West Dorset District Council
‘The Touch Diaries’, an ethnographic community dance project and award-winning short dance film with live gallery performance at The Edge Arts Centre, University of Bath (2015).
"I have been developing a body of work called The Touch Diaries the premise for which was initially driven by my observations of people around me; my children, the young adults I work with and isolated (often single) older friends. I found in myself an augmenting interest in an observed change that is taking place around the experience of ‘human connection’. Considering this from the perspective of my growing up to observe the experience of the growing up that takes place now, mostly through my children. An awareness arose in me that my generation would be the last to experience a childhood and adolescence without technology. Those growing up now will not know what it is like to not have technology, to not be connected in the instant and incessant way that technology insists upon. It is interesting, relevant and important to me to investigate what touch means and what value it holds now.
In response to this, firstly, I to put together a diary study, so that I could track each moment of human contact through several days. The diary would be a qualitative study and an observation on tracking touch that would most likely be quite limited in terms of the net it cast, but in many ways, a starting point in order to help me to understand where we are now. Secondly, I led workshops to engage with different groups and communities to make a time and a space in which I could find out about what people think about the questions I had.
There were 10 workshops in total and the journey of a selection of participants (at least one from each workshop) was tracked by the Physical Cultural Studies Group at the University of Bath who were commissioned to evaluate the project.
The workshops were for both open and closed groups and held in a mix of settings. Participants in workshop groups represented a range of ages between 8 and 96 (and the groups were generally mixed-gender and multi-ethnic, although on the whole the majority of participants were white-British females aged between 30 and 60.) At the core of the workshops was an invitation to talk openly, explore and investigate the themes of touch and human connection and this was achieved through movement-oriented exercises and led discussions.
In response to all the data I received through these two-strands of research, using a ‘performance’ medium and language with which I am familiar, I produced a short screen-dance work. This was previewed in July this year alongside some early performance work that I had created and that had been shared earlier through the process in open studio events at Dartington Hall and at the Marine Theatre."