Touchy Art: A phenomenological approach to artistic practice in stigmatised neighbourhoods

  • Gretel Taylor
  • Deborah Warr
Keywords: Site-specific art, socially-engaged art, place-based stigma, sociological research


This paper outlines an artistic method combining a socially engaged and site-responsive arts practice with sociological discursive reflection that aimed to challenge the stigmatising stereotypes associated with many low-income neighbourhoods in Australia. We characterise our approach as ‘touchy’ to draw attention to issues that informed our approach: the sensitivity of the topic of stigma for residents; the need for a phenomenological method that sensitised participants to see/perceive beyond stereotypes; and aims of creating experiential and tactile artworks that could engage local and wider audiences in the issues. The paper discusses our rationale for the method and explicates components of the approach – excursions, workshop activities and exhibitions – and draws on artefacts, artworks and interview material to visualise and give voice to participants’ experiences of the project. Artistic and social outcomes were suggestive of the potential of this approach to develop alternative, experiential portrayals that might challenge the persistently negative stereotyping of low-income neighbourhoods.

How to Cite
Taylor, G., & Warr, D. (2018). Touchy Art: A phenomenological approach to artistic practice in stigmatised neighbourhoods. Conjunctions. Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation, 5(1), 1-16.