Melanie Manchot (by Joanna Pocock)
I came across Melanie’s work before I met her. It was 2004 and I had been told of a show on London’s Hackney Road called Moscow Girls—a suite of nine images of young Russian women with accompanying recordings. Shortly after that, I discovered her film Kiss. Since then, her work has continued to make me a better observer. The formal complexity in Melanie’s photographs, films and installations never gets in the way of her deep probing of the very human stories that lie below and beyond the image.
When she invited me to collaborate in the very early stages of Twelve, I unhesitatingly said ‘yes’. During the process of getting to know the participants in this project and in formulating a methodology to best bring their narratives out into the world, I was struck by Melanie’s approach: respectful, thoughtful, and seeing beyond first thoughts towards uncharted terrain, while the whole time retaining a sense of joy in the process.
Melanie defamiliarises the familiar: a ski resort is a whole cosmology, a kiss is a life story, a dance is a journey as much towards life as death, and images of her mother become images of women across the centuries, ones we have known, have become, and are yet to know or become.
Information about her other works can be found on her website here.
Joanna Pocock (by Melanie Manchot)
Writer and Editor
Joanna’s critical and passionate relationship to literature, cinema and documentary film make her an exciting person with which to discuss ideas on narrative, filmic structure, and the politics of representation.
Joanna is a writer. Her novels and short stories display a deep understanding of narratology, using the subtlety of language to make fictitious people live in the minds of her readers. Her ability to shape and manipulate language like a sculptor allows her to write across different disciplines and to imbue psychological range to her characters and their situations.
In the early stages of Twelve, Joanna was my accomplice and creative dialogue partner, contributing invaluable ideas to the workshops we set up to start off the conversations that became this work.
In addition to her novels, Joanna writes art and film criticism, non-fiction essays, short stories, thoughts on life.
Some of her published work can be found here.
Cath (by Stephen Giddings)
Catherine Emberton is a beautiful soul. A very special woman. I have felt a strong (I believe destined) connection to her since we met. She has been down a path in her life which took her to dark corners and gave her great pain. This pain and experience is now her gift to others to share. I believe to go to these dark rooms was her destiny as she now is someone who solely lives her life helping others who are trapped in these places she has been. I have never witnessed anybody who is more selfless than Catherine. She has a light inside her that inspires others and gives off pure love and truth. Catherine has played a huge part in my journey and my successes in my recovery. She has also been there to listen to my pain. I am very blessed to have this woman in my life.
Joyce (by Cath)
Joyce Rice is a beautiful woman inside and out with the heart of a survivor. Her journey has been one of loss and difficult times but above all this she has powerful determination, which makes me feel very honoured to be her friend and trusted confidante. She doesn’t trust easily. I love her very deeply. Her sense of humour and her giving heart are always a breath of fresh air to be around. She absolutely is a force of nature. I wish she could see herself through my eyes. She is a powerful woman.
Leon (by Joyce)
What can I say: he is just like a ray of sunshine. If Leon were a flower he would be a daffodil!! Bright and sunny, a fantastic artist and a real deep soul and warm heart, he makes me smile, he’s funny and has a very mischievous grin.
Robbie (by Leon)
I first met and got to know Robbie like the other sharp graduates when we first hooked up for this project about 2 years ago, they had all been in treatment together thus had already bonded. I sparked a connection with Robbie and identified in many areas the fact we have both DJ’d for a living in the past, in big clubs – the high life!? We also shared a lot of the pain, trauma, dysfunction, abuse and suffering pre-addiction and where that took us – often lonely and I guess through our own sensitivities and fears took a while to trust one another, I feel Robbie felt safer around the girls, I identified with that too. Robbie struck me as a confident, achiever, go getter often overly busy – beneath this I see a beautiful soul, with a big heart – someone whos willing and desires change from the dysfunction that had been masked over/once was. I see an innocent boy facing his fears that he’d pushed down or pretended weren’t there – whilst there has been a lot of questioning, letting go and coming out – I see the growth and confidence and how he is using his past to help others which is a gift in itself and testament to the gentleman, Robbie.
Stephen Disley (by Robbie)
Stephen Diz is a brave and courageous, compassionate man who inspired me to carry on. Ste is a survivor who taught me to have faith and trust. Ste is without doubt a huge part of my personal recovery. Although I might not see Ste all a time. I will remain `intuitively connected’.
