use visual culture to mobilise their claims in the public sphere. As part of this work, I have often interviewed activists: I have visited their homes, seen their personal and collective archives, and shared stories with them about how we see the world before us. The generosity of the people I have met along the way has always moved me. The activists I have been lucky to encounter and talk to have been open and giving with both their archives and experiences. Regardless of the kind of human rights issue they represented, and how intimately affected they were by these, they always gave me the sense that their embodied knowledge and experience belonged to and in the public realm. Activism, after all, only makes sense in public. In my conversations with activists, academia was often understood to be part of that public sphere, despite its potential flaws in access that we face. Is it important, then, to think of ourselves in this way, as being, first and foremost, part of a public?

Faced with their openness, I have often asked myself what my research was able, or unable, to give back. The art of activism is often made for and in the moment: it responds to the urgency of the claimants in the now. Time, perhaps, is a fundamental difference between academia and activism. Academia responds to a different kind of time-frame, it is produced in the service of an extended temporality. While such is the nature of our research, the long application processes for funding and publishing are a further inescapable reality that places us in a different temporal plane to activists. As a result, we are potentially asking questions in our research that align with this inescapable reality in our profession, but that drive us away from the urgency of the moment. Is our timescale of doing things as academics sitting uncomfortably with the immediacy that activism has conquered in the last decade or so, especially amidst a globalised social media? Do we need to find ways to align ourselves with the activist temporality in order to research activism?

Further to this, what does it mean to produce academic research around a time-sensitive issue? Do the expectations or pressures in our profession place limitations on us in this sense? As I now venture into researching visual culture produced by activists who are responding to the climate crisis in different ways, time, or the lack thereof, is increasingly becoming a more prevalent theme in my research. While I do not pretend to offer solutions here, I do suggest we do not shield ourselves from these questions. In feminist methodological fashion –especially when faced with pressing, fast-moving realities– we do have a responsibility to be vulnerable to the potential difficulties of what we do, regardless of whether we decide to challenge them, work with them, or perhaps discover the kinds of questions that our timescales serve best.

Nevertheless, does academic research necessarily owe a response to the activist politics we study? And is this question one of time, or ethics? As academics in a post-structuralist tradition, we have moved away from thinking in a binary logic. In fact, we are, I think, quite suspicious of binary terms: it is in between categories that our minds feel comfortable, logical. Activism, on the contrary, commits, one way or another. The message is simplified in the service of political change and the ideal for the future. We are, in a way, speaking in different languages. Different ways of writing, after all, beget different ways of thinking. The challenge, I suppose, is in discovering the ways in which thinking differently can become a shared thinking; a shared responsibility over the public in common that both academia and activism belong to.

Everything takes time. It takes time to produce and publish research. It takes time to think of other creative ways we might communicate our research to others. It takes time to consider and navigate the ethics of what we do, especially when it involves others in other contexts. It can also take time for activists to see fundamental transformations through the work that they do in any given moment. It takes time for awareness to build, for a law to be passed or for perceptions to change. Can we make the time it takes count?




Brigstow Data Researcher

We are looking for a researcher with a background in social science or humanities and with both qualitative and quantitative skills.

This project would be particularly suitable for a researcher who has an interest in interdisciplinarity, co-produced methods and creative approaches but is essentially a data analysis role.

What would I be expected to do?

Review the information held on the ~230 projects funded by Brigstow since it started funding projects in early 2016. This is mostly held in a database but would also involve reviewing web content as well.

You would work with the Director and Manager of the Brigstow Institute to design the approach and then the analysis itself of information, particularly drawing out key areas from the text provided by the projects and an analysis of the funding that directly benefited sectors beyond the university (e.g. artists, community organisations, cultural sector organisations). We are looking in particular to segment the data according to a number of parameters and to look at where there are overlaps/ synergies/ patterns in topics/ methods/ collaborators etc.

The approach will then be used in subsequent years by the Brigstow team so should be robust and easily implemented by non-experts. It will also be used to report on the range of projects, disciplinary foci and the level of funding going to individuals and organisations beyond the university.

We expect this would be funded research activity between Jan- March 2024. We have initial funding to cover 60 hours of time but can be very flexible about how this is allocated over this time period. You would, however, be expected to attend some meetings during standard office hours during this period. The hourly pay rate for this role is £18.12 (plus holiday pay if registered via TSS).


This opportunity is open to all students who are currently registered at the University of Bristol to undertake an:

  • Eligible postgraduate research degree:
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Professional doctorate (EdD, EngD, DEdPsych, MD, DDS)
  • Master’s degree by research (MMus, MPhil or MScR)
  • Eligible postgraduate taught degree:
  • Master of research (MRes)

Those registered for other taught masters (e.g. MA, MSc) are not eligible.

If you are successful, in order to be paid you will have to provide proof that you have the right to work in the UK.

How do I apply? The closing date is 10am Friday 5th January. Please apply by sending the following to

a) an outline of your suitability for the role (max one side of A4)

Please make sure you include the following:

  • Your name
  • The title of your PhD project
  • The name of your PhD Supervisor(s) and which department they are based in
  • What skills and knowledge you can offer the project

b) a short CV to support this (max one side of A4)

  • Your name
  • A short description of your educational background and work experience
  • Any other relevant information

Any information in excess of the page limits will be removed before your application is assessed.

Embracing the Interconnected wonders of Collard Hill: Academics, Artists, Activists and (Neo-)Aurelians come together to see the Large Blue Butterfly

“We’re going on a butterfly hunt, we’re going to (digitally) catch a large one!”

In the childhood storybook ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen, a family stride through long grass, wade through a river and squelch through sticky mud on an adventure. In this blog, I tell the story of our own adventure, one summers’ day in mid-June, treading up steep hills, walking along paths amongst long grass and sitting in wildflower meadows to find the Large Blue butterfly;  once extinct in the UK and now listed as one of Europe’s most endangered insect species.

