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Messy Business

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Messy Business was co-commissioned by People United and domestic abuse charity Joining Hands Joining Hearts

The project involved meeting regularly with members of JHJH over a year in their community safe house. The process was playful and speculative, seeking to find visual languages to express their individual and shared experiences in a way that could operate as both an artwork but also as an activist tool, to provoke conversations and create an environment for people to recognise their own situations. JHJH later used some of the work in schools and other community settings.


Messy Business is a title that emerged from JHJH's motto "Our Mess is Our Message".

The final outcome was 6 short films that, watched together, total 21 minutes. The six videos offer a narrative arc that speaks to entering a coercive relationship, the complexities of toxic relationships and a call out to seeking independence and autonomy. The six films - Land - Air - Break - Burn - Bridge - Beyond - can be watched here individually (see Moving Image Work page).

Messy Business was presented with Joining Hands Joining Hearts at the Social Art Network in Sheffield (Nov 2018, as work-in-progress) and at Sittingbourne’s Avenue Theatre (December 2018, for an audience of friends and families). Further screenings include CINECITY, Courage Film Festival, Berlin (semi-finalists) and Tate Exchange, as part of the Social Art Network. 

Cole & Joslin also met with Look The Leap to do an interview about 'artists working at the crossroads of contemporary art and education, to do a podcast interview about Messy Business, which can be listed to here.

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