20/20 Visions

In early 2015 quarto successfully tendered for the role of ‘graphic recorder’ on the Corrymeela Community’s 20/20 Visions project. 20/20 Visions aims to facilitate conversations among individuals and groups across Northern Ireland (and in the Republic of Ireland) on the basis of Appreciative Enquiry. In a climate of disillusionment and disengagement with party politics, the hope is that these conversations – recognising problems, but dwelling on how communities are living well together – would engender a sense of empowerment and energy within civil society.

I took on the job of graphic recording of the conversations. My background is in art practice and cultural geography, and I tend to make use of text and the visual conventions of mapping in my work. I also like to map thought processes through open-ended and mutable collections of drawings. As the workshops took place, I settled into a methodology. First, I tried to respond to each place in terms of topography (rivers were a theme), weather, season and time of day (or night). This allowed me to get some colour and imagery down on paper as the conversation began to unfold. Second, I listened to what was being said around me, and made use of these overheard fragments in the drawings. It was a quiet way of being part of the workshops, and one I enjoyed.

My aim was to reflect back what I had heard and understood of the thoughts, concerns and feelings of the participants at the end of each workshop. More widely, I want the collection of drawings to offer a strong sense of human voices in conversation in place. I have supplemented the text-based drawings with ones based on maps of the places in which conversations took place. Though each conversational fragment is anonymous and in a sense general, each is a verbatim quote. I hope they evoke real, particular and idiomatic voices.

Participants from 20/20 Visions conversations came together at Corrymeela this last weekend to reflect, connect and plan the next steps in the 20/20 Visions process. I showed whole collection of drawings there, as a means of thinking about what has been said and where those words should go. The drawings will be shown again at Corrymeela’s forthcoming politics conference in June 2016.