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Summer Specials: philosophy in the woods and wearable art

Updated: Sep 2

I've been lucky enough to enjoy a few new experiences this summer including outdoor philosophising in Suffolk and encouraging people Leeds to wear some art.

Philosophy in the Woods was hosted by Rachel Kellett in Kaliwood near Halesworth in Suffolk. This was a Socratic Dialogue, a method I have found out about from contact with the Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy (we're working on a collaborative project - more news on this soon). Being in the woods isn't an essential part of the method, but it was beautiful to be outside, under trees for the duration of the enquiry (one and half days). (photo credit: Rachel Kellett)

Philosophy for Communities is another Socratic form so I was fascinated to experience the difference between the methods. You can find out more detail in the links above. In Socratic Dialogue, the facilitator presents the question and each person in the group brings an example from their own life that illustrates it in some way. One example is chosen as a focus and dialogue seeks to understand a core statement that can provide an answer to the question.

Our question was: What are the limits of my responsibility for others?

Spending one and a half days delving into one question is a highly satisfying endeavour. I was very happy to be a participant and to experience a new way of philosophising. Apparently they also do five day enquiries! What joy. I hope to join one and to continue my journey with Socratic Dialogue.

'Answers on the back of a postcard' (photo credit: Rachel Kellett)

Wearable art at Leeds 2023: The Gift

The Gift is a remarkable thing indeed. The artist Keith Khan has created a motif for every ward in Leeds (33 in total) and then they were woven (by Burberry) into cloth and made into garments by local tailors.

During the summer I spent a few days in different parts of Leeds encouraging people to try on a garment and have their photo taken to become 'part of the art'. These pop-up photo booths were a joy to be a part of and the whole thing was a beautifully inventive community art event.

Many people were hesitant of course, but even so, being offered the chance to have a photo taken by a professional photographer was clearly considered a valuable opportunity. Photo credit: Photo by Laurelle

It was interesting to witness the different things that people got out taking part. For some it was the photo, for others the unique experience. Some were fascinated by the fabrics or impressed at wearing Burberry. Others wanted to find their area's motif and know what inspired the design. I spend quite a lot of time looking at art in galleries, it was great to be involved in such a different art experience and think about what makes it art.

And as a final treat, I got to meet Keith Khan himself when he visited the photo booth at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley.

It was a pleasure to see his pleasure at seeing the garments being worn and in wearing them himself.

Here's my photo of him taking a photo of Laurelle taking a photo of a participant in the photo booth.

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