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Exploring women’s safety online

Taking Space: Digital - exploring women's safety online

29th November - 17th December 2021 

Online & Offline Interactive Exhibition across the city of Dundee 

To raise awareness of the worldwide campaign ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence', NEoN Digital Arts and Dundee based theatre company hidden route open an interactive public poster exhibition exploring the online experiences of Dundee’s women.

hidden route theatre company and theatre artist Hayley Blakeman approached NEoN Digital Arts in early 2021 with a proposal responding to a report published by Plan International UK. The State of Girls' Rights In The UK 2019-2020 ranked Dundee as the worst city in Scotland and one of the worst across the UK for females to grow up in.

Just before lockdown in February 2020, Dundee based theatre artists Gemma Nicol, Lisa Williamson and Hayley Blakeman met over coffee to discuss the surveys' outcomes within the report. They were both surprised and not surprised, saddened and angry. The report's analysis measured female rights and quality of life using indicators such as child poverty, life expectancy and their "neet" status — not in education, employment or training. 'So, what are we going to do about it?' they asked themselves.

This was the start of their collaboration. After that, the idea began to grow about how the group could put stories to the statistics of this report and ultimately connect women of Dundee and ask, 'How can we make a change?'

In October 2021, the three artists were awarded a micro-commission from Dundee Rep Theatre. To create a site-specific piece of verbatim theatre for their festival, 'This Is For You Dundee.' However, the pandemic hit and the commission morphed into an audio play that audience members listened to as they walked around their local area. The audio-play was created in collaboration with young women in Dundee, explicitly focusing on safety in physical spaces.

The conversations turned to discussions around online space, and NEoN Digital Arts has commissioned this development. Through discussions with young women, it was clear that there is still a lack of space for women and girls to come together both online and offline. A space where they can talk about their experiences and, more crucially, inspire change in others.

Through a series of creative workshops, girls, women and non-binary people, worked with the theatre artists to discuss, debate and question safety in digital spaces, using these discussions as a springboard to create their own artistic responses.

In addition, the groups worked with graphic designer Heather Tulloch to create their own artistic digital provocations, producing a series of public art posters, which will be displayed across the city. The audience can interact with the posters by scanning a QR code that takes them to the three artistic responses captured on film. The workshops and development of the films and posters have given the women, girls and non-binary people space to voice their concerns, thoughts, and experiences of digital space.

Heather Tulloch: Graphic Design

Jassy Earl: Filmmaker

Visit online

Poster Locations here

About the Artists

hidden route is a theatre company based in Dundee and works across Scotland. They explore the unexpected and collaborate with people to make incredible things happen through exciting, engaging and empowering participatory theatre experiences and performances. Gemma Nicol & Lisa Williamson are co-Artistic directors of hidden route. Collectively they have been working within the participation sector for over twenty years.

Hayley Blakeman is a theatre maker based in Dundee. She specialises in working alongside communities and creating spaces with participants that encourage a sense of belonging and purpose. She is interested in creating theatre that explores the untold stories of lived experiences and asks questions about building a better society for us all to live in. Hayley has over 12 years of experience working in the creative industries. She enjoys collaborating across the art forms with different practitioners and communities.

Heather Tulloch is a recent graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design based in Glasgow. A curious and open-minded designer, passionate about arts, social issues, music and culture. Her research-led design practice spans print, digital, editorial and visual identities. Her work explores how design can encourage conversations, influence behaviours and inspire positive change in our society. You can find her DJing for Polka Dot Disco Club and planning her next cycling trip in her spare time.

Jassy Earl is a multi-disciplinary artist working with photography, film, visual art and performance. They are interested in and have been working in collaboration with different people, children and young people, ecology, memory, loss, and sensory experience. They document processes, listen to a room and the people in it, and visually tell its story. They make and create films and performances using a variety of creative vocabularies, which interact and move with and against each other.  Image Credit: Image of a workshop by hidden route