top of page

As part of my PhD research, I've been speaking to socially engaged, community and participatory artists to understand how they listen within their practice.

Socially-engaged art projects are rarely initiated by the communities they seek to serve. Though arts organisation’s efforts (consultation, co-production and partnership models) go some way to address this, inequality often remains ingrained in projects from their inception. My research asks, how can social art challenge uneven power-relations, even when set within frameworks serving neoliberal agendas? 

I'm interested in how 'listening' features within this practice, and how it might be applied as a useful and usable model for dissecting power dynamics. What gets in the way of listening, and what might the consequences of listening be?

This monthly podcast series is hosted by Meanwhile in an Abandoned Warehouse - a podcast about cultural democracy and community art. 

Episode 1: Listening and Not Knowing

Albert Potrony introduces his participatory arts practice, describing a recent project with young fathers in Gateshead and former members of an anti-sexist men’s group. We talk about collaborative practice in detail, and the role of listening within this.

Albert Potrony

Elastic Communal Tours at Tate

Equal Play at BALTIC

Turner Prize 2021

The Tyranny of Structurelessness

Aldo van Eyck

Anti-sexist men’s groups

North East Young Dads and Lads Project

Ways of Listening 2.jpg

Episode 2: Listening from Before there is a Project

Socially-engaged filmmaker Edwin Mingard talks about the need to turn off ‘broadcast mode’. Edwin brings diverse groups of people together to explore social change through moving image. He shares his learning from a long term project with young people in Stoke who were either homeless or recently experienced it, collaborating on a beautiful film called ‘An Intermission’ (2020). 


Edwin Mingard

An Intermission (2020)

Constellations (2019-2020)

Ep3 Listening Through the Body.jpeg

Episode 3: Listening through the Body

Sam Metz talks about listening beyond the aural, sharing examples from their work with non-verbal participants. Sam looks for ways of working that don't privilege vision or verbal interactions, and describes a listening practice that extends through the body. They describe the importance of attunement to micro-cues to pick up on participants’ comfort levels, and consider how relationships affect our ability to act as a ‘receiver’. Sam shares methods from their practice, such as encouraging repetitive touch as a means of connecting with embodied feedback.


Sam Metz

Interview for Nottingham Contemporary

Drawing as Stimming

Ways of Listening 4.jpg

Episode 4: Lady Kitt - Building Listening into Everything

In this fourth episode of Ways of Listening, titled Building Listening into Everything, disabled artist and drag king Lady Kitt talks to our host Hannah Kemp-Welch about their practice of ‘mess making as social glue’. Kitt describes a ‘collaborative sandwich’ activity that helps to build relationships at the start of a community project, and ways they make space for listening throughout this work. 


Lady Kitt

Ways of Listening 5.jpeg

Episode 4: Jody Wood - Hearing what isn't being said

Artist Jody Wood talks about listening as a practice of care - where to care is not to cure. Jody advocates for participatory ‘opt in’ structures rather than co-creation, questioning the expectations placed on artists to solve social issues. Using examples from projects taking place with social workers and in homelessness shelters, Jody talks through the need to resist conflicting agendas, and keep focus on the power of a relational practice. We also discuss the need to listen to yourself, listening as a spiritual practice of attunement. 


Jody Wood

Choreographing Care

Beauty in Transition

Social Pharmacy

Ways of Listening_6.jpeg

Episode 6: Marley Starskey Butler - Resourcing Listening 

Marley is a multidisciplinary artist and social worker. They work across visual, audio, and written mediums and explore the intersections between art, social work, and their familial lived experience of social work. In this episode, Marley talks about workshops as spaces for listening. They describe a project where redacted social work records act as impetus for recording a new family archive. We also discuss listening within the context of social work, and how this is affected by the chronic under-resourcing of the sector. 


Marley Starskey Butler

Thirty Six


If You Can't Hear You Will Feel (2018)

Ways of Listening_7.jpeg

Episode 7: Sylvan Baker - Changing the Resonance

Practitioner and researcher Sylvan Baker examines listening within applied theatre practices. He describes a process of using ‘headphone verbatim’ to share testimonies with care-experienced young people, and shows how playback and performance  change the resonance of the spoken word. Sylvan has worked across applied theatre, socially engaged arts and education for the past 30 years, and is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Central School of Speech and Drama. 


Sylvan Baker

Headphone verbatim

Verbatim Practice as Research with Care-Experienced Young People: An ‘Aesthetics of Care’ Through Aural Attention

Small Axe

Ladder of participation

bottom of page