Social Microbes - using art to explore autistic people's views on gut microbiota and autism research

One of our Social Microbes residents, Hat Porter, is running this event as part of their residency. Details and sign up form below.

My name is Hat (they/them) I'm an autistic artist currently doing an artist residency on the theme of "social microbes" at The Fish Factory in Penryn supported by Then Try This and Dr Elze Hesse. 

Please read this information and if you are interested in joining this event please fill in the form and I will send the full details of the location and add your name to a list so I know who to expect. 

This workshop will be held on Tuesday 23rd May 6-8pm in Penryn and aims to use art methods to explore how the group, as autistic people living in Cornwall, view research about the relationship between autism and gut microbiota. We will discuss this topic and consider broader priorities for autism research and make art in response. The artwork will then be displayed alongside other work I'm creating as part of this residency at the Fish factory 19th June - 24th June.   

What is gut microbiota? 

The human gut microbiota is the many microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses which live in the gut. These are generally harmless and play important roles in digestion, however imbalances in the numbers and types of microorganisms in the gut (too many of some and not enough of others) has been associated with a number of conditions. 

Over the past 2 decades, there has been significant rise in research which looks to see if there is a link between microorganisms in the gut and autism. Some research looks at if autistic people have different microbes in the gut to non-autistic people. Other research looks at if autistic people's behaviour changes when they are given a 'treatment' such as antibiotics, probiotics (live microorganisms taken to benefit your body), faecal transplant (where a donor's poo is put into the gut to introduce healthy bacteria) or following specific diets. Some research looks at mice and rats and considers how this may relate to humans.

Some people think this research is really important and will help us to understand autism better. Other people worry this research views autistic people negatively. It can also be difficult to tell whether something about gut microorganisms causes autism or whether a link is related to something else like diet. 

Although there is lots of research about this, there isn't very much discussion with autistic people about what they think of this research. 

What will happen at the workshop?

We will meet together and will each create a piece of art to represent what we think and how we feel about this type of research about autism. While we're making the art, we will also talk about how we feel about this type of research and what we think are the most important things for autism researchers to think think about and research. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to. 

What will happen after the workshop?

When we have finished the workshop we will share the artwork made in an exhibition at the fish factory on 19th-24th June. After the exhibition you can keep what you make. 

Who can take part?

You can join if you are autistic (you can either have a formal diagnosis or self-diagnosis) and live in Cornwall. 

What is the accessibility of the space?

The event is held in a space which is wheelchair accessible. There is an accessible toilet. The space is not very echoey and has lots of windows for natural light, as it gets dark the lights are not very bright or artificial (not strip lighting).

We will have a main room with a large table and also have access to a studio with a sofa and soft lighting if people would like some quiet time away from others. 

Once you have completed this form we will send details of the location and images so you know what to expect of the space. 

We will ask people to do a covid test before attending and invite people to wear masks if they are able to. 
We will have a range of art materials so easy to avoid anything which is difficult for sensory reasons. 

I have access needs, how can these be accommodated?

We understand some people are not able to join groups and may not be able to join at this time. If you'd prefer to take part by making art on a 1 to 1 basis instead we can try to arrange this for another time that week (as the residency is only short, it may not be possible to arrange this but we will try). Please share any other access needs and accommodations you'd like us to know about or facilitate. 

You do not have to stay for the full time and can take breaks if you need to. You can be accompanied by a friend or carer if you'd like, please just let us know so we can plan the numbers attending. 

Do I need to bring anything?

No, art materials and refreshments will be provided. Please say if you have any preferred materials and I can try and accommodate this. 

Please fill out this very short form to let us know you're coming.