Introducing… Deborah Ward, CoResist Collaborator
Alongside the multitude of talented artists, designers, painters, illustrators, film-makers and web developers based in Hamilton House, there are a number of collectives running exciting projects from the building. One of these is CoResist, who facilitate interactive, performance-based workshops and exhibitions, as well as staging protests, all of which are designed to empower participants and audience members alike.
Deborah Ward, the newest member of the collective, got involved three months ago and draws on her background as a theatre producer to support their work. She explains that the group is currently made of “five core educators, artists, activists” whose main aim is to “create art as transformative process to engage the community in issues often involving social injustices” as well as using art as a way “to transform and empower on a personal level”.
This sense of combatting injustice animates the collective, putting the ‘resist’ in their name. For instance, unlike many art spaces or events which accept sponsorship from companies involved in the extraction of fossil fuels, the group refuses any such sponsorship on principle.
But injustice can also be combatted in more day-to-day settings. As Deborah puts it, the group uses “performance tools as an offering to people to tell their stories” and are open to everyone, regardless of whether they have any background in performance or not.
Examples of current projects include trans/forms “which is an art project led by transgender people, creating interactive art and performance over 10 days, [exploring] perceptions of transgender identity in this culture.” Symbiosis, meanwhile, is intended to create a conversation about ecological impact with policy-makers across Bristol.
Due to their commitment to empowerment and participation, the collective is keen “to contribute to widening the possibilities of the kinds of people that use this space”. Reflecting on the conversations that are currently happening within Coexist in terms of widening access and participation, Deborah remarks on the contrast between the intention of Hamilton House, as an open and inclusive space, and some people’s perception of it as a place that can be hard to access.
Deborah remains passionate about the transformative possibilities of the workshops she helps facilitate. CoResist currently run two workshops in the building, which have received positive feedback so far. Aisha Ali, a teacher who took part in the workshops said of Deborah’s approach: “Your guidance is thoughtful and thought-provoking and I appreciate the way you lead. I feel very inspired!” Likewise, Deborah feels that “people coming to the storytelling and clowning workshops are just really inspiring to be around because they pick up on the creative tools straight away” adding that participants are “ready and hungry for ideas and new ways of performing, new ways of telling stories, new ways of discovering their own self and how they want to express themselves on stage”.