University of Reading: Students’ Lockdown Experience Part Of Artistic Self-Care Showcase


A film portraying the variety of ways University of Reading students coped during the Covid-19 lockdown is part of an upcoming series of artistic activities focusing on different aspects of ‘care’.

In the film, titled Waiting for Flowers to Bloom, six students relay their experiences of self care during lockdown, explaining techniques they adopted through different forms of artistic expression.

The project is one of several in a new Reading Assembly: Care programme on 27-28 May, which is inviting members of the public to join online workshops and discussions with artists and social researchers, and share their own memories and stories of care.

The diverse range of virtual activities also includes a performance telling the struggles of a group of mothers juggling work alongside childcare during lockdown; a live sound-based session in which refugees in Reading delve into what caring for ourselves and others really means; and a student workshop on how to add a creative twist to lockdown daily walks.

“This project seeks to make everyday acts of care that we all experience visible, through a broad range of artistic means.” – Dr Anna Kontopoulou, School of Art

Dr Anna Kontopoulou, in the School of Art at the University of Reading who is leading the programme, said: “Caring means different things to different people, whether it be the way we look after ourselves during hard times like the pandemic, or a government’s duty of care to the vulnerable. This project seeks to make everyday acts of care that we all experience visible, through a broad range of artistic means.

“Whether you were a parent with young children trying to work from home during lockdown, or are just interested in new ways of dealing with difficult experiences or helping others, there is an activity for you on this varied and creative programme.”

Reading Assembly: Care is an artistic research platform that connects grass roots community groups, artists, educators, academic researchers and Art, Film, Theatre & Television and Architecture students at the University of Reading, to jointly explore issues around ‘care’.

Waiting for Flowers to Bloom consists of footage filmed by the students of physical activities they undertook during lockdown to boost their moods and health, such as yoga and meditation, footage from a Zoom chat in which they discuss these activities and their struggles, and individual artistic responses to their experiences.

“We hope that viewers will be able to empathise with our ideas of self-care and gain some insight into how other people have been coping during lockdown.” – Emma Narita, MA Creative Enterprise, Theatre Pathway student

Emma Narita, one of the Film, Theatre and Television students involved in the film, said self-isolation during the pandemic had been ‘scary’ at times. She said: “The main challenge we have faced collectively during lockdown is isolation, whether it is for us students or anyone else.

“Although our film specifically engages with student experiences, the themes we explore are fairly universal and we hope that viewers will be able to empathise with our ideas of self-care and gain some insight into how other people have been coping during lockdown.”

Partners in the Reading Assembly programme include international groups of artists, Reading Refugee Support Group, Purple Stars, and young mental health organisation Compass Recovery College.

The activities programme will also mark the launch of a new hub, with all the works and projects presented in a shareable format and providing a long-lasting platform that inspires new ideas.

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