Building a Interdisciplinary Research Platform and Connecting with a Community.
In 2005 a interdisciplinary research platform was established by artist Seamus McGuinness ,GMIT and Prof. Kevin.M. Malone (Scientist) to explore whether stepping outside the safety and the languages of their respective disciplines, art and science could result in the the creation of a new, alternative language to challenge the silence of stigma around young Irish suicide. That year McGuinness and Malone accepted invitations to jointly present papers at 3 conferences held in Dublin , Limerick and Clare. 21g (2003) was installed at each of the three venues.
These 3 public conversations between the disciplines created a dialogue between art, science and publics, experiments and in reaching a wider audience, created the platform for this research to develop. In their nascent form these were explorative groundwork in unchartered territory, in the pursuit of a potential collaborative and integrated research methodology between art and science around a highly sensitive and stigmatised subject.
This process was formalised in 2006 when McGuinness was appointed Ad Astra Scholar in Suicide Studies within the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health Research, (UCD/SVUH), positioning what would become Lived Lives as an art practice PhD within a medical school. and was awarded a Phd for this research in 2010. The practice was guided by regular meetings and conversations between the artist, scientist, and doctoral studies panels. The art practice that emerged from this migration to a medical site, with cloth as material and conceptual form, responded to and pragmatically operated within this site, attempts to reconnect art practice with life, exploring new ways of thinking, making, and showing art works.
Developed alongside with the Suicide in Ireland Survey, conducted by Malone, Lived Lives connected with 104 Irish families bereaved by suicide, by actively listening to their stories around their kitchen tables across the island of Ireland. McGuinness invited families to donate "anything associated with the lived life" to the Lived Lives Archive. The donated material became a working or ‘living’ archive. Many families chose to donate stories, clothing and controversially images and names, which revealed the identity of their deceased loved one, thus challenging the codes of confidentiality and anonymity as laid down by The Ethics and Medical Research Committee and to which Lived Lives had to adhere. Currently McGuinness is The Craig Dobbin Newman Fellow in Mental Health Studies, School of Medicine,UCD, continuing to work with Malone and the lived Lives Families on challenging the silence of stigma around depression and suicide deaths.