James Corbett is an English teacher. He’s quite ordinary
really. And yet here he is, on day 37 of a 46 day walk from Glasgow to London, collecting
signatures for his petition
to save the core of the NHS.
“I didn’t know or understand about the changes to the 2012 Health
and Social Care Act until quite recently. It removes the legal responsibility of
the sec of state for the diagnosis, treatment, and care of UK citizens. That
means that it’s not the govt’s duty anymore to protect our health. It opens the door to private companies to
come and make money from us when we are suffering. They’re concerned about
their shareholders rather than the patients. This major change wasn’t included in
the Tory party manifesto of 2010. The social care bill had already been drafted
– this omission was snide. It feels like a sly move. This made me realise that
I was going to walk, I was going to get on my feet.
“One of the reasons I started from Glasgow is because my
good friend Donny (from Glasgow) – his wife has cancer. She’s very, very ill.
She’s suffering. My neighbour’s son has cerebal palsy. One of my closest friends
spent 4 months in hospital. And what unites them all is that they didn’t have
to worry about the financial implications of their treatment. An Americanised
health care system would have financially crushed them. With Donald Trump discussing
the NHS as part of a trade deal, are the vultures circling?”
I’ve seen passionate people standing outside Chorley Hospital
for years, campaigning for a 24 hours A+E. What I am doing in comparison is
nothing. I was inspired by the Chartists, by the Jarrow marchers. The 7 point
Charter got rejected twice – but here we are in 2019 with 6 of the 7 points now
in effect. I am simply a delivery boy for the petition, I am carrying a message.
I couldn’t have got this far without the overwhelming support of all the people
out there whom I have met and spoken to who really care about the NHS. The NHS
actually really unites us all, no matter our political persuasion; UK citizens
are really passionate about the NHS and what it stands for.”
Substance misuse workers employed by the charity Addaction struck last week, after management refused to honour a two percent pay rise following the NHS Agenda for Change pay rate increase. This had been promised after former NHS workers were TUPED over to the charity. There had been last minute talks at ACAS earlier – negotiations that had been unable to resolve the dispute.
There were lively pickets outside Addaction’s offices in Leigh and Wigan. The strike was well supported by Wigan Trade Council, and there were banners from the local RMT branch, Salford Unison and others.
One worker who wished to remain anonymous said “We love our work and make a crucial contribution to the care of some of the most vulnerable people in our community. In desperation, we are taking strike action to fight for the pay we were promised for the vital work we perform.”
Another worker said “We were promised and reassured that there would be no changes in our conditions of service. Everything would remain the same, we were assured, and we would receive our rise like the rest of the NHS workforce. After ten years of austerity a two percent rise will not restore our levels of pay. We must fight this, because if we don’t the management will see this as a weakness and they will come for our holidays and pensions like the rest of the public sector. We must use every method to win including the legal path and more strikes if necessary.”
Another worker said “this is a charity and it certainly doesn’t begin at home – except paying very high salaries to those at the top”.
Management have finally agreed to talks this week .
Lucy Grainge and Juliette Duffy are setting out to create a new type of magazine…one based on engaging with the therapeutic and transformative nature of storytelling, centred on mental health and politics. The latest issue is titled CONFRONTATIONS. We interviewed Juliette to discuss what role art and storytelling can have in empowering people.
What made you start Psyche?
We started Psyche as a collaborative project in our final year studying Communication Design at the Glasgow School of Art. I had been working on zines exploring philosophy, psychology, politics and themes relating to the human condition. Lucy was focusing on illustration and word play, exploring cognitive learning processes with a particular interest in Dyslexia and different learning styles from linear/non linear to visual and numerical. We were both keen to take on larger editorial projects and felt there was a cross over in subject matter and interests – it seemed obvious that if we teamed up we could make a publication that was more sophisticated than any zine we could make independently.
Mental health/ill-health among students has become such an urgent issue, do you think having
more student and issue-based publications can challenge the structures at
universities and colleges?
I think more platforms and voices are always a positive presence on
campuses. From our experience there wasn’t much in terms of publishing
within GSA, from the student population or the institution. There was more of a
focus on illustration or photography, and we felt the lack of written
publications didn’t reflect the amount of students who used writing as part of
their practice. So we created a space that gave students a chance
to submit creative and academic writing to discuss issues impacting their lives
and student experience. What came of this tended to be personal experiences, often relating to
mental health, and ultimately inner worlds.
I think student based publications can be an effective way to galvanise, communicate and capture the feelings of a student population at a point in time. I suppose printed matter is in a sense more permanent than certain types of protest. Schools/universities are feeling more like businesses, which should not be the case, and has a huge knock on effect. As a class we spent much of our last year trying to gain better workshop access and affordable printing facilities at GSA. There are multiple ways of challenging university structures, but yes, we believe student-led publications are one way of doing this.
