ADDICT: the Storm that Strands Us

ADDICT explored how an artistic inquiry might generate original understandings of the process of recovery from addiction. In the project lead researcher, lens based artist Melanie Manchot worked together with people in early recovery in four treatment settings in England over a six month period. They included: the Ley Community – Oxford, SHARP – Liverpool, Hope House – London and people from Manchester’s recovery community. The artist’s research was supported by a monthly collaborative discussion group in which the practice was addressed from a range of interdisciplinary positions including: curator, Mark Prest, addiction psychotherapist Tim Leighton – Action on Addiction and social scientist & Dr Alastair Roy from the Psychosocial Research Unit at UCLAN.

The process of making art with participants in direct response to their recovery experiences was a central project aim, in which making art was conceived out of dialogue and engagement.

Portraiture was the main conceptual approach used to map the recovery process, shifts in identity and subject formation. In the sessions, a range of practices (letter writing, performing, group film making, portraiture) were used as tools for self-expression and as foundations for the development of a final art work. The projects methodology, lines of inquiry and practices mirrored the recovery process by attempting to put participants in control of their own representation.

In response to the projects findings a new artwork Twelve is to be commissioned from Manchot for a national exhibitions tour launching in 2015.

ADDICT was financially supported by Small Arts Awards from the Wellcome Trust.