We meet on Collard Hill, Somerset, amongst the trees, stinging nettles, and decomposing bark as a group of 16 academics, artists, activists and budding (neo-)aurelians. Most of us are strangers to each other and have limited knowledge of butterflies, including the Large Blue. So, to kick off the day spent roaming the countryside butterfly ‘hunting’ (in the sense of searching and potentially photographing rather than capturing), special guest , Patrick Barkham tells us the tale of the Maculinea arion, or Large Blue

The Story of the Large Blue

The Large Blue butterfly is a fascinating species with an intricate life cycle that depends on specific circumstances to flourish. As a caterpillar, the Large Blue throws itself from the leaves of wild thyme where it has hatched and fed on developing seeds. Falling onto the ground, it attracts foraging red ants with it’s sweet secretions and is then taken into their nest; it disguises itself amongst the ants and then gorges on the unsuspecting ant grubs to grow into a blue-black butterfly.

This deceptive but enchanting butterfly was once considered to be extinct in the United Kingdom but made a triumphant comeback after dedicated research and conservation efforts, led by Jeremy Thomas and supported by numerous conservation groups and charities.

a group of individuals standing in a circle in a woodland

As Patrick shared the mysterious life of the Large Blue and re-told the history of Collard Hill as the site where Swedish Large Blue caterpillars were re-introduced to England in 1983, four years after being declared extinct, the story of this butterfly revealed the interconnectedness of life and the contradictions of conservation. Through the sections below, I convey how during this outing we were frequently reminded that our quest was not just about a solitary species; but a thriving eco-system that beckons us to embrace multi-species and multi-sensory attentiveness at this time of planetary crisis.

Collard Hill

As we set off in search of the Large Blue, we tread the flattened grass path to the top of the hill. The infused aromas of wild thyme and suncream fill the air, attracting not only butterflies but a myriad of other pollinators. The gentle rustling of grasses and chatter of human voices form a melodic chorus.

The Large Blue butterfly’s existence depends on maintaining the delicate balance of habitat and ant interactions. Conservation efforts on Collard Hill and other protected sites since the 1970s, managed or owned by partner organisations including the National Trust, Somerset and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trusts, J & F Clark Trust, Natural England and the University of Oxford, have been instrumental in ensuring the successful re-introduction of this species to the UK.

Conservationists, researchers, and local communities have collaborated for decades to gain a deeper understanding of both the butterfly and ant species’ needs. Through careful management of grassland eco-systems, controlled grazing, and habitat monitoring and restoration, these efforts have successfully increased the butterfly’s population. However, increasingly warming temperatures causing droughts, continue to threaten the Large Blue species and the web of flora and fauna they rely upon.

Nevertheless, visiting Collard Hill, especially at this time of year, offered a unique opportunity to witness the Large Blue butterfly first-hand. A sense of hope hangs in the air.

Close looking

We venture to where the Large Blue has been sighted before. We pass other butterfly enthusiasts who have travelled great distances to spot the Large Blue. “Let the butterflies come to you” says Ray Barnettof Collections and Archives at Bristol Museums and expert on British insect life. So, we each find a quiet place to perch, and sit separately atop a steep grassy slope, waiting.

The prickliness of the dry grass tickles my legs and back as I nestle in amongst it. Appreciating a moment of quiet contemplation in the sunshine I try to ignore how sitting on the dry ground is somewhat uncomfortable, both for me and (probably) for the Large Blue larvae awaiting collection by ants. Many butterflies fill the air around me, mostly orangey Meadow Browns or striking black and white, Marbled Whites. I hear chatter in the distance about moths, other butterfly species and looking closely.

Close looking, explain artists Sophie Mellor and Simon Poulter from Close and Remote, is a practice which involves focusing the attention whilst being open to the unexpected. It emphasises paying attention to certain aspects of the environment whilst exploring more complex systemic issues. It encourages thinking about ecological crises on different scales and is, therefore, a crucial aspect of the larger project this outing is part of, titled, “From the Personal to the Planetary: Interaction, Activism and the Future”.

The ‘From the Personal to Planetary’ (P2P) initiative is a 2 year project led by the University of Bristol’s Brigstow and Cabot research institutes which seeks to bring academics, artists and activists together through research-related activities regarding the environment and climate change. The potential of this project is for collaborative and creative thinking about ecological challenges through different scales (personal to planetary) and across disciplinary boundaries. Looking for the Large Blue was an experiment in what aspects of the P2P project could become: unexpected encounters between people and environments that provide possibility.

Sitting here looking out across miles of Somerset countryside, farm buildings and a network of winding roads, close looking seems a difficult task. In this moment, a common Meadow brown butterfly flies towards me and sits on the frame of my glasses. I stay as still as possible, feeling the tension in my muscles increase, noticing the sharpness of the grass against my skin once more, straining my eyes to see this creature that really is close. And then it’s gone.

individuals sitting on the side of a hill looking at a large flat view across fields

Catching the Large Blue in a ‘digital net’

Whispers of sightings of the Large Blue are carried by the wind. One small butterfly flutters passed me and settles. I am drawn to it and peer closer between the flowers and leaves at the edge of the footpath to see a small, grey butterfly with small spots across its wings. Is this the Large Blue?

If it is, it is deceptive by name and nature.

Instinctively, I get out my phone and start taking a video. Seeing now through human-camera zooming in, the bright blue tinge on the butterfly’s wing is illuminated. Before too long, the (rather small) Large Blue shifts its wings to lift itself into the air and away.

I confirm my sighting of the Large Blue with Ray and show Sophie the photographs I have taken. She suggests that I have caught it in my ‘digital net’ and I reflect upon histories of butterfly hunting which contributed to many butterfly species’ decline and/or extinction. I convey to Ray my surprise at there being so many butterflies here today. He does not feel the same. In fact, he informs me that . We talk about the contradictions of the farming landscape sitting alongside this conservation area – as habitat loss is a key contributing factor to butterfly numbers dwindling – and he recalls times-gone-by when many more butterflies would have been common in peoples’ gardens and lives.

