Changing Places #1: ‘Changing Places & Changing Identities’, a SHU Space & Place Group online session, 7-9pm on Thursday, 24 March 2022

When the many things I remember actually happened, [and] whether early or late in the course of [my] first six years, I haven’t much of an idea. But I can locate most of them with a degree of certainty – where such and such a thing happened and where I was standing when I heard what I heard.”

D.J. Williams (2001) Hen Dy Ffarm (The Old Farmhouse), Llandysul: Gomer Press, p. 6

We all start from somewhere. Mike Pearson (2011) quotes D.J. Williams in an essay examining his own attempts through curated performances to portray the intertwined nature of his formative early childhood experiences and their locatedness – their rootedness – in the flatlands of north Lincolnshire.

But few of us stay rooted in one place for life. Push-pull forces drive us elsewhere, leading us into encounters with other places and their different-to-what-we-are-used-to sites and circumstances. And in the forge of that those new encounters, we become challenged and changed. Our experiences and identities evolve.

In the next instalment of our ‘Changing Places’ theme we’re going to shift the focus away from how (and why) people change places to consider how individuals’ identities evolve in dynamic encounter with familiar, altered and alien places and their material formations.

We have assembled three presenters, from jewellery design, social science and creative writing to give us markedly different perspectives and investigatory methods. In discussion we will draw out the similarities and differences of their approaches and concerns on the question of how encounters with new or transformed places change us.

Our presenters are:

Nantia Koulidou (Art & Design, SHU)

Electronics, connections and places: digital jewellery, changing of identity and changing location

Nantia Koulidou is the Course Leader for the BA Jewellery, Materials and Design at Sheffield Hallam University. She is a design researcher and lecturer intrigued by how art jewellery practices and digital technologies suggest ways of connecting with the self, and other people in poetic ways. Her work contributes to jewellery and HCI field by offering new interpretations of digital jewellery through theory and practice and to design research by enriching the role of creative practice to offer methodologies that are rooted in craft, empathy and dialogue. During her talk Nantia will discuss the theme of relocation and the potential of narrative digital jewellery to support the liminal self. Nantia’s recent work-in-progress is autobiographical and responds to her search for a sense of belonging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following craft methodologies and her fascination for found objects, Nantia designs interactive objects that aim to the open discussion on the value of craft knowledge in the digital age and broaden our expectations of what digital jewellery can be.

Jess Scott (Social Science, SHU)

How does the spatial movement of younger adults into a long-term residential care home impact their sense of identity?

Care homes in the UK are typically associated with providing care for people who are older in age. However, there is a prevalence of younger adult residents (aged 18-64) with various learning and physical disabilities who also have long-term residence. There is an absence of academic research and literature surrounding the experiences of younger residents within the care home. In summary, this presentation will explore the processes of identity change for younger care home residents who have made the transition from family/informal care to long term residential care. It will argue that upon relocation to their new home, younger residents must adjust their identities to orientate their new place of dwelling and may find it difficult to adapt. I will draw upon theories of ageing to suggest this is because younger adults are not at the stereotypically perceived acceptable age to experience long term residence within care homes, and therefore struggle to make sense of their new ‘home’. I will outline what the existing literature tells us about younger adults’ relocation into care and their identity changes, identifying key gaps in knowledge and discussing future research plans and how the topic of the presentation fits with my broader PhD surrounding understanding how younger adult residents make sense of ‘home’.

Joanna Dobson (Humanities, SHU)

Trauma, Landscape and Dislocation: exploring changing perceptions of place through creative writing

How does the significance of a place change when the basis for its significance is destabilised? This paper will begin with a personal account of a dramatic change in my own perception of the English Lake District that resulted from unsettling discoveries made while writing a memoir for my PhD. Alongside short readings from the memoir-in-progress, it will additionally explore whether there are any insights to be gained from my experience that are relevant to current conflicts over how the Lake District should be managed in the light of increasing evidence of severe biodiversity loss.

This online event is free to attend – but places need to be booked via Eventbrite:

Reference: Pearson, M. (2011) ‘Deserted places, remote voices: performing landscape’ in Daniels et al (eds) Envisioning Landscapes, Making Worlds: Geography & the Humanities. Routledge, pp. 280-286

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