We believe gentle, poetic storytelling through creative writing, visual arts and performance increases our understanding of difficult human stories and helps all of us to be more confident in discussing rape, sexual assault, femicide, domestic abuse and other types of violent crime. We are here to work with you, to help you tell your stories, our stories, their stories. We want to challenge unhelpful attitudes around sexual violence, avoid making spectacle from trauma, and steer around a cultural fascination with predatory and violent men.
We have just finished a pilot project with a group of women in Leeds, a creative writing group. Participants made spoken word, text and images and joined in a forum theatre session – exploring first person accounts of experience of violence, using Becoming Unbecoming as a prompt. You can see some of the results of that project here. The project was funded by Leeds Inspired.
From January to May 2022, Una is working on research into what happens when artists and writers make life story works around these sensitive issues, with a series of talking head videos, conversational podcasts and blog posts by professionals in the field. The projects includes some of the most interesting artists, practitioners and experts in policy, law, and health. On May 8th there will be a life feed from Brazil with a short performance of Dedicado a todas as outras by Coletivo Rubra, followed by a panel discussion. You can book a ticket on Eventbrite, free or pay as you feel. This R&D is funded by Arts Council England.
Culture can change; we can change culture.
Why Becoming Unbecoming?
Becoming Unbecoming has already helped many people to understand more about these important issues. Themes in the book include: The difficulties of speaking and the burden of silence, the cultural landscape, historical context, alternative endings, alternative futures, the experience and after effects of psychological trauma, media representations of violent crime, intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault, child sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation, grooming, family difficulties, good girls/bad girls, the nature of justice.
A group of young people in Brazil had this to say:
Sarah Hildebrand, writing in 2017 for Public Books said that Becoming Unbecoming was the first book she ever read that was dedicated to her:
“Becoming Unbecoming bore witness to me. Una’s discretion in regards to her own experiences—and even her identity—made me realize that my story is not for someone else’s entertainment, and that even in silence I can find solidarity. She dedicates her book “to all the others.” It’s the first book I ever read that was dedicated to me. “
“As a literature student, I’d wanted words to fix me. But it was images that pieced me back together. For months I’d been stumbling under the weight of my own silence. Sometimes it buried me. An alternating lack or intensity of emotion isolated me from everything but my own trauma. Becoming Unbecoming offered me a model to live by, a way to feel less alone without speaking and without turning rape into spectacle.”
“Yet, this is not to say the memoir is without hope. Una’s facsimile never collapses under the weight of silence, but continues to carry it with her and remain mindful of others who have also lost their voices. So maybe, if I wander long enough within my own landscape, I can make a map. Maybe I will pass another traveler.”
Angshuman, presenter of For The Love Of Comics, YouTube says:
“Absolutely gripping and fantastic, this is one that it sticks its teeth into you and then holds on to you for a long time. This is a powerful comic and it really has burrowed into my head and I can feel myself thinking about it in pieces and the whole thing. It’s a fascinating work for many reasons.”
I think the greatest accomplishment of Becoming Unbecoming is how elegant it is, how quiet in certain ways it is, then it sounds when you are getting to the end of it as if it’s a shout.