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exhibition in a box

exhibition in a box

The concept of ‘The Exhibition’ is embedded within the culture of Art & Design and has a long history as a form of ‘gathering’ to prompt discourse. This research explores the role of the exhibition as a ‘theatre for conversation’ and its role and format as a research tool as well as a means of dissemination. The research draws on the value of ‘thinking with things’ as a method and central to this is the notion of exhibition as a research tool that becomes a meeting space that enables this to happen. Exhibition becomes the medium and method for data collection and creates the conduit, through which societal assumptions relating to ageing and healthcare care can be made visible, explored and challenged

Funded by : 
Higher education academy

Project team:
Paul Chamberlain
Claire Craig

Building on methods developed through a transnational project engagingaging (Chamberlain & Craig), the principles of the traditional exhibition were translated into a format that was more flexible, accessible and inclusive. ‘Exhibition in a box’ (Chamberlain & Craig) distilled the essence of the exhibition into a suitcase, a la Duchamp that could be transported to diverse environs including the home. In doing so the home was transformed into the research arena, providing individuals with a tangible prompt to scaffold conversation.

Twelve boxes were produced and distributed for use with health specialists in collaboration with older users across Europe. These boxes comprised of everyday objects, photographs and textual material defined through the user-workshops undertaken in conjunction with the earlier large-scale exhibitions in engagingaging. The objects were carefully selected to code, represent and prompt further discussion on themes that had emerged from earlier research. Key themes included mobility, hygiene, relationships, identity, communication, technology, food, art, money, recreation, safety and work and these were represented through the set of found objects that included, keys, dice, soap, pencil, watch, stone, glove, post-card, spoon. The objects could and did combine to create objective correlatives prompting and enabling participants to express emotional responses.


The real strength of the approach is the objects, ‘things’ to which individuals can relate, no matter what the culture, language or age of participant. Whilst the objects in the box remain unchanging the associations they prompt and the stories they evoke are ever changing.

Working in partnership with older people has developed a set of principles that primarily position the person as the expert and encourages choice and decision-making. Within the first phase of the research we identified and worked with four occupational therapy departments in Universities across Europe including the Hogeschool  Zuyd in the Netherlands and the Zhaw Institute in Zurich. Exhibition in a box has been utilised and evaluated during the past two years as tool for occupational therapy students in support of their engagement with the community

exhibition in a box has been utilised as a tool to engage various communities in co-creative activities across a broad range of topics

engagingaging

engagingaging was a transnational programme of research that sought to understand the needs, preferences and aspirations of older people in order to inform the design of products and systems to support independence and wellbeing in later life.

Funded by : 
British Council

Partners:
Chang Gung University, Taiwan.
University of the third Age

Project team:
Paul Chamberlain – Team lead
Claire Craig

engagingaging was a transnational programme of research that sought to understand the needs, preferences and aspirations of older people in order to inform the design of products and systems to support independence and wellbeing in later life.

‘Engagingaging was a fresh approach and broke the rules on what we normally expect from an exhibition. It dealt with some difficult and controversial issues in a friendly and accessible way’
Curator museum of Contemporary Art , Taipei, Taiwan”.

The concept of ‘The Exhibition’ is embedded within the culture of Art & Design and has a long history as a form of ‘gathering’ to prompt discourse. This research explores the role of the exhibition as a ‘theatre for conversation’ and its role and format as a research tool as well as a means of dissemination.

The research is based on the principle of engaging users through a programme of workshops, integrated with the exhibition, to illicit a better understanding of user-needs, which in turn inform design activity. The enquiry was predicated on the premise that older people offer a valued resource and asset to families, communities and society.
The starting point of the research, funded by the British Council, was a comparison of the experiences of older people living in the United Kingdom and Taiwan.

Within the exhibition a collection of furniture entitled ‘Stigmas’ embodied issues relating to the physical, cognitive and attitudinal challenges older people face in everyday life. The critical artefacts did not present solutions but posed a series of considered questions that illuminated the landscape of old age.

The engagingaging series of exhibitions has been hosted at a number of venues including: the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Building Centre, London; the Taipei Cultural Centre; and the SIA gallery, Sheffield, and underpins a collaborative project with Chang Gung University and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan (British Council PMI CONNECT funded).