Creative Methods Workshop

March 28, 2024
Dr Hazel Marzetti reading from a laptop in front of a large screen which reads: Using Creative Methods to Explore the Politics of Suicide and Suicide Prevention.

On March 11th 2024 Hazel Marzetti visited the Discovery Research Platform, and together with Veronica Heney facilitated a workshop exploring interpretation and creative methods.

Taking place in the Institute for Medical Humanities, the Creative Methods Workshop was hosted by the Narrative Practices Lab, as part of its work exploring innovative methodological approaches and supporting researchers in taking methodological risks. The workshop was well attended, and brought up a number of thought-provoking ideas around ethics, care, and epistemic justice.

The workshop opened with a presentation from Hazel Marzetti, laying out her work as part of the Suicide in/as Politics project. The project involved inviting participants to take part in a series of 4 creative workshops, where they would use methods such as black-out poetry and collaging to respond to the project’s data on suicide policies in the UK. Hazel generously shared some of the wonderful artwork (which can also be seen in the published ezines and digital gallery) and reflected on the project’s complexities, and the questions that arose from this methodological approach.

Veronica and Hazel laid out some of the key problematics which creative methods might prompt – from consideration of creators’ intentions to how to incorporate artistic outputs into academic writing. They then invited workshop participants to talk in small groups around six key questions, encouraging participants to share their experiences, their uncertainties, and recommendations.

Questions

  • What does the practice of interpretation mean to us in our work? What should it involve?
  • How can we be ethically careful with people’s artistic works, while also drawing on critical social frameworks and literatures?
  • How important is the intention of the research participant in our academic response to and writing about creative research material?
  • How do we understand what it is that academics do, with relation to analysis and interpretation, and how does this particular method interact with that?
  • How do we account for our role in co-curating and co-creating the artistic materials, through our prompts, facilitation, and provision of materials?
  • How do we account for the limitations or inaccessibility of creative methods for some participants?

At the end of each of two discussion sessions the groups fed back to the whole workshop, allowing everyone to gain from the insights and wisdom in the room. Together explored the blurry boundary between creative artworks and research data, and how the two might be treated both similarly and differently. We considered accountability and responsibility – and how to recognise that all research methods are partial and imperfect. Throughout the session we came back to the importance of process, of prioritising how research is carried out, and the decisions we make to ensure that process is one of care.

Veronica, Hazel, and the whole Narrative Practices Lab would like to thank everyone who attended the workshop for being so generous and insightful in their contributions to the discussion. The event left us with lots to think about, but the process of discussing these issues collectively and in depth felt incredibly helpful.

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