Care aesthetics research project

The CARE Aesthetics: Research Exploration (CARE) project is a three-year, Arts & Humanities Research Council funded project.

It is led by a cross-disciplinary team of theatre and nursing academics and practitioners at the University of Manchester, in collaboration with the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, and the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.

CARE asks what happens when we consider care a craft or artful practice. We look at moments of care that demonstrate embodied, sensory and practical skills – the touch of a hand, holding the other’s gaze, a modified tone of voice. These are often felt as being done ‘intuitively’ by healthcare professionals and artists working in care settings, and so often become invisible in doing care work.

We believe that once we can more readily describe such skills in care, we might understand care in new ways, and we can begin to value care as a creative practice. With a focus on understanding how artists, homecare workers and healthcare support staff deliver ‘care’ and interact with people, the project examines those elements to caring that go beyond what is usually seen, heard, felt, noticed, or recognised as ‘care’ in care work. These aspects of care are what the projects refers to as the aesthetics of care, or care aesthetics.