Our project ‘Invisible – Visible’ explores the concept of invisibility within society. It was made possible by an Emergency Funding Grant from The Arts Council. We have watched it come to life over the last year and we have met some exceptional and inspirational community groups as part of the journey. We are delighted to be able to now share the results of the project with you at the Gallery MK from 10th September to 3rd October 2021.
To give you a little background…
Invisibility in society is a term used to describe certain people are ignored, taken for granted, isolated and forgotten. As part of our project, we wanted to explore how age, race, gender, disability, socio economic status and our career choices can all directly affect how society perceives us, and why certain people and roles are marginalised.
If the year 2020 has taught us anything it is that EVERYONE is important to their local community and to society, and no one should feel or made to feel invisible. Everyone has a part to play in supporting vital services and in building a just society. Making people feel invisible and undervalued does not solve any problems. In fact, it creates them. Everyone has an important voice. We must listen.
We worked with a range of theatre professionals and individuals and groups from our local community to get an honest portrayal of how people within our society feel. Using a number of mediums to develop our project, we were the catalyst in getting people’s voices heard in areas that may never have thought possible.
We would not have been able to fulfil this project without the support of Arts Council England.
Middlescence (Becoming The Invisible Woman)
Over a six-month period, we worked with and supported theatre maker, Sarah Wanendeya, to develop her piece “Becoming the Invisible Woman” (showcased at our ‘Taking the Stage Event’ in 2019), which is an autobiographical piece examining Sarah’s experience of motherhood, ageing and the lure of paths not yet taken. Sarah worked with dramaturg, Fiona Graham, over a period of months to re-write the piece, and decided to rename it “Middlescence”.
Milton Keynes based animation artist and illustrator, Jess Bolam, gave her response to the new theatre piece with a series of drawings. She identified key moments in the play which spoke to her, and she made ten impressive drawings. This was all part of telling stories in different ways.
Illustrated Book - Community
An LGBTQ+ group in Oxfordshire, set up by Jessie Coller at Cornerstone Arts in Didcot, met last year over Zoom to discuss and highlight their feelings and experiences around “invisibility and visibility”. It was an incredibly open and thought-provoking conversation. BBC Oxford even picked up on the project and made a short video.
Jess Bolam worked with the group alongside Jessie to create a series of incredible drawings that depict the group’s discussions. This is the artwork that we are using to promote the project.
Jessie Coller is an Oxfordshire based theatre practitioner and Artistic Director of Noctium Theatre Company. With a keen interest in collaborative and experimental performance, Jessie is passionate about using creativity as a tool to amplify the voices of people from marginalised groups. In addition to her work as a theatre practitioner, she is also Arts Development Officer for Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot.
Twine - Community
We worked with a sewing and craft group in Wolverton, Milton Keynes, which met regularly via Zoom to talk about their own experiences and feelings. The group was run by Jane Charles, an expert in crafts and textiles. Some members of the group enjoyed their “invisibility”. Others talked about particular experiences which they felt didn’t defined them, but more it was how society had tried to define them. The result is an interactive multi-media twine where participants can explore their own views as well as reading the stories of others.
Podcast - Community
We were interested in talking to people who have felt invisible or not heard in our society, but through circumstances have become visible and found their voice.
The podcast, themed ‘Invisibility in society’, enabled us to speak with a range of women from within our community. Our guests spoke separately about their experiences, and each had an inspiring story to tell.
Films - Community
Over six weeks, the talented students from Milton Keynes College and their wonderful tutor, Mandy Clayfield, to devise six monologues. The students attended workshops to learn how to craft a monologue with their own “take” on invisibility and visibility, and with the expert support from Rosemary Hill (our Artistic Director) and Sam Dore (Film Maker), they received thorough training in film making.
The students rose to the challenge and created films that covered a wide range of issues and experiences, plus they explored techniques, including the use of a green screen and where and when to use music.
We hope you are able to join us at the Gallery MK from 10th September to 3rd October 2021 to find out more about our project, ‘Invisible – Visible’.