WONDERLAND: the art of becoming human

Cristina Nunez - Wonderland Makers
© Cristina Nuñez

Wonderland is a co-produced arts project exploring the utopian impulses of recovery.

As researchers and participants we are interested in how the arts and artistic research can help us to understand the recovering person’s inner landscape, allowing us to share our vulnerabilities and contribute to mutually supportive, resilient and connected communities. We are especially interested in how experiences of recovery mirror wider social utopian impulses – the ability to hold out hope for a better present and future?

Ad­diction is a ‘feelings illness’ that rarely resolves itself with the end of active using – “from time to time, self-destruction still tries to seduce me”. The recovery movement espouses col­lective emancipatory principles – e.g. “I can’t, but together we can get well” We believe that the path of recovery is utopian, fuelled by a desire for change that relies on constant renewal.

The project focuses on photography and portraiture. Our lead artist, Cristina Nuñez is an expert in the self-portrait, having initiated the SELF-PORTRAIT EXPERIENCE . Cristina teaches her self-portrait method all over the world.

Our project is collaboration between Manchester School of Art (P.I. Dr Amanda Ravetz), and PORe – Portraits of Recovery (Director Mark Prest), artists Cristina Nuñez and Huw Wahl, and participants from the north-west region of the UK who are in longer-term recovery. Everyone involved has some kind of recovery experience, whether from substance mis-use, or as someone affected by substance mis-use and/or mental health issues.

The research project has been funded by the AHRC as part of the Utopian Festival under the Connected Communities strand. Art work produced by the artists and participants will be shown at Somerset house during the Utopian Fair from 24 – 26 June 2016 with interactive sessions for the visiting public involving self portraiture.