Mind the sex

24 February 2015

Women from the Seymour Poets worked with poet and stand-up comedian Jackie Hagan, illustrator Emma Brown Owl and researcher Kathryn Abel, to explore sex, mental health and wellbeing and express their insights in a set of digital and printed postcards. Karen Shannon from Lets Go Global tells us about the process.

Emma Brown Owl, a new emerging Manchester illustrator, was involved in the project from the beginning. She met with Jackie and some of the women at the Old Trafford Wellbeing Centre and Jackie subsequently sent transcripts of what the women were discussing on a weekly basis so that Emma could respond through her drawings.

A selection of Emma’s research during the project

The process was very fluid and there were no set instructions for Emma; just the freedom to respond to the words and to let the creativity flow. Some of the words came from a group session, others from one to one conversations that Jackie had in the cafe. We also included a questionnaire where women could feed back their views anonymously in a “Mind The Sex” post box.

The responses from the women were interpreted by artist Jackie Hagan. It was difficult to get everyone together to decide what was going to be published on the final postcard as some of the women wanted to remain anonymous because of the sensitive & personal nature of the project. It was mainly the producers and artists who decided on the seven final pieces of art work, but these decisions were shaped & influenced by everyone involved.

Some of the final postards

The women showed great strength and bravery to share such intimate stories with us and this was down to the trust they felt with working with Jackie. Her warmth, humour and talent with words made the women feel at ease and able to talk openly about their experiences of sex and mental health. They were also very excited to be part of the SexologySeason in Manchester and many will attend a trip to the theatre at contact & The Royal Exchange for the first time.

You can view all the postcards online. They will also be distributed widely to local audiences and through mental health networks for practitioners and patients. Look out for the postcards across the SexologySeason venues, Lets Go Global and at the information point in Wellcome Collection.

Karen from Lets Go Global was the artistic producer for the work, also acting as the conduit between the researcher, the group and the artists.