A blue butterfly with black dots sitting on lilac flowers

Under the oak tree

Getting out of the scorching sun of the grassy slope, we all gather under a grand oak tree. Contorting our bodies once more to sit on the uneven ground, amongst the tree roots, we graze on the vegetarian picnic provided. Simon invites us to share our reflections and provocatively channels discussion toward the conservation efforts on the site.

Munching on sweet, sugary biscuits shaped like butterflies we collectively question why the Large Blue has been the focus of our visit and of conservation? Are we drawn to beauty? Or perhaps scarcity? What gets forgotten, displaced, neglected? Who has access, agency, and attention?

Curiosities about power and access become interlaced with memories of child/adult-hoods with/out ‘nature’. These conversations seemed to light fires in people, igniting possibilities for disrupting who gets to decide what species are worth saving; to challenge who gets access to such spaces; and to look toward future activities for the P2P initiative. The Large Blue had given us a way in, a way to think about the simultaneous potential and problematic contradictions of conservation, ecological protection, and environmental uncertainty.

Embracing Interconnectedness

The story of the Large Blue on Collard Hill reminds us of the fragile balance that exists in our natural world and the interconnectedness of all species that inhabit it. Thinking-with the Large Blue enabled a group of unknown but interested activists, academics, artists and (neo-)aurelians to come together to spot this majestic creature. The productive and provocative discussions amongst this group also highlighted the interconnectedness of environmental challenges which require us to think across different scales, look closely and question openly. It is hoped that over the next 2 years, the ’From the Personal to the Planetary’ (P2P) initiative will continue to link academics at the University of Bristol with artists, activists, and communities to do just that: to embrace interconnectedness.

a biscuit shaped like a butterfly


Peasant and Popular Feminism: Co-constructing Peace and Sustainability

Deep in the rural heartlands of central Colombia, in territories wracked with violent conflict for decades, women have kept fields flourishing and communities alive. Campesino (peasant) existence in the Middle Magdalena hinges on a history of struggle (Ferro and Tobón, 2012; Molano, 2009). These natural resource rich lands have been at the centre of territorial battles between various armed actors for generations. Conflict has consisted of territorial control over oil reserves, gold mines and coca crops, at the expense of tropical rainforests teeming with jaguars, Colombian red howlers and South American tapirs. In this delicate and volatile landscape, campesinos have settled and sustained their communities on the banks of the river Magdalena, the country’s fluvial artery. Many are victims of displacement from other regions. Nevertheless, they continue to live under the constant threat of land dispossession amongst many other uncertainties.

The high levels of violence, disappearances, displacement and historic campesino resistance in the Middle Magdalena has been heavily researched; however, the role of women campesinos is comparatively absent. The need to explore and recognise the particular importance of women in sustaining these communities, lands and families inspired the project: ‘Peasant and Popular Feminism: Co-constructing Peace and Sustainability’. We were also influenced by the Latin American campesino feminist movement in La Vía Campesina, ideas from which informed the projects concept of feminism and women’s agency. In turn we aimed to contribute a more grounded understanding of peasant and popular feminism amidst conflict in the Middle Magdalena.

Supported by the Brigstow Institute, our team conducted research with the women of the Zona de Reserva Campesina (Peasant Reserve Zone)- Valle del Río Cimitarra (ZRC-VRC).[1] Framed by an ethos of feminist activist-research, the project was co-constructed with leading women activists from the Asociación Campesina Valle del Río Cimitarra (ACVC)- the main peasant organisation in the ZRC-VRC. The aims were to explore the role of these activists in various socio-political organisations, within community projects and on their farms. We established that it was necessary to highlight the work many women are doing collectively and individually to support the construction of feminist pathways to peace. The project interweaves women’s ideas, histories and practices from the ZRC-VRC, which together express local peasant and popular feminisms. These feminisms are rooted in peace, in female economic and social autonomy, in community, in family, in environmental well-being, in the guardianship of traditional cultivation and medicinal knowledge, and against domestic violence.

The location of the ZRC-VRC (ACVC et al, 2012, p.21), which is composed of the municipalities of Cantagallo, San Pablo, Bolivar and Remedios in the departments of Antioquia and Bolivar.

Feminist Pathways to Peace

Women’s knowledge, their strength and importance has been undervalued the world over. This is no less true in the Middle Magdalena region, where traditional gender roles that confine women to the domestic sphere and caring duties are prevalent. Only too frequently, women are considered and consider themselves first and foremost as mothers and homemakers. Consequently, many interview participants responded to questions about their roles on farms and communities as “firstly, I am a housewife, I look after the family and the home”.

As well as mothers, carers and housewives, however, numerous women also occupy leadership roles in their communities as presidents of local community councils, participants in women’s committees, catalysts of informal economies, and guardians of traditional or organic agricultural knowledge. One of the local leaders reflected: “women are always the ones who are pushing forwards, the ones that are there to accompany [processes], and to lead”. Many of these women arrived in the Middle Magdalena as victims of displacement due to the conflict. Nevertheless, they have built strong connections not only between themselves but also to their land and territory. They are pioneering pathways to alternative development through their farms but also collectively through women’s committees.

Between February and July 2023, we visited women’s committees in two municipalities in the ZRC-VRC (San Pablo and Cantagallo). These municipalities are home to the ZRC-VRC’s most active committees, which work on ward level development to organise and connect women to specific economic projects. Women’s committees begun in 2005 in the municipality of San Pablo, Bolivar, but they had more cultural objectives, as they were spaces for sewing and dancing. There are currently 25 women’s committees in the ZRC-VRC, which have now become hubs in which women come up with project ideas, apply for funding and then administer economic projects together.

