Heritage Open Doors Weekend, September 10th – Naming of Parts – Pat Jamieson and Carol Laidler
For the Heritage Open Doors Weekend, September 10th we ran a participatory event as part of our research for Naming of Parts. We set up an awning outside the Museum and placed a table with crayons, chalks, pencils and small silhouettes of figures to label and colour, as well as two life-size blackboards leaning against the Museum. We wanted to work with visitors to examine emotions, where they are held in the body, how they are labelled and how they are experienced and use this to open up conversations about how it feels to be alive.
We asked people to shut their eyes for a minute and be aware of where they felt physical sensations in the body and then describe these sensations by writing or drawing.
This process allowed us to enter into a conversation with participants about complex feelings. We were interested in engaging people in thinking about how language is used in relation to how we experience a range of complex responses to the world outside ourselves as well as our own physical reactions. We wanted to find out if people felt that there were feelings or emotions that existed and were experienced in our bodies that did not have a name.
The event was a great success. Despite the rain we had a steady stream of visitors, upward of two hundred, many of whom were interested in taking part. In fact there were times when it was hard work keeping up with demand.
The event was both challenging and intimate and we were surprised and moved by the quality and frankness of the people who took part. Of particular note was a family of four, father, mother, teenage daughter and ten year old son with special needs, who engaged in the task with serious concentration and produced thoughtful images and insightful responses. Indeed we were overwhelmed by people’s willingness to work with us on what seemed like a very deep level. By the end of the day we felt that something very special had taken place.