We’re back! Taking Around the Toilet to New Spaces

Good news! We’ve been awarded further funding from AHRC Connected Communities to continue the Around the Toilet project. We’ve called the next stage of the project: Arts, Architecture, Activism & Access: Taking Around the Toilet to New Spaces (or ‘New Spaces’).

Over the last two years, we’ve been working with various communities – including trans, queer and disabled people – to explore the ways that toilets can exclude some, whilst including others. A lack of access to suitable toilets affects people’s lives in all kinds of ways; exclusion from toilets often connects to wider social and spatial exclusion and segregation, as well as personal discomfort. The New Spaces project will focus on impact and engagement activities to help us develop this research further. The project has three strands: 1) working with queer and disability arts organisations and events internationally; 2) sharing our Toilet Toolkit design solutions with trainee architects and design professionals; and 3) exploring toilets creatively with children and young people.

Over the next year, expect to see new toilet films and appearances at local and international arts festivals; further collaboration with Architecture students and the Toilet Toolkit used in practice; as well as an expansion of Storying School Toilets through art workshops with children and young people with learning difficulties and an exhibition of their work.

We’re still committed to expanding our collaboration and communication with grassroots campaigns, activism and communities, whilst also working with organisations who are making decisions about toilet design. Feedback at our project events reminded us of the importance of taking our findings to schools, so we’re also looking forward to the new collaborations which will come through our work with children and young people.

New Spaces will include collaboration between members of Drake Music, Purple Patch Arts, Tabú, Project Re•Vision, The Wisdom Factory, Public Toilets UK, Truckers’ Toilets UK, Action for Trans Health, Queer of the Unknown, and Live Works, as well as three UK universities.

As always, we’d love to hear from other people who are interested in the New Spaces project or are doing toilet campaigns, activism or research of their own. Get in touch with feedback, ideas, or just to say hello. You can also keep track of our progress on Twitter: @cctoilettalk and #cctoilettalk.

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Travelling Toilet Tales Film Release

Imagine a world without toilets: How would you go to school, college or university; take a trip to the park; wander around a shopping centre; go to work; or get on a long-distance train? Using the stories of people whose access to toilets is compromised in some way, this film explores how our ability to get out and about is transformed by the availability of toilets: featuring parents of disabled children who require full-length changing benches, non-binary people who are subject to abuse in gendered toilets, people with irritable bowel syndrome who might need to use a toilet with urgency, and women truck-drivers who work for long stretches without a toilet in sight, amongst others.

In our research for the Around the Toilet project, trans, queer and disabled participants shared with us their difficulties in finding toilets that were functional, easily locatable and safe. One trans woman described how her ability to socialise and go to work was limited by her access to toilets; she explained that when she felt unsafe to use public toilets, she was unable to leave the security of her house. The toilet ‘extends to everywhere’, she said, and accessible and comfortable toilets allowed her to take necessary, everyday journeys away from home. We wanted to think more about these journeys, and the importance of toilets in the seemingly mundane routines of some people’s lives.

Over the last five months, we met with a range of toilet-users and asked them to share their stories with us. Some recorded themselves from home, others recorded their stories when they were out for the day or chatted to one of our team about their experiences. This film is an edited collection of these stories, in which key moments have been highlighted in a ‘soundscape’ by Gemma Nash and animated by Sarah Smizz. The individual stories are also available to listen to and read in full here.

Toilet Utopias: Successful further funding!

We’re very pleased to announce that the Around the Toilet project has recently been awarded two funding grants by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This will allow us to continue the work we started in 2015, carry out new research over the next four months, and participate in the 2016 Connected Communities Research Festival Utopia Fair in London in June, where the outputs of our research will be exhibited.

Our first project, ‘Travelling Toilet Tales’ (led by Jenny Slater) will be an exploration into the ways in which everyday journeys are planned around the un/availability of a suitable toilet. We will be making an animated film based upon people’s experiences of these ‘toilet journeys’: journeys that can’t be taken due to a lack of a suitable toilet, journeys that are re-planned due to a lack of a toilet, imagined journeys based on an ideal world with the best possible toilets… or something else entirely!

This project is a collaboration with Gemma Nash from Drake Music, an organisation working in music, disability and technology, and Sarah Smizz, the graphic artist who drew the stories told in the Around the Toilet workshops we facilitated last year. Our collaborators will transform the toilet tales provided by our storytellers into a soundscape overlaid with animation. This will be presented as a film exploring toilets, place and utopian imaginings to be shown at events and exhibitions, and available online. Details about where you can view the film will be announced in the forthcoming months.

We are also very pleased to be working with Morag Rose of the Loiterers’ Resistance Movement, who will be facilitating a city walk in Manchester around the theme of public toilets and urban space.

Our second project, running in parallel with the first, is ‘Servicing Utopia’ (led by Lisa Procter). Working alongside MA Architect students, Niki Sole and Suki Sehmbi, we will be facilitating workshops which ask attendees to engage with and construct a digital ‘Toilet Toolkit’ (the main project output). The digital/visual toolkit will be aimed at architects to promote the accessible design of toilet spaces.

We will also be making an animated film over the course of the project, documenting insights from the project workshops with architects to illustrate key themes relating to toilet and accessibility.

The films, toilet toolkit and other outputs from both projects will be previewed on 24th-26th June at the Utopia Fair, Somerset House, London, a public event showcasing a range of academic and artistic projects that engage with the subject of ‘utopia’. This year’s theme takes inspiration from the 500th anniversary of the publication in 1516 in Latin of Thomas More’s Utopia. From March to June 2016 the Festival is supporting activities across the UK bringing together researchers and communities to creatively explore diverse perspectives on community futures and what ‘utopia’ means for communities in the 21st Century.

We’re very excited to get started – please keep an eye on our progress by checking the blog and twitter, as usual!

Jen, Lisa, Emily and Charlotte

@cctoilettalk
#cctoilettalk

 

Connected Communities

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