The rural ward of La Victoria in Cantagallo, Bolivar, has the most emblematic women’s committee, which began a local convenience shop in 2007. This has been a resounding success and important source of income for the women in this zone, which heavily relies on earnings from coca and mining. A leading campesina from la Victoria’s women’s committee recounted how they fought for recognition with their male partners and within their communities to lead this project, “but ever since we set up our women’s committee and the shop, we changed our lives a little”. This has been an example not only within the community, as a younger generation of women in La Victoria are preparing to open another shop, but also in neighbouring wards, as the women’s committee in La Palua has started an agro-input store.

Another key collective project led by various women’s committees is ‘hen laying’. This consists of collectively breeding hens and selling their eggs to the wider community. The project has been effective in several wards including La Palua, Cantagallo and La Union, in the municipality of San Pablo, Bolivar. The ‘hen laying’ project draws from a long tradition of small-scale poultry farming led by women (Angarita and Zapata, 2020), in which they rear a diversity of small animals in their patios usually for familial subsistence. In some cases, the collective hen/egg projects have inspired others to become independent sellers within a local informal poultry economy. This project is just one example of women working towards the food sovereignty of their communities, as many also maintain their own vegetable gardens, save seeds from previous harvests and grow medicinal plants. In this sense, they are repositories for a wealth of traditional knowledge and practice.

“I feel that here, we have accumulated experiences and traditional knowledge, because there are many people who have worked on community projects, and…have lived here all their lives working for the common good” (Female leader in the ZRC-VRC)

Upon first meeting us, several participants were shy and reserved, but behind their farm gates they have constructed neighbourly networks, woman to woman, where they sell eggs and meat among other products. One such campesina told us that during the pandemic, when trading outside the community was tough and physically restricted, she made and sold biscuits that were wildly popular. She attended meetings, such as those for the women’s committee, and used these spaces and places of connection to sell her biscuits. The committees and other workshops organised by the ACVC have been crucial sites of formation for these women. One leader recounted that the ACVC “has really taken women into account, especially considering the president is Doña Irene- a woman from the countryside who has really worked hard to support this work”. On the ground this has resulted in participants repeatedly noting that before “a woman had to stay in the house, now she doesn’t have to… now she says that I won’t stay there, I am going to do this”.

Women Cultivate for Life and Peace

Communities in the Middle Magdalena are accustomed to existing in the shadows, mainly due to the conflict and illicit economies, as living unobserved is a survival mechanism. The secrecy that is related to this context has further reinforced the erasure and silence around women’s agency and labour in the Middle Magdalena. Traditionally women’s labour is hidden behind the double burden, whereby domestic and care work remains unremunerated; however, in conflict settings their lives and contributions are even more obscured. Arguably, they have particularly important roles in conflict settings, as historically they are the ‘ones left behind’ if husbands are captured, arrested or killed. This was further reinforced by those involved in the coca economy, in which women are active participants in sowing and harvesting coca but often avoid selling coca-paste to intermediaries if they can. Some noted that if their male partners were captured, at least they would be ‘left’ to look after their family, home and farm. A leading feminist activist from the area highlighted that ‘women campesinas, have played an important role in protection and in caring… women have been a constant here, looking after each detail in sowing the crops…in conservation’. Evidently, women are crucial to the survival of socio-ecological communities in these precarious spaces of conflict.

This project aims to support women activists from the ACVC to highlight their strength, knowledge and leadership, breaking the overall silence surrounding them and their work. Women are the centre of their homes, undertaking arduous caring and domestic labour, but also in their communities through spaces such as women’s committees. Although few identify with concepts such as feminism, when tying these collective and individual stories together, many are effectively building feminist pathways to peace. This consists of women taking leadership of projects and recognising themselves as knowledge-bearers, therefore empowering themselves collectively but also in families and homes. In so doing, they are constructing alternatives to coca, building ties amongst each other to combat the mistrust and disconnection arising from conflict, as well as growing food that nourishes their immediate families and others. As the women involved in co-designing the mural painted in Bajo Cañabraval, San Pablo, noted: ‘women cultivate for life and peace’.

Photo Credit: Jaskiran Kaur Chohan
Muralist: Álvaro Saúl Pérez Peña
Co-designed mural from the project, depicting the rural economies that women participate in and lead: ‘Women cultivate for life and peace’, painted in the ward of Bajo Cañabraval, San Pablo.

Find out more about the project on their project page “Peasant and Popular Feminism: Co-constructing sustainability and peace in Colombia“, this is also includes a podcast created by the research team in Spanish.


  • Angarita, A; Zapata, F. (2020). Producción Agroecológica de Gallinas Criollas. Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios. Bogota: Colombia.
  • Asociación Campesina Valle del Río Cimitarra; Corporación Desarrollo y Paz del Magdalena Medio; Instituto Colombiano de Desarrollo Rural. (2012). Plan De Desarrollo Sostenible (2012-2022). Barrancabermeja: Colombia.
  • Chohan, J. K. (2020). Incorporating and Contesting the Corporate Food Regime in Colombia: Agri-food Dynamics in Two Zonas de Reserva Campesina (Peasant Reserve Zones) (Doctoral dissertation, UCL (University College London).
  • Ferro, J; Tobón, G. (2012). Zonas de Reserva Campesina y la Naciente Autonomía Territorial. Autonomías Territoriales: Experiencias y Desafíos. Observatoria de Territorios Étnicos. Bogota: Colombia.
  • Molano, A. (2009). En Medio del Magdalena Medio. Bogota: Colombia.

[1] The ZRC-VRC is essential to campesino history of resistance in the Middle Magdalena and therefore was crucial to our research. The ZRC model is a legal framework that prevents land concentration, promotes preferential access to institutional funding and provides pathways to alternative, sustainable, campesino-led development (Acevedo and Chohan, 2019; Chohan, 2020). This grassroots development initiative was the culmination of decades of land-based struggle, not only in the Middle Magdalena but also in other similar coca growing regions in the South of Colombia. The importance of the model to agrarian reform and the conundrum of sustainable peace-building was further recognised in the 2012 peace agreement between the Colombian state and the demobilised, left-wing, guerrilla group FARC-EP, which identified the model as key to agrarian reform.

