Carolyn Carrie Westwater
Research student, School of Journalism, Media and Culture
- Two Central Square, Central Square, Cardiff, CF10 1FS
Carolyn (known as Carrie) is the PGR representative and is nearing the end of her PhD studies at JOMEC. She will however continue to work as a Research Assistant on various projects within the department, until at least June 2019.
Using Critical Arts-Based approaches she explores concepts such as 'safe space' and social justice in community participation. As a professional artist working in film, theatre and community arts she is also interested in how site spaces, as non-traditional sites of engagement, can elevate audiences to co-producers. Carrie aims with her art practice and research priorities to explore new methods to appropriately represent multi-diverse actors involved in contemporary theatre and arts outputs.
She is currently working with Dr Jenny Kidd on two heritage projects, Wales for Peace and the tour of Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red installation by P. Cummings.
Within JOMEC she teaches on second and third year Undergraduate modules Critical Issues in Television Production and Understanding the Digital Society through the lens of Black Mirror.
Carrie also works at Cardiff Metropolitan University as Associate Lecturer in Drama.
Carrie’s PhD investigates the concept of ‘safe space’ and how it performs in museums as a method of socially just community participation. However, her research focusses on the problematic nature of ‘safe space’ as ‘unsafe’ in practice, with an arts-based inquiry into how this phenomena effects museum practitioner choices.
In July and August 2018, Carrie was lead researcher on site at Wales Millennium Centre, under the management of Professor Justin Lewis (who wrote the report) and Sara Pepper at Creative Cardiff. The project was to evaluate WMC initiative Festival of Voice, 2018. This project saw her on site at the festival conducting interviews and making an observation of audience engagement, collating and analysing data.
Since 2014, Carrie has been following the Weeping Window Poppies installation (part of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, 14-18 Now) around the UK for four years. She has been speaking to visitors engaging in the installation to share their thoughts on Remembrance and how we as a nation remember WW1?
Separate to this project she has also been involved in conducting interviews and ‘deep dives’ into the Wales for Peace project assisting Dr. Jenny Kidd with the HLF evaluation.
Independently from Cardiff University, Carrie conducted research with the Cardiff Community Participatory Network to map public engagement in the Civic Centre. This research contributed to a presentation in methods of ‘performing data’.
Further to this her research into the challenges and benefits of reading for pleasure with foster children, was recently published by Booktrust Cymru.
Harris C., Westwater, C. & Mills, J. (2017). Research with practitioners in Wales: Support for foster carers with reading with their children. https://www.booktrust.org.uk/globalassets/resources/research/research-with-practitioners-in-wales---supporting-foster-carers-with-reading-with-their-children---final.pdf
How Safe is the 'Safe Space' of participation in musuems?
Carrie has presented her research at conferences at National Museum Wales for Re-Imagining Challenging History; the Winter School at Jinan University, China; Intensive Days on Gotland, Sweden and National Galleries Scotland.
The Insecurity of the Safe Space Mission: The counter-productive effects of ‘safe space’ on community participation in partnered, co-produced, creative projects with museums and the third sector.
This thesis explores the extent to which partnered projects between contemporary museums and third sector stakeholders co-produce safe spaces, in particular when they purport to represent multicultural, marginalised or hidden life experiences. Using data from case studies, interviews, an online survey and workshop responses, this thesis charts how an essentialized concept of safe space enables the ‘othering’ of participants (Hall, 1996), a denigrating culture of celebration, patterns of symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 2009), censorship and self-censorship, and raises questions about power and the circulation of power (Foucault, 2002).
Using Critical Arts-based Enquiry (Finlay, 2014), the findings move forward the work of Bernadette Lynch on empowerment-lite museum practice, false consensus and the invisible power of the invited space (Lynch, 2012). It asks how safe space performs in this context and what effect it has on the provisos of participation as an effective method of democratizing space and increasing social justice. To ground the discussion, I look back at my own practice as a participatory artist, whilst mapping where the discourse of safe space and community participation derive; further exposing how the word safe creates an expectation of safety which cannot be fulfilled. The research proposes that the term safe does not leave room for feelings of un-safety, un-certainty and perhaps more importantly, resistance. It concludes that although ethically motivated museums are now making attempts to address these shortcomings sensitively and methodically, the concept still informs much of the practice; transforming into a clustering of other ideals such as neutral space or space for dangerous ideas. This language further reinforces essentialized expectations which negate the very notion of safety and the desired outcome of increased social justice. Ultimately creating a sector which is in praxis, insecure in its safe space mission.