Illuminating Thoughts

Jo worked as Lead Artist on the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art’s Rule of Thumb social justice programme. 2006

Jo worked with a group of women from Easterhouse Women’s Aid over 16 sessions to explore their experiences of domestic abuse. The group explored ideas and techniques and visited exhibitions before making their own work in response to their experiences. The resulting work was exhibited in the Gallery of Modern Art.

Illuminating Thoughts

Illuminating Thoughts‘ was a series of photographs of projected text onto participants bodies to reveal hidden thoughts and feelings on the abuse they experienced, making the invisible visible. The work has enabled the women to express where they are in the process of recovery and change. It includes statements and affirmations as well as questions which allow us insight into their inner worlds. The images were exhibited as photographs at the Gallery of Modern Art.


in ‘Handbags’, each participant customised a handbag to represent their personal space, inner thoughts and feelings. Each handbag represented and aspect of their life and recovery from abuse.

“In my handbag I have created a quiet, safe, secure place that every woman and child needs after a life living with abuse. I am in that space now and feel content, happy and safe and in control of my life for the first time in years. The wall coverings, curtains and cushions are printed with a miniaturised design, which is a representation of the life journeys of all the women involved in the project from Greater Easterhouse Womens Aid.”

Inside Out

A film. A handbag was again used to represent female personal space, inner thoughts, and hidden emotions. The women opened up this private space, gradually revealing their thoughts and feelings: positive, challenging, painful and inspirational. Through this work they are speaking out and moving on.

Projection installation of ‘Inside Out’ at GOMA

Notes on the project: “It was amazing to work with this group of women and see them transformed by the process. They not only produced work on the personal affects of abuse but also some of the group chose to focus on expressing hope for the future after abuse which is positive. They hoped that other women in abusive relationships would see their work and gain inspiration and hope for a different and better future.

The process of working with the women to explore creative techniques and then to put their own experiences and ideas into them to make their own work was a real journey for all of us; challenging, inspiring and emotional, and a privilege to work with the group, all of whom have been so deeply affected by their experiences of abuse. I felt privileged to have such a positive role to play in working with them to explore ideas and ways of communicating their stories to other people”.

Categories: Community Engagement, Exhibition, Jo Hodges, Pre 2013

Jo Hodges

Jo Hodges is a multidisciplinary public artist based in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
with a background in Human Ecology, community development and social justice.

Her work investigates ecological and socio-cultural systems, processes and relationships, and explores new strategies for working in public. Her practice takes many forms; temporary and permanent works, site specific installations and socially engaged projects and processes. She is often led by context, where the outcome is determined as a result of process.

She is interested in research, experimentation and collaboration at the intersection of environment, culture and technology and exploring the role of art in social change. She is joint Director-Curator of Sanctuary Lab, a public art laboratory in the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park.