Care Aesthetics Research Exploration (CARE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures


Care Aesthetics: Research Exploration (CARE) will create the first comprehensive and multidisciplinary investigation into the concept of care aesthetics, applying research outcomes to develop new practices of artful care designed for contemporary arts, health and social care settings. CARE starts from the hypothesis that care as a practice can be understood to have an aesthetic dimension - that is a crafted, sensory and embodied character. The project explores how we might understand care in new ways if we attend to its aesthetics, and how we might understand arts practices in new ways if we ask how they contribute to interhuman care. Drawing on care ethicists' analysis of interdependent human relations as a foundation for a situated version of social justice, the project asks how an attention to care aesthetics might provide new insights and new practices that run counter to the inequalities of a sometimes careless society. Investigating how care operates in contemporary socially engaged arts practice, with particular attention to applied theatre projects, the research asks how a focus on care aesthetics provides new approaches to these practices. Simultaneously, working with health and social care researchers, the project will investigate a range of contemporary social and health care practices, to examine how a focus on aesthetics might revaluate the skills of staff who are often at the forefront of the crises that exist in health and social care settings. If institutional care has become overly instrumental and technically focused, the project asks how a reorientation to embodied and sensory practices by care practitioners will offer new approaches with the potential to improve the quality of care in different settings. The research in social and health settings and the analysis in socially engaged arts contexts will cross-pollinate with researchers from the arts working in the former and researchers from health and social care contributing to the latter. This will include an extended case study on care aesthetics and coronavirus which will document the responses to the pandemic that exist both in a care and artistic register, to examine how a focus on the aesthetics of interhuman caring relations might illuminate powerful community-based means for dealing with the difficulties of the crisis. The project will establish the Care Aesthetics Lab in year one to act as the engagement and dissemination vehicle for the research and enable the development of exploratory practices that will bring multidisciplinary teams of professionals, artists, educationalists and researchers together, including opportunities for broader public and practitioner engagement. It will ensure involvement of practitioner communities in the process of research and help develop new approaches informed by care aesthetics, meeting the urgency of our contemporary crisis in care.


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Description Whitworth Art Gallery - Collection Care Centre 
Organisation Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have negotiated the use of space within the Whitworth Art Gallery for the purpose of this project
Collaborator Contribution They have given us space to develop public engagement activities as part of the project
Impact Public events to be developed during 2023
Start Year 2023