Peasant and Popular Feminism: Co-constructing sustainability and peace in Colombia

Reflections on taking part in creative and co-produced research Laundry Justice

I was appointed as a seedcorn Research Associate for the second stage of the Brigstow Project Laundry Justice. My role involved carrying out a literature search of grey and academic literature about circus, including circus as part of academic research. It also included the role of production assistant over two days workshop with a group of circus performers who had lived experience as van dwellers and the research team which included academics from Sociology, Fashion and a member of a van dwelling community organisation. My fellow Research Assistant was a PhD student in Theatre and her role was to assist in ideas for costumes and to create costumes on the day. My role was to create songs or music as part of the production which would be a response to the data created about laundry and van dwelling.

Creativity was integral throughout the workshop process as, for example, one of the research team used their artistic skills and sketching to capture ideas and representations of the scenery and costume envisioned by the circus performers. The roles of participants and researchers drew on their creative and performance skills as one of the research team was also a circus performer and I was also participating as both a research assistant and musician.

One of the strengths of this approach to research was the way that individual narratives fed into a shared performance and narrative. The creative method of circus performance led to engagement with the data presented and different ways of thinking about and different ways of sharing lived experience. The practicality of circus as of a method shaped the data selection and interpretation. The lived experience of the circus participants was crucial here as although the sampling or responses were not representative the collective lived experience transcended that of individuals. The sharing of lived experiences and narratives, illustrated the value of group commonalities. This was evident for example in the way that the stigmatisation felt by van dwellers in the data was included in the circus performances in innovative ways that would connect with audiences in terms of public engagement. For example the ‘sniff test’ that was utilized in one of the hoop scenes. The value of group research and the benefit of a group dynamic in response to data was confirmed by this experience. This research process was therefore characterized by co- production.

The circus performers and van dwellers voices were privileged within the workshops and the relatively loose facilitation skillfully allowed this to happen. The lived experience of the circus performers and the fact that they were also van dwellers was invaluable in terms of their interpretation of the data. The workshops were also facilitated by someone who was themselves as van dweller and this added to the ideas exchange and authenticity of the project. They could reflect on the stories told in the data, identify with them, and then identify narratives of their own. This produced new individualized and group data and co-produced narratives enhancing existing data.

This workshop based research process also highlighted the importance and value of flexibility in research. The outcomes of the workshops could not have been predicted and without the flexibility in the way the workshops were facilitated those outcomes could have been restricted. The circus performers were given the space and flexibility to negotiate the days content within a broad overall structure.

Another strength of this form of creative research was that it was a multi- sensory experience. The performances conveyed messages performatively and physically whilst also incorporating the use of music and sound. The use of costume and props also added another dimension to the performance and encouraged playful and meaningful responses to the data. For example with the use of a skirt constructed of laundry within a hoop routine, and the use of one of the performers to physically represent laundry in an acrobatic scene. I was able to contribute to this multi- sensory experience through the creation of music that was a response to the performances. This was the first time that I had written improvised music in response to research data. This form of research led to an emotional response in the performers, myself included, particularly in a scene representing bailiffs evicting van dwellers. The music that was improvised rose to a crescendo as did the emotions and the music, props, and physicality all added to this. This form of research practice fits well with research that aims to share narratives.

The workshops also illustrated how time is an elastic concept during the research process. At some moments during the two days it felt as though there would never be enough time, indeed that time was running out. However, during the workshops the aim of having a performance that could be videoed to be used as evidence to apply for further funding had been achieved. The unique performances that were created were insightful and meaningful,  clearly reflecting the themes of the data. The extraordinary capacity of creative research to be of value was confirmed by this experience.

Another important  aspect of this research process was the obvious enjoyment of the research participants and performers. The circus performers not only actively engaged with the data but clearly enjoyed doing so. They wanted to create work to share the themes of the research that resonated with their lived experience. Many of the performers commented on how they enjoyed the opportunity to create and devise work that was meaningful in ways beyond their usual performances.

This was a very rewarding project to have been a small part of. My hybrid role as a Research Assistant meant that my creative background as a musician was an asset and I could draw on my academic and creative skills. These were  enjoyable, thought provoking, creative and collaborative workshops. The creative group process enabled intersectional narratives to be created, and ensured that data fed into the practice and subsequent performance. The practice was shaped by the themes identified by the research team and in turn creative practice itself influenced the selection of themes.

Implementing innovative qualitative research methods with farmers to understand the transition to alternative agriculture in the South West of England

When I set the objective of understanding farmer’s practices in the context of agricultural transition and behaviour change, I don’t think I was very aware of the challenge, especially because these types of studies require the analysis of human experiences. So how could I achieve it? I understood that human experiences are multi-modal: visual, spatial, temporal and involve physical objects (Braun, V., Clarke, V., & Gray, D. (2017). As a result a simple sit-down one-hour interview in a room wasn’t going to be the best method for this research. Here is where innovative research methods play their role. These methods also opened a range of more dynamic ways of doing qualitative research with farmers. It was a risk to put in place innovative methods in the agricultural sector which remains slightly traditional, but I had previous experience, and both the participants and I enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a chance!

Working on my current research has been exciting as it relates to my interests. It is part of the wider fungicide farming southwest project*, which studies the ecotoxicological threats of certain fungicides to drinking water, food security, aquatic life, and human health. The central objective of my research is to analyse how alternative agriculture can help to reduce the use of fungicides. I will try to answer this by identifying alternative techniques that can be used to deal with fungal diseases. The other planned action is to explore in depth the views of farmers that haven’t shifted to alternative agriculture and compare them with the challenges and solutions that alternative farmers experienced in their transition. By having a clearer picture of what the transition to alternative agriculture looks like I hope to help the farming community to accelerate the transition from farmer’s empirical knowledge and answer if alternative agriculture can help to reduce the use of fungicides.