Alastair Roy (by Tim Leighton)
Reader in Psychosocial Research, Psychosocial Research Unit, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire
Ali was one of three in our discussion group which met as part of the project – our conversations were entwined with and became an un shown part of the work. He struck me as very intellectually curious and able to encompass multiple perspectives. In a way an outsider (no personal experience of addiction), he seemed perhaps quite quiet in our conversations, but paradoxically he was able in my view to combine the distanced positioning of the researcher with the emotional engagement of a caring and committed person. As a social scientist, many of Ali’s comments were of great interest to me, as someone moving from a psychological academic viewpoint to a more sociological one. I enjoyed disputing with him occasionally as well, which in the context of a heart-felt project, could feel quite emotional. His published work is carefully written and contributes usefully to the field: I am enjoying reading it.
Tim Leighton (by Alastair Roy)
Director of Professional Education and Research Action on Addiction, The Centre for Addiction Treatment Studies
When I think of Tim in the context of theTwelve project the image that comes to my mind is of his iPad. Many of the conversations we had in the course of our inter-professional dialogue would lead Tim to recall a particular paper which was stored on the device.
The image is hence emblematic of the ways in which Tim brought his experience and knowledge into the discussions. These proved to be a key resource for the group and for Mel in particular in re-framing the ideas that were emerging from her own work.
Mark Prest (by Mark Segal)
Director and Founder of PORe
Mark Prest founded Portraits of Recovery in 2011, which is an organisation supporting people and communities in recovery from substance abuse. They do this by working with contemporary visual arts and artists, building upon Mark’s previous experience as a curator at Leicester City Art Gallery. Mark brings experience of addiction, along with a deep knowledge of the recovery sector. He works in partnership with other arts organisations, the professional medical community as well as a wide range of recovery focused organisations and communities both in this country and abroad. He is both an advocate for and a passionate believer in people in recovery, making a real and critical difference, through culture, in promoting a positive understanding of addiction and the challenges around recovery.
For more Information on PORe visit their website here.
Mark Segal (by Mark Prest)
Director of TheArtistsAgency
Mark Segal is the creative force behind theartistsagency, which supports, advises and represents a range of individually diverse, selected artists. Mark is committed to and passionate about the role and value of the arts and artists within society. The agency provides a platform for advocacy, artist profile and career enhancement, project proposal and funding strategy development, including acting as a cultural interface for the brokering of new cross sector relationships.
As Director of ArtSway until his departure in 2011 he established an exhibitions & engagement programme of national/international significance, which included exhibition contributions to the Venice Biennale between 2003 and 2011. He has written for a number of arts journals and organisations including a-n and ArtQuest, was chair of Turning Point South East and works on a regular basis as a specialist advisor to the Arts University of Bournemouth and Corn Exchange, Newbury. All underpinned by his extensive visual arts knowledge, networks and excellent project management and communication skills.
For more Information on TheArtistsAgency, click here.
Bevis Bowden (by Tim Bowditch)
I only really know Bevis through a production context. He is normally the cinematographer and I am usually recording a bit of sound, assisting with camera or lighting. We are a small crew. The days are generally long and the conditions are rarely controllable. This is where Bevis thrives. His mountaineer background and years experience of filming in wild places makes him completely adaptable to whatever the situation throws up. Nothing is ever too complicated and he always has the necessary equipment to facilitate it. I am always excited about the prospect of working with him as I know I will learn something valuable, things that can be applied outside of the production environment too. He is also more than capable of having school boy fun.
Bevis sets the precedent when it comes to looking after equipment. He is meticulous. I take his lead but am still embarrassed when he gracefully re coils a mic lead I spent some time on or packs the car with the skill of a Tetris master.
Dependable sometimes feels like a bit of a lame term for somebody, suggesting safety but perhaps no risks or excitement. This is not the case. He is dynamic. Being trustworthy is a great corner stone that allows the freedom to take risks, risks sometimes required to make compelling work.
Tim Bowditch (by Bevis Bowden)
First Camera Assistant
Tim is a safe pair of hands. I remember a moment of perfect synchronicity, no words or instructions were necessary. Focus was pulled instinctively. We switched leads as the action developed. At times camera followed focus, then the lead would switch, and focus would follow camera. The result: a beautiful camera sequence that was never late or early in its moment.