Catherine Douglas

Zimbabwe - Dance

Catherine Douglas

Catherine Douglas

  • AGE : 38
  • COUNTRY of residence : Zimbabwe
  • CITY : Harare
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The artists

A few words about your artistic journey

I have performed and created dance works for Tumbuka Dance Company, and teach young Zimbabweans in Schools and community centers. I stand on the shoulders of artistic giants like Germaine Acogny, Nora Chipaumire who have inspired me to be tenacious, remain true and passionate for dance within my community.

How long have you been an artist ?

I have been professionally an artist for close to twenty years.

Why did you apply for this grant ? How will the grant support you ?

I am interested in how arts/dance could be used as a medium to start dialogue on mentals illness, which probably responsible for many undiagnosed fatalities in my community. The grant will facilitate a platform for the possibility to share experiences with a group of women on effects of mental illness.

What are your concrete artistic objectives after this residency ?

Objective- create a interactive, playful and evolving dance work that can be shared online and possibly used in live perfomances as starting point for discussion on mental illness and action.

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Her residency

What did you achieve during this creative residency ? What is the result (created work) ? Who was involved in the creation process ?

Raramo creative residency was an interesting introduction to mental health in my community. Despite the continued changes resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, through Raramo project, I had the opportunity to do research and create a project in the community without interference from the country’s authorities. The discussions with women in Tafara were helpful in contributing in slowly starting dialogue on the unusual subject of mental health within that community. I am hoping this can be beginning of something we can continually use. Some parts of the preproduction research were used as material and inspiration for the creation of the performance and it was a useful icebreaker into discussions and sharing on mental health.

A mental health expert participate in the discussions, which revealed that we had only scratched the surface, and that the growth and understanding of mental health through exposure to artistic performance was an interesting way to achieve result towards the intended community.

Present were :

  • 10 Ladies from Tafara
  • Videographer : Farai Kuzvidza
  • Theatre Performer : Bob Mutumbi
  • Program Assistant : Victor Peturo
  • Advisor : Gilbert Douglas Davies Guzha
  • Financial Advisor : Jonah Nyandoro
  • Anxiety Support and Awareness Center

How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future ?

The effects of Mental illness in the time of COVID19 has become more noticeable in my country. The fact that we have no name for mental health in Zimbabwe and that it still carries a negative connotation does not help. I have however been inspired by the possibility to learn and appreciate some success that people around the world have been having with art for mental health. Poor women in poor neighbourhoods have had to cope with the challenging impact that the pandemic crisis has been having on them including domestic violence, non-existent medical system, food insecurity and political instability. One of the women who participated stated : “Being able to just get out of the house and learn something new about one’self and make new friends with whom you can possibly share and trust with staff in your life can be a blessing”.

How did you feel during the residency ? And at the end of it ?

The subject I was dealing with is still uncomfortable to a lot of people within my community. Most people prefer not to talk about what they are going through, especially in these difficult times where everyone has a lot on their plate. This made it challenging to find women with the courage to open up, share and discuss arts and mental health. Thus getting people interested was not as easy as I had anticipated. I decided to start with people I knew who then invited their friends. Some of the participants did not have mobile phones which made my first idea of doing the whole project online not possible, and the network in Zimbabwe is always an issue.
To build the project creatively, I looked into working with other artists from different genres. Although the interest was there, the timing was clashing and because of lockdown restrictions from the pandemic movement at the moment is not easy to pull a project as demanding as Raramo easily.
However, having an experienced mental health practitioner from Anxiety Support and Awareness Center did help in putting focus into the project’s discussion and having different artists come in for the creative process helped on the artistic side. I had a supportive team of advisors and creatives that I relied on the whole process.

Her artwork