II. Selection of method

I followed an ethnographic approach combined with innovative qualitative methods such as: walking in-depth interviews and visual methods such as graphic elicitation and timeline mapping. The ethnographic approach in the first place aimed to propitiate a safe and comfortable environment to discuss topics that could evoke distressful or sensitive memories. By following an ethnographic approach to conduct walking in-depth interviews I was able to “learn more about members of a community from the members themselves, in their own words and a natural setting” (Munz, 2017). In practical terms, I conducted in-depth interviews at the farms, walking the crops in the rain, sat on a sprayer machine, in their offices, and even in their kitchens.

The second part of the interview consisted of using timeline mapping or graphic elicitation. A timeline is a graphic representation, commonly represented using a horizontal or vertical line, where participants highlight events that happened during a certain period, in chronological order or not. Some of the benefits of using a timeline are: (1) to analyse better thought processes and behaviour change over time (Chen, 2018); and (2) to explore resilience which is one of the attributes that alternative agriculture promises and one of the current challenges of conventional agricultural systems.

Picture 1 Participant No.1 working on the timeline while having some lunch in his kitchen
Picture 1 Participant No.1 working on the timeline while having some lunch in his kitchen

III. Initial thoughts on the preliminary results

The timelines that respond better or in more detail to the transition from a synthetic chemical–based agricultural system (commonly called conventional agriculture) to an alternative were the ones drawn by participants No.1 (organic farmer) and No.9 (Regenerative farmer). These two participants transitioned from synthetic chemical–based agricultural systems, No.1 20 years ago and No.9 around 10 years ago.

Timeline Participant No. 9
Timeline Participant No. 9
One interesting result is that these two farmers (Participant No.1 and No.9) have many similarities in their journey even though they practice different “agricultural approaches”. For example, graphically they seem very similar in structure and diversity of colours. Participant No.9 even drew happy or sad faces to express events with those connotations. In terms of time, it seems like a period of at least 10 years has been needed for these two farmers to express benefits in terms of healthier soil. They also experienced important crop losses from their early transition (after 5 years approximately) which even led Participant No.1 to give up growing cereals for almost 7 years. Participant No.1 attributed this failure to a “lack of experience”.

By contrast, the timeline or graphic representation of participant no.6 (a couple) looks significantly different from the rest of the timelines. This timeline seems more multidimensional, with more textures, and symbols – superficially speaking, more “messy”. The participants drew ascending and descending lines that represented positive or negative experiences. They also used peak or dip points to represent successes or failures. They also used different symbols to represent their life – dashed lines, straight lines, or wavy lines. Does this differences come from the way they see their experience as long-terms organic farmers without any transition from chemical systems? Or does this just represent a different personal-individual mindset? There are loads of interesting details to explore, but I am in the analysis phase at the moment whilst writing this blog…

Timeline – graphic elicitation Participant no.6
Timeline – graphic elicitation Participant no.6

IV. How was the experience?

Overall, all the participants accepted to work on the timeline, and at least half of them expressed to have enjoyed doing the exercise. They mentioned that the timeline made them reflect on specific events that otherwise they just tend to forget and keep working. They also mentioned that the timeline improves or helps them to better analyse and visualize their transition journey. However, two participants didn’t produce a detailed timeline: Participant No.7 had already elaborated a timeline of his transition and also mentioned that giving details of it could take him several days. I presume that participant No.7 thinks in this way because of his academic background (Holds a PhD.). Participant No.8 didn’t finish the timeline, presumably because I conducted the interview online and he was in his car. Despite not finishing, by following the timeline structure verbally, I would say I obtained the same quality and depth of information that I got from those timelines conducted in-person.

Using graphic elicitation didn’t quite work for the objectives of this research. With the first participants we used graphic elicitation, with the hope that, by giving the freedom to represent graphically their transition or journey, challenges, topics, and ideas that we weren’t considering or that haven’t been reported would emerge, but this wasn’t the case. I suspect that the two main reasons why it didn’t work are: (1) Misunderstanding of the instructions given and (2) a lack of detail about what we were aiming for. For example, Participant No.6 mentioned it was difficult at the beginning to come out with an idea for a graphic representation – they kind of started creating drawings without time information or details, the same as Participant No.5.

V. Final reflections:

By putting together the use of innovative methods I facilitated participant’s openness and collected a great amount of in-depth data and vastly descriptive answers (I could even write a book). Farmers seemed to have enjoyed the interview and even some invited me to visit them again at their farms. A professional learning I can take from the research is to be adaptable to the current moment or circumstances – for example, when we started the interview with participant No.5, it was heavily raining so I shifted the first section to doing it indoors. However, I felt that when we were indoors his answers were short, so once the rain stopped, I asked him to go outside. After being outside he gave much more detailed answers.

Traveling around the Southwest of England and talking to conventional and alternative farmers has not just been a professional but also a personal eye-opener and enriching experience. I feel this experience provided me with a more balanced way of seeing the pressures and challenges that farmers face, how much they care about their occupation, and also their land, workers, and the food they produce independently of their farming approach; and perhaps most admirably of all, the generosity of sharing their time and knowledge for the benefit of all of us.

*Website project: fungicidefarmingsouthwest (

VI. References:

About the author

My name is Arleen Lezcano, I am a Master by research student from The Cabot Institute for the environment of the University of Bristol. My study is qualitative research following an ethnographic approach combined with participant observation, walking interviews and visual methods such as graphic elicitation and timeline mapping. The central objective of my research is to analyse how alternative agriculture (organic, regenerative) can help to avoid or reduce the use of fungicides in the context of antifungal resistance. To answer this, I am identifying current barriers to transition to alternative agriculture and fungicide resistance awareness. Then, I aim to compare these barriers with the challenges that alternative farmers faced when they transitioned. Secondly, I am identifying and describing the practices that conventional and alternative farmers are currently using to deal with fungal diseases.

