OK yesterday was the opening of Clare Haven- Behind Closed Doors- Hidden Truths

Here is the speech I wrote for the opening night. I don’t give many speeches :)

‘Hello and welcome etc etc. I am one of the project managers for the installation. Paul Corey is the other project Manager- he and I have worked together on various projects over the last few years and he first contacted me about this particular project in February 2021.

These words from the initial brief sent by Siobhan resonated with me throughout the project:

“Domestic abuse is not a newspaper story or tv news bulletin, it is not something that happens to those kinds of people or to other people, It is not something that malicious women make-up to punish an ex or get a free house or benefits. It is something that happened to you, to someone you love, to someone you know, to someone you meet daily. It is happening now and our societal structures and systems enable it, allow it and encourage it. “

It was the ‘ordinaryness’ and normalness of domestic abuse that struck me as compelling and awful. As artists and creatives we wanted to use our skillsets to set out the facts and the information surrounding domestic abuse in a different way. We wanted to use the power of art to get the message across in a way that people will understand and remember.

Part of our research for the project included talking to members of the Clare Haven Team, and these conversations ended up being the basis for a lot of the ideas that you will see in the show. Every time we spoke with the team we would come away pretty overwhelmed by what we would have learnt. We realised that this is a standard reaction that the ‘public’ will have to domestic abuse as it is hard to comprehend the many complexities of how people find themselves in a domestic abuse situation and also the sheer scale of the problem.

So our challenge was to reinterpret this information into a creative, multi-sensory experience that people would understand, and also be artistically inspired by and emotionally impacted by. We realised that the people who would come to see our show would likely be the same as we were when researching this project- unaware of the realities of domestic abuse today. Therefore we decided to highlight the elements that we felt would best educate and open people eyes to this reality.

It would not be possible to illustrate every element of domestic abuse and who it affects and how, so we decided to highlight some of the commonalities that many people will experience through exposure to domestic abuse. For example; we chose to show domestic abuse through the eyes of a child, another theme was what sustained verbal abuse will do to someone, also the reasons why someone doesn’t just leave an abusive relationship, and the endless red tape that surrounds a woman when she tries to leave an abusive relationship.

We have tried to show the resilience and bravery that it takes to stay functioning when in an abusive relationship, and have included a ‘room of hope’ to remind people of the incredible work that Clare Haven continue to do – and that they are there as a service 24 hours a day for those who need them.

It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work on this project and Paul and I want to thank our team and all of the Clare Haven staff and all of those people who so generously helped us throughout the project.’

I will post again about the process of making and my experience later