Wild Philosophy - DIY15 - Joanne Matthews

Posted on: 26 Nov 2018 by Joanne Matthews

“First I’d like to say that this weekend is an invitation, its an invitation to take part in experiments and approaches… This weekend is inspired by a need to build resilience and power to move how I want to in the world and I’d like to explore this with you all.” Extracts from JoJo Matthews’ introduction to the DIY

Wild Philosophies: Raving, Running, Reading was for people who identify as female and non-binary, basically no cis men. I got 18 applications for just 8 places, my criteria were initially quite simple – I asked for a short explanation of why they wanted to do this DIY, what their favourite punk or rave track is at the moment and their age to have a range of ages / experiences.

Picking the participants was very difficult, I was looking for honesty in their writing, the messages in songs they chose. If I could learn from them and vice versa and how they would all fit together as a group. I ended up with a group of seven amazing women who gave their energy, openness and vulnerability.

“If you feel uncomfortable or any emotions come up for you, I invite you to share these with the group and we can work through it together or just listen. Often in patriarchal learning settings, our emotions are suppressed or not allowed in the room. If you do not want to share that is also fine, feel free to remove yourself or take some time out. However, I encourage you stay within the space and bring your feelings into the room.”

I wanted radical care and support to run throughout the DIY from having naps in the afternoon to covering as much of the cost to the participants as possible. I gave them each £40 towards their travel and all other costs were covered by the DIY budget.

The weekend was somewhere between a residency and a retreat and took place in a converted chapel (Capel y Graig) in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. Over the course of a weekend (Friday evening to Monday morning), seven women shared a house, a chapel and cooked communal meals. The DIY included experiments in radical listening, sensitivity and vulnerability, naked rambling, collaborative life drawing and accessing “the erotic”, subverting hierarchies, punk and rave energies as tools and reading female philosophers and theorists.

I am interested in using Permaculture in my art making and I used this design approach (Survey, Analysis, Design, Implement, Maintain) for the DIY. I included principles such as Use edges and the marginal, Design from pattern to detail, Integrate rather than segregate. This guided me to plan in a minimal way, use my weaknesses as strengths and to have a flexible plan which would respond to the energy in the room each day.

“How do we lead with an attitude or a feeling – how can we take a feeling in music, in writing, a manifesto and lead with in a life and artistic practice? How can we incorporate silliness into serious ideas? Are we all institutionalised? How can we recognise hierarchy?”

Day one included body meditations and a reading from Strike magazine about radical listening. Day two included reading Pauline Oliveros, a silent walk with sonic meditations and wild swimming; raving leading into collaborative life drawing where everyone is naked and everyone takes it in turn to be a model in the pulpit of the Chapel; a reading from Audre Lorde; a reading from Rebecca Solnit and a night walk in a pitch black forest. Day three included; a reading from Kristie Dotson leading into a naked hike with wild swimming; a reading from Strike magazine about the political freedom of the dancing body; a question was set – “What is hierarchy” then naked raving and automatic writing; an individual “anti-lecture” from everyone in response to the set question. One of the participants, Jennifer Gaskell responded to the question with a piece of writing, we were all sat in a close circle on the pulpit in the Capel...


Hierarchy without consent is - - -

  • Men taking photos of you when you are naked
  • Enough people having attacked enough of us that we are scared to walk in the dark
  • Enough people having crept into houses that you lock your door at night


Hierarchy with consent is - - -

  • Chopping to help a person that’s cooking
  • Its the first person having made it up to the bathroom to have a shower
  • Its reading on the board what should happen next
  • Its taking your clothes off when someone said you’re allowed to do that here
  • Consensual hierarchy is about invitation not demand
  • Trusting your instincts, trusting your eroticism and your cunt intimately


This DIY was an amazing opportunity for me to test new ideas, take risks, lead with energies that I couldn’t before express in words, with a group of radical and supportive women. I tested my abilities as a facilitator by exposing my own vulnerability, for example letting everyone know that I was very scared on our night walk. I shot footage for a potential artists film, I played punk music with life drawing for the first time. I lead something that I knew may not have any concrete outcomes.

I am making a zine about this work and am hope to develop a video work too. Keep a look out!

Feel free to take these ideas, the reading list and playlists are below, use them for your own work or get in touch if you would like to host the next Wild Philosophy retreat.


Wild Philosophies Reading List:

“Radical Listening: A Manifesto” by Soofiya and Andry from Strike Magazine Radical Pedagogy issue 19


“Introduction” from Deep Listening: A Composer's Sound Practice, by Pauline Oliveros


“Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power” from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde


“Walking After Midnight: Women, Sex, and Public Space” fromWanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit


“Concrete Flowers: Contemplating the Profession of Philosophy” in Hypatia Journal by Kristie Dotson


“Rhythm and Matter: In Praise of the Dancing Body” from Strike Magazine Body Issue 18, by Silvia Federici



Spotify Playlists:




Joanne (JoJo) Matthews is an Artist, Producer and Researcher.


@jojo.maffyews on Instagram


Capel y Graig is a rennovated Capel used by artists with an ever-developing organic curatorial process.



Wild Philosophy: Raving, Runing, Reading was developed out of the Live Art Development Agency’s DIY programme of professional development for artists and supported by Chapter Arts Centre.

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