I have a BSc. in Environmental and Development engineering from Zamorano Agricultural University in Honduras with a diploma in adaptation to climate change. My previous research experience includes studies of water quality in Panama, vulnerability analysis of agricultural systems to climate variability in Honduras (Análisis de vulnerabilidad de sistemas agrícolas ante variabilidad climática en San Antonio de Oriente, F.M., Honduras (, women’s involvement in the climate Change National Communications (TNC) on Climate Change of Panama for the UNFCC.

“It opened my eyes” – group reflections on our experiences of the community research ‘Living Financial Resilience’ project

Last year, we collaborated with Boost Community and local community researchers to investigate lived experience of financial resilience in Lawrence Hill. One of our aims was to reverse the usual top-down structures of research, by making sure that people from the local community were at the forefront of the project throughout data collection, analysis and dissemination.

While co-design and collaborative projects are becoming increasingly popular in research, thus far few studies have evaluated the experiences of all stakeholders who participate in this type of project (Pallesen et al., 2020).  We therefore felt that on top of writing about our own experiences of taking part in the project, (which you can read about here), it was also vital to hear reflections from our community research partners about their role in the process.

Therefore at the end of the project in November 2022, we gathered together a focus group to reflect on our experiences. Attendees were representatives from the University of Bristol, Boost Community and community researchers. We spoke about our feelings during and after the project, evaluated what went well and what could have been better, and discussed the learning that we would take forward. Here we will explore some of the key reflections that arose from the group.

“We came together as a group”

A theme that came up frequently during the focus group was the importance of relationships. This project took place over approximately six months, and we had frequent meetings and workshops to discuss what we had learned and reflect on the interviews conducted so far. As well as allowing us to analyse data together in real time, this meant that we also had the chance to get to know one other. The meetings were something that we all enjoyed and as we became more comfortable with one another, the community researchers also became more confident in voicing their opinions. We also planned in time for group social events, including a boat trip round the harbour. We reflected that for this type of project, the importance of having time to build relationships and trust cannot be overstated.

Find the person who... a) has the most children?
b) has lived in Lawrence Hill the longest?
c) Knows the most about music?
d) Is the best cook or baker?
e) Has the most interesting hobby?
f) Has volunteered for Boost or the Settlement before?
g) Is married to someone from a different country?
A ‘getting to know each other’ activity from our first workshop

We also benefitted from the existing relationships that Boost had with the community researchers. During the initial recruitment period, the team at Boost selected clients that they felt may be interested in taking part and got in touch with them directly. The fact that this initial contact came from someone they already knew was important in convincing the community researchers that it was a worthwhile project.

However, despite the positive relationships we built, we still struggled to maintain momentum and keep community researchers engaged. Having started with six community researchers, we saw people drop out along the way, and just two attended the final focus group. During the session we reflected on why this might have been and what we could do differently next time. We reflected on the fact that for us at UoB, research is our job, while the community researchers had to find time to participate alongside other life commitments. We discussed whether a more formalized job role for the community researchers may have encouraged more people to take part.


“You’re gonna help your community”

Community researchers spoke about how the project provided them with the opportunity to give something back to their own local community. We spoke about the outcomes of the research that we were proud of, such as holding a community open day to share our findings in a way that was accessible for people living in Lawrence Hill. Boost commented that the recommendations for their organization were helpful and achievable, and that the findings confirmed their own experiences of how and why people use their services.

However, participation in a community-based project is not without its challenges. Some of the final recommendations that we came up with as a result of the research would require higher-level, structural change that is not achievable with limited time and resources. We reflected on the difficulty of conducting research and not feeling able to immediately bring about the change that the findings recommend. Despite this, we also discussed the importance of doing this type of research, in order to raise the profile of the local community and highlight their financial experiences.

Community researchers also reflected on the personal challenges they faced when gathering data within their own community. For example, they described difficulties in recruiting and engaging participants for interviews. Some participants dropped out at the last minute, some were reluctant to share many details, and some expected a greater incentive than they were offered. We discussed whether some of these issues may be related to the fact the community researchers already knew the participants, and whether participants who were strangers may have been more willing to share personal details.

We also discussed the emotional impact of listening to their neighbours’ and friends’ financial struggles. Of course, hearing the stories of people in vulnerable positions is a challenge for any qualitative researcher, but with their additional role as ‘insiders’ perhaps the data gathered were closer to home for the community researchers. We were aware of this possibility during the course of the project and held one workshop specifically focussed on self-care and reflection, where we went out for a walk together and talked over the feelings that had arisen as part of taking part in the project. On a more positive note, the community researchers also spoke about how hearing other people’s experiences had reminded them of what they were grateful for in their own lives.

Walk and talk Activity1. choose a pair
2. Go out for a walk for 10 - 15 minutes
3. Talk about: a) one thing you have enjoyed about doing the interviews, b) one thing that has been difficult about doing the interviews, c) one thing that helps you to manage when things are difficult.
A screenshot of the slide from our ‘walk and talk’ self-reflection activity during one of the workshops 

“I’m feeling confident”

A final theme that came up frequently during the focus group was how the project had contributed to personal growth and development for each of us. The representatives from UoB and Boost spoke about the change they had witnessed in the community researchers throughout the project. As they grew in confidence, those who had been reticent during the first workshops became key contributors to data analysis and discussions in later workshops. Community researchers spoke about their initial nerves when conducting interviews, but how as time went on they felt their skills had improved.  They were also optimistic about the future as a result of taking part in the project, with one community researcher commenting that they would be able to talk about the experience when applying for future jobs. Those of us from UoB also spoke about how much we had learned from taking part in the project, for example we reflected on the inaccessibility of many of the systems and the language that we use in academia.

