Description of initiative
Under the framework of a research grant from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture regarding Arts in Health, Eyes of Light organization has collaborated with the visual artist Chloe Pare to implement an artistic workshop for women with cancer. In February 2022 an online workshop entitled Planetary Systems was held with the participation of 11 women from different parts of Greece.
During the design phase of this project, the intention was to combine the remoteness due to the pandemic restriction, with a more tangible aspect. Therefore, it was decided, also in accordance with the artist’s practice, to produce a kit of art objects to be delivered to the participants, and function as a source material of the workshop. The paper objects were designed by the artist in a vector based programme, and were then laser-cut. Their purpose was for the participants to interact with, to manipulate and transform them in an abstract, subjective and playful manner. The design was inspired by the various motifs and phenomena of the surface of the Earth, Sun and the Moon, as the theme of the workshop revolved around these issues. These notions were used symbolically, and were therefore connected abstractly to personal perceptions and attitudes.
The selection of the participants followed an open call addressing women with recent diagnosis of breast or/and gynecological cancer, and distributed through the organization’s channels, various cancer support organizations throughout Greece, as well as selected press. The selection criteria was recent diagnosis, equitable geographical representation and age diversity.
The workshop consisted of three weekly online group meetings and a free time in between for each participant to experiment with the material and make her own creations. The structure of the meetings followed, more or less, a certain pattern: instructions of the artist-facilitator on how to use each object, collective simultaneous creation, showing and discussing the creations of each participant. At the end, a video documentation was created by the artist combining the material sent by the participants, where the different narrations and creations intertwined.
Further information on the initiative
Themes: Culture and...
Sources of funding
Results, benefits, impact and lessons learnt
Planetary Systems workshop was realized as a pilot study under the organization’s overarching research project, titled “Arts in Health: Contemporary art with a socially engaged and participatory focus addressing patients”, supported by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. With the contribution of a social scientist, it was evaluated through assessing participants’ satisfaction and the effect of participating in an art group in their daily life, via interviews, focus groups and observation.
The goal of this pilot study was to research and record the effect of participating in an artist-led, group workshop in the quality of life of women with a recent cancer diagnosis. Bibliographical research, theoretical frameworks and tools framed the workshop throughout its implementation.
The qualitative research showed a positive impact of the workshop in the participants, as it was demonstrated during the group meetings and at the evaluation that took place after completion. Namely, enthusiasm and attraction to the material (the paper objects) were expressed, and a sense of it being a source of inspiration, expansion and self-discovery. Working with this material and the haptic relationship involved, gave many of the participants a sense of purpose and a realization of how important the process of creation is, in daily life. Finally, being part of a group and sharing, in a familiar, safe environment, was appreciated by most participants as supporting and nurturing. A sense of belonging and a strong connection was established (expanded beyond the online meetings in a digital social platform), despite the short duration of the workshop.