Experience : Nudge & Union Street, Plymouth

Updated: Jan 3

Visiting Nudge was such a profound and validating experience in terms of my own career reflection and ambition - I found that I felt I found a certain place within the field of social spaces and enterprises. Drawing upon comments that Helen, the creative co-ordinator, made alongside my own research direction of looking into moments of joy and the implications of particular creative moments. Removing my own ideas of aesthetic intellectualisation, I found that the small smiles and impacts of nudged movements radiated out amongst the community. The collaboration between small sections of community and the idea that there is institutions of hope can provide a positive change within places of poverty and vulnerability.

“noticing colour and light has changed the world around ... little gifts … small inclusions of warmth and life ... sun."

Joyful : Ingrid Lee Nelson, Page 41

This highlighted for me ideas from reading in the idea of creativity in changing mindsets and perspectives, allowing questions to form throughout local communities and offering and inclusivity when otherwise there may be consistent poverty. Although many cues are aesthetic and not political, the changes that were offered are in face of a movement that takes ownership and acknowledges tools for change rather than oppression. This ideas reopens up the opportunity of space and accountability, for communities and movements over social policies and council reliance - with individuals offering new eyes, skills and most importantly, support.


However, the experience raised questions relating to the gentrification and exploitation of particularly vulnerable areas. Visiting a deprived area such as Union Street under the context of a research trip as a middle class white individual provided a certain self-awareness of my own privilege and how by background in creative arts and academia can be perceived as coming from a place of patronisation. When seeing a space an area to reflect made me question where the boundaries come between observing and being? At what point is experitial learning within communities outside of my own coming from a place of living opposed to constructing observations and untangling judgement? When discussed with the group, important conversations were raised questioning the validity of trust, safeguarding and objective, which reaffirmed for my the understanding that there needs to be clarity in intent and purpose and understanding that there is not always a place to rescue, questioning my own saviour complex and understanding whether my own practice is a tool or a risk dependent on the individual situation.



There was complex discussions opened around the role of class systems within our current society and the role of the arts. In my own opinion there is definitely still distinct hierarchies, particularly surrounding educational and creative institutions and not acknowledging this only perpetuates our capitalist Neo-liberalist culture. Although, with tools and questioning I feel that there's an ability to move and adapt within the systems and help expand and deliver a broad outreach that is inclusive. However, from this and the experiences particularly at Union Street Corner, speaking with local residents and the volunteers, I found that authenticity needs to be at the forefront of relationships that are formed and by coming from a place of invitation and self-awareness rather than insecurity there is the primarily the offer of knowledge, empathetic listening and understanding in a supportive rather than overwhelming way.


Further Development : Becoming part of Nudge's Community Builders volunteer team, such as through Manor Street market and continuing ideas at The Art of Invitation workshop

Lottie Matthews © 2018 
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