Both of the community researchers who participated in the focus group were mothers of young children, and described how the project had given them the opportunity to get out of the house, meet new people and prove that they could challenge themselves and do something different. We reflected on ways that the project team had been able to facilitate their involvement. For example, meetings were scheduled at times when children were at school and childcare was provided for younger children when needed. Where community researchers were unable to attend because of other commitments, they were given the opportunity to catch up on what they had missed via telephone. By being flexible and adaptable, we were able to benefit from the involvement of talented community researchers, who provided us with new and inspiring perspectives.


Through this project we set out to develop ideas about how to support financial resilience in the Lawrence Hill community, as set out in our policy brief. During our reflective focus group, community researchers described how they had given back to their local community and raised awareness of financial difficulties. As well as the community impact, they also discussed how they had built positive relationships with their co-researchers, and described making gains in personal confidence and skills. Our project therefore highlights how co-design research has the power to produce important research findings, while also impacting positively on participants’ and researchers’ lives.

One of the community researchers, Moustapha Ahmed, in a joint workshop with a team from the Great Western Credit Union
One of the community researchers, Moustapha Ahmed, in a joint workshop with a team from the Great Western Credit Union

Making and Talking Menopause with the MenoMakers

Welcome to the Menopause

It used to be a secret

But now…

It’s too big not to talk about.

[Nelissa Mendy, 2022].

The MenoMakers discussion and craft group has been running for two years in North Kensington, London. It has given us a much-needed space to talk about our menopause, one that we didn’t have before. Being in touch with like-minded, non-judgemental women is so important. Having a regular safe space to articulate personal experiences is invaluable, and these conversations often spill over into our project WhatsApp group in between sessions. It’s made us think about how important peer to peer support is, and meeting regularly has created a new network: friendships have evolved.

We hadn’t really talked about menopause before, definitely not like we do here. We’d not sat with girlfriends, maybe because it is a difficult subject. But here it didn’t feel like that. It’s a different type of space. Coming into a space where we didn’t know anybody was a big step for some of us but when you get to this point in your life you’ve got to be open and just say well you know what if we don’t do this we’re going to be stuck in that hole forever, so come out of the hole and just do it. We’re so glad we met and we don’t know what the future is but we feel connected. That is special.

Within the group we have been open in our discussion topics and it has been relaxed with no pressure, often discussing menopause but sometimes not. We have really valued our conversations, both meno-focused and other subjects; our families, jobs, hobbies, holidays…. It can be serious, light, humorous and problem-sharing. To be able to keep a group together, that level of commitment that everybody has to the group has been phenomenal. It’s not an easy thing to commit to something for two years. We have dedication.

Being able to engage with each other face to face has been really positive. No matter what’s been going on in our lives outside of coming into the group each time we came in we’ve always felt uplifted. These wonderful ladies, sharing, holding space, all of us being able to be ourselves, take the mask off and leave it at the door. We know we’re going to go to the group, and we don’t know what we’re going to do, but we know we’re going to do something, and that something is just for us, just for me. And when we are there we can speak or listen, but most of all we are acknowledging that this is menopause. Even the fact that it’s organised, that there is someone leading the group, making the space and nailing down dates, it’s a seriousness that really feels like: this is important.

Craft made a comfortable space for talking. We could start using creativity and then find the words to come together as a group. Sometimes we don’t want to talk and if we don’t want to talk about menopause this month we can just focus on our crafts, we can just enjoy the sewing or the printing or clay. And then the conversation might evolve into something you do want to talk about, and then suddenly you do end up talking. That worked really, really well, it took the pressure off. It was really conducive to relaxed conversations, especially in the early days when we were all feeling like, well, we haven’t talked to anyone about menopause let alone a load of strangers, is it better or worse that we are strangers, we don’t know! So to have that creative work that we can look at and we can be doing that whilst we’re talking, and we don’t have to be worrying ‘should I be talking, should I be making eye contact…’ It took away any awkwardness, it just felt so much easier, it felt enabled by the creativity.

For some of us the creative process of doing felt more important than finishing and having made something. Some of us didn’t finish a single thing! But the doing elicited a feeling that we don’t get in day-to-day life and our normal routines. We just don’t have that feeling of being lost in our body, where nothing is right or wrong, it’s a lovely space and it’s space with others, creating together, and giving our making and talking significance. Making something can give us a sense of achievement, even if we don’t like how it looks there is something in the world that wasn’t there an hour ago. But even if there isn’t an object, if it’s something half-finished or hardly begun, we have still done something. We haven’t just moaned, and we think that takes away some of the negative feelings about menopause. Before long just walking into the sessions we felt that joy.

When you see other people’s work you feel really proud of everyone and everybody does such different things. And that’s another way we communicate as a group, seeing what someone has come up with makes you know them in a different way. Sometimes we can express something creatively that we couldn’t put into works. It’s sort of intense, it gets straight to the point. It’s not just what we’re making but what everyone else is making too, it all adds to the experience. We really loved that.

You can find out more about the project on the MenoMakers website.

The MenoMakers Team:

  • Lisa Nash is a socially engaged artist/facilitator and arts programmer. She is embedded in the North Kensington community and leads on wellbeing programmes in her role as Curator, Social Practice for ACAVA.
  • Jessica Hammett is a public historian of modern Britain, researching women’s experiences of mental health and wellbeing. She has worked with a wide range of partners in the arts, heritage and mental health sectors.
  • Vanessa Beck is a sociologist of work and employment, researching menopause in workplace settings. She has worked with a range of trade unions, charities, statutory and private organisations.
  • The North Kensington MenoMakers have co-produced all project activities and outputs, both creating and curating the exhibition-in-a-box. They are a diverse group of non-artists currently experiencing the menopause, who reflect the social, cultural and ethnic diversity of North Kensington.

Illustrations by Toya Walker (2021)

The project has been funded by the Brigstow Institute and the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account scheme.