Current , recent and ongoing projects
At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 I reflected on the continual use of the word ‘unprecedented’ regarding the Covid 19 Pandemic. One of the funders for the charity I work for (who had shown a lot of flexibility) commented that they had been through the plague of 1665 and therefore felt that they could survive this one. It made me think about previous pandemics/plagues and I started to create some ‘social distancing’ items that reflected that.
Unprecedented I – an Italian style carnival mask embroidered with the words of John Donne’s sonnet ‘No Man Is an Island’.
Unprecedented II – a social distancing crinoline embroidered with words from Daniel Defoe’s ‘Journal of a Plague Year’.
My Head Hurts from Wearing All These Hats
A work of sculpture that is in the early stages of being created. This is the sketch:
I also took part in Spare Tyre’s Statues of the Unforgotten as a visual notetaker and talked about this project, a little tongue in cheek, as a proposed statue for a roundabout in Maidenhead (because what could be more appropriate for Maiden Head than a statue of a spinster wearing a whole lot of hats?!).
Work with Ann Light:
Nesta ‘Radical Visions of Future Government’ Sept 2019
With Professor Ann Light of University of Sussex I wrote one of the essays for this publication which was produced in conjunction with the Nesta Innovation in Local Government Summit.
University of Sussex – Jan 2019
A travelling version of the Counter Factual World Generator (see below). I remade the generator so that it could pack flat to be taken around the world by the Professor.
Second author on ‘Creative Practice and Transformations to Sustainability: Making and Managing Culture Change” a report for AHRC Connecting Communities programme – May 2018
This report was written as part of the AHRC funded Connected Communities project Creative Practice and Transformations to Sustainability: Making and Managing Culture Change. Ann Light, Deborah Mason, Tom Wakeford, Ruth Wolstenholme and Sabine Hielscher
Reference: Light, Ann et al. 2018. Creative Practice and Transformations to Sustainability: Making and Managing Culture Change. Available online here.
University of Sussex – Commission for Philip K Dick Season
Jan 2017 – Feb 2017
‘On Some Other World: Ways of Being in the Digital Age’ event on 22nd Feb 2017.
This commission was to create a Counter-Factual Worlds Generator and the contents of those worlds to facilitate a one-day workshop event “using the technique of making unfamiliar through counter-factuality to ask how we design ways of being in a digital age and how, through this, we can conceive of new experience and new means of describing and engaging with the novel worlds of ubiquitous computing.” Working closely with Professor Ann Light who lead the workshop I created an Americana/Fairground themed world generator that spits out miniature globes which contain silk squares with the basic elements of a particular counter-factual world. The most famous of these is that featured in Philip K Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle where the world depicted is one in which the Germans and Japanese have won WW2 rather than the allies. Ann and I wrote a blog about this project for Climate Cultures which can be found here.
Cheer up Love!
As an active member of the Women’s Equality Party I spend a lot of time trying to work out what I need to do, what we need to do, to actually achieve equality. I had for some time been thinking about male gender conformity – particularly in terms of clothing – and how that might be a barrier to equality (for all genders, including male). At the same time, in the process of moving house, I stumbled across a box of postcards produced by Penguin Modern Classics celebrating 100 Penguin Modern Classic authors (it was a gift). I was aware that I had never used the postcards and looking through them I could see why – at least 80 of them were white men, all of them posed to capture some aspect of ‘normal’ masculinity – mostly shirts and ties with the occasional more casually dressed person. I wanted to challenge this conformity and started recolouring the postcards to give them more a colourful and adventurous appearance. A selection can be found here.
Plant of the Day
This project is ongoing. It began in the weeks after the EU Referendum as a somewhat eccentric response to the media’s homogenisation of the citizens of the UK – grouping them by names they would probably never call themselves (metropolitan elite, people in the North, white working class, etc). At the same time I had noticed that my sister took the same approach to weeds and wildflowers – anything yellow, that wasn’t a dandelion was rape and so on. We are the weeds and wildflowers so in solidarity I decided to learn the names and stories of all of the common ones that I just walked past everyday or saw out and about. Having gathered a lot of material I am now looking for the best way of presenting it/interpreting it.
A one off book looking at the parallels between Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein and exploring through an innovative format the psychological connections between Emily Bronte and Mary Shelley. Exhibited at the Liverpool Book Art Fair 2018.
Artist in Residence for Courtenay Street
At the end of June 2018 I left Courtenay Street and my two year project as Artist in Residence in My Own Street came to an end. You can find out about it here.
Sticking Together SE17
This is a project I am doing with Rebecca Manson Jones (my co-conspirator at What Next? Southwark) and it is a commission from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation as part of their Inquiry into the Civic Role of Arts Organisations who are working in conjunction with What Next? on the inquiry. More info here.
We will be working with residents and ex-residents of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark. Using crafting, listening & action learning techniques to create a conversation about how/whether arts and culture could or should open up public debate and involvement in civic processes, this will be captured in a multimedia collage for public display and online- a people’s manifesto for civic life.
We will be blogging about it here
London Debates: B&W drawings
An accidental series of black and white drawings of people taking part in formal and informal ‘debate’ in London – on separate pages under this menu:
A project to do something creative everyday for 365 days – it’s a struggle but some good things have come out of it – you can see the results so far on this pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/debdavemason/create365/ One of the things that came out of it was MacBoudica (see below) which became a separate project of its own.
This came out of my desire to direct a reimagined version of Macbeth with a Boudica style female warrior in the lead role. My resources to actually put the production on are low, so I started making some sketches to help me keep the ideas and the imagery alive in my head whilst I waited for the right moment to present itself. These are now a sequence of drawings of the whole story and I have now published them as a book – you can buy it here: https://www.epubli.co.uk/shop/buch/42278 (it’s also available on Amazon but I get more royalties from epubli).
And two Etsy shops!
One sells Little Blue Bears
On sells Collages
The Adventures of Arta
I’ve only just started work on this – who knows where it will go. It was inspired by two things, a little boy at the Peckham Fun Palace telling me firmly that ‘women can’t be super heros’ and a What Next? collegue suggesting, apropos of Dr Who, that creativity was a super-power. So I created Arta – she is a female super-hero and her super-power is creativity. I have an idea for an adventure but I need to buy a new grey pen before I can draw it!
This is a project set up by David Smith @DavidSmithArt where participants make a collage a day for 365 days and post them on twitter with the hash tag #collage365. I finished in April 2014 and plan to exhibit my year of collage, either this year or early next year. For me it has been an interesting experience. The 365 nature of the project prompted me to choose to make it a ‘diary’ of a kind. Sometimes my collages reflect the literal event of my life, or the world, sometimes they are just how a day ‘felt’ or a random element. Every now and then my day is so dull I just make up a fantasy day – usually Monday! All the collages can be seen on my pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/debdavemason/collage365/
and on this wordpress site: https://hashtagcollage365.wordpress.com/
I have started writing again! I completed my novel Ward of Merechurch in August 2013 and am now trying to get it published. In the meantime I am self-publishing some ghost stories (trying out various ways of doing it) and the first of these is now available on Amazon Kindle:
I have also written a play about the Somerset floods: “Run Softly” and pitched an idea for the TS Eliot Commission about FGM.
I’m also working on the sequel to Ward of Merechurch.
See separate pages for:
King Lear – www.thealternativestheatre.com
The Possible Theatre Collective: http://possibletheatrecollective.com/