It is so important to have writing in circulation
that has an opinion and takes a stance, has something to stand for. Not just the safe functional institutional information dissemination –
which are often beautiful and fit
for their purpose, but that wasn’t where our interests lay. We wanted to make
something that had no set discourse, but rather it would be driven by the thoughts that were the most
pressing to our contributors.
Art is such a great communicator of oppression and struggle, what do you think can help bring more voices in the creative industry and do you think women’s oppression is being addressed?
It’s interesting that you’ve focused on the female run aspect. As we did have this conversation early on. We never wanted Psyche to come across as a women’s magazine or a purely feminist publication. (Fem Soc existed in GSA at this time – their zine was more imagery and some poetry), as we didn’t want anyone to be discouraged or feel excluded. We wanted people of all lived experiences, of all identities to feel they could engage with our project. As this was the only way that we can get an honest picture of the issues impacting our peers.
I think, sometimes, when these spaces are created as ‘queer’, ‘feminist’, ‘socialist’ – although we absolutely are all of these things – it can be off putting to those who are just curious or don’t necessarily identify with the given labels for the context yet/or who choose not to. So we wanted to avoid labels and to focus on individual inner worlds and lived experience which ultimately would lead people to discuss class, gender, race but that didn’t demand it of people, or to demand that a contributor had to be well read or educated on these matters. We wanted it to be a space for people to be honest and to learn from each other through storytelling.We wanted people to talk about their inner worlds and the outer world that shaped it, or in other words the socio-political conditions that shape the experience of every individual. We did not want to hold people to standards that were too high, and avoid the judgemental mentally of cancel culture which is all too prevalent in the creative industries at present.
And the other side of this was the fact that Lucy and myself (Juliette) were just learning through doing – we were not claiming to be an academic authority on any of the the subject matter but we were interested and curious and wanted to open up the conversation about things we knew were important.
for our experience as women in the creative industry, evidently it is still
male dominated, particularly graphic design, yet art schools have always had a larger
female student population. Which makes you wonder where all these art school
educated women disappear to after graduation. All too often women in the
creative industry aren’t taken seriously, revealing an insidious misogyny that
is still alive and well in areas of the industry. However, there has always
been and continues to be women challenging this bias, from the all girl
collectives focusing on women in art, design and the music industry, and
initiatives such as the famous Gorilla Girls, to the hey52GIRLS and Girls Rock
Glasgow. Women in the industry tend to take matters into their own hands, we
have so many friends and peers starting exciting projects and platforms to
create supportive environments or act as inspiration for female creatives, such
as Ladies Wine and Design, VAJ power, & magazine, Colab Collective, and
illustrators such as Laura Callaghan and Nanni-Paa who explore what being a
woman today means.
Your latest issue of Psyche was based on ‘confrontations’, what was the basis to this?
Honestly, with all the Brexit debates, tumultuous political landscapes with UKIP, the DUP, Anti-immigration sentiments radiating from the media, Lucy and I felt a tone of hostility across our outer social political landscape. We wanted to take the obvious political world idea of conflict and confrontations and stretch this to be interpreted as broadly as people desired. So instead of just conflict and confrontations in terms of verbal debate, antagonism and violence – it could be explored in terms of confronting personal beliefs, or confrontation in relationships, as well as physical confrontations or opposing societal expectations.
We felt that after our pilot issue, that had no specific theme, it would be good to confront ideas that could be divisive in our second issue.
You have tried to bring together a vast range of contributors, including social workers. What do you think social work can learn from art/artists?
My perception of social work – having a few as close friends and family
members – I understand that the relationship you can build with clients is the
most important aspect of making a positive change in their lives. Hence why the
job is often emotionally exhausting and even traumatising. Often when
communication breaks down, or if it is hard to establish, creative outlets can
offer a way for people to express themselves, particularly vulnerable individuals.
I think protecting creative activities, whether visual art or music or writing,
as well as the performance arts is so so imperative for well-being.
The societal structure of the state that determines our means of education
operates on such a linear formula that excludes so many learning styles and
therefore fails many individuals. I think it is criminally counterintuitive to
impose harsh cuts on creative education/industry funding.
Neville Brody articulates this very well regarding how misguided the
attitude towards the value of creative education – I also feel this is
applicable to social care.
‘It’s neanderthal. This current government are studying Victorian models and they believe in the mechanisation of society, which means that everyone has a place and a cog… and this is the way they keep the status quo. It’s about funneling funds from the poorer to the richest. They don’t want to educate a freewheeling proletariat. You have to keep the factory running.’
It is incredibly short sighted to leave art out of education and social care.
I think given the categorical need for human connection in social work, art should be a go-to in terms of fostering communication and expression. Art exists once all of our basic needs have been met, hence why it is a product of our higher selves and can be a transformative and healing force.
I really enjoyed seeing a serious magazine finished in a really
creative way that didn’t lose the content, do you think professionalism can
hinder the artistic process?
Perhaps, in the sense that a magazine is such a familiar format that there’s already such defined expectations on what a
magazine should look like. Very early on we
realised we could not or did not feel comfortable illustrating other people’s experiences, so we
decided that our illustrations throughout, would be our reaction to the theme.
This instantly creates a different feel to the usual format of a magazine,
where there will be a number of different illustrators and visual styles
Psyche independently also means we
don’t have any set rules for it and are often questioning how it could evolve
and change. Coming from an illustration and graphic
design background the design and aesthetic is very important to us and a great
source of fun.
What other projects have influenced Psyche?
Lucy and I are big fans of all
things printed matter. Many current mags and independent books have influenced us both visually and conceptually. We would like to give a notable mention to a few
mental health mags we really admire – Anxy, Ladybeard and NOUS. All of which explore the
intersections of the mind, culture and society in unique,
insightful and beautifully designed ways.
Social Work is in a crisis at the moment due to austerity and cuts to services, creative spending has seen a reduction also. What does the future hold for sustainable arts projects?
future is uncertain as funding cuts can put crippling pressure on great
initiatives, social enterprises and small independent projects. Lucy earns a
portion of her living working in community based initiatives such as Impact
Arts, a community arts organisation which uses the arts and creativity to
enable and empower social change. She recently had to leave the project she was
on as the funding was not there this year for her role. So these organisation’s
are forced to downsize, meaning staff lose their jobs and fewer members of the
community can reap the benefits of the service. Though on a positive note –
Impact Arts have recently secured funding for many more great projects they
works across projects with young people and most recently with the Craft Café
in Govan, which is a community group for over 65’s who meet to do a range of
arts and crafts. The Craft Cafe offers support to members of the elderly
community, who may be suffering from alienation and loneliness and has become a
much loved social hub. These projects also create spaces where people come
together, who then go onto create more community initiatives and share further
events happening in the local area. At the launch of our issue 2, we had Annie
from the Craft Café speak about loneliness in older people. Annie spoke of the
Craft Café saving her life after a period of instability. Through the support
of the tutors at the Craft Café she has gone on to hold talks at Kinning Park
Complex and the Scottish Socialist Party about Climate Change. She also started
the Befriending Food Service, where Annie and her partner Sonny, visit isolated
older people – some of whom haven’t left their homes in months – to cook for
them, and have hosted multiple community group meals.
for small independent projects like Psyche, funding comes in many forms. We
have relied heavily on crowd funding through Kickstarter, some funding from
non-profits that support eco friendly and sustainable projects, and support
through advertising in the magazine as well as sponsorship and discounted costs
for things like paper through GF Smith. Our printing costs were also discounted
as part of the Creative Scotland under 25’s funding of Out of the Blue Print.
would not have been possible without crowd funding though, which not only
raised funds for printing, it raised our profile and outreach. We hope as each
issue goes on we will become more financially independent but for now we could
not do what we do without the generosity of organisations and individuals. In
short we haven’t cracked a sustainable model yet, but finding help from
multiple sources and letting the financial challenges test our creativity is
the way we persevere.
There has been massive movement around Extinction Rebellion, which has seen people paint messages on public spaces. Does public protest art need to resurface?
Yes, I am all for politicised public spaces, there’s an energy that builds momentum
in struggle when we engage in public spaces. Public spaces are so commercial
and watered down. I am keen to see authenticity and a public voice that
reflects the lives of the individuals making the art. So yes, I want to see
more public protest art. It’s all about communication and expression ultimately
– which is why we wanted to make a platform for these sorts of
things. There isn’t much difference between publishing papers or painting on
walls in terms of the dissemination of an idea.
What’s the future for Psyche?
We’re still very much in the slower period after the second issue, taking some time off to reflect and enjoy
the summer. We worked on issue 2 alongside our full time work, for around a
year and half. It was pretty full
on for both of us. Moving forward, it is
essential for us to find a way to make Psyche
sustainable in every sense – financially, time wise and even emotionally, as burn out has been a reality for us both.
We’ve had a great response from
the second issue so far with lots of messages of support, encouragement and
people telling us they have connected to Psyche in a way which makes it
all worth it. With creating a magazine, there is always something to do and now
we need to try and get it out there in stockists etc. Our second issue sold
out in Printed Matter, New York, and
they are already wanting to restock and take it to NY Art book Fair. With the
power of instagram we have realised the scope of how far away you can reach an
audience, we have been posting Psyches all over the world which is so exciting and only proves the universality of the themes within. It’s great to see how something that started as a Glasgow student zine can
have an impact on an Australian, American or a Portuguese audience.
Next we will be thinking about
the theme of issue three. We’d love to host more events and bring the platform
into a physical space more often. Just now I am based in London and Lucy in
Glasgow, this brings challenges and opens up new opportunities to have two
cities as a base. So we will have to see what happens!