Dr. Anna Walker

Dr Anna Walker


Brief Bio:  My intention in my practice is to facilitate a greater understanding of memory, trauma, and its wider cultural implications. An interest in the effects of trauma on the body, developed while working as a psychotherapist, led to a PhD in Arts and Media at Plymouth University, which I completed in May 2017. In my thesis, I focused on unravelling a traumatic memory to describe, understand and answer questions about the ‘trauma body.’ Through a layered arts practice of text, sonic artwork, and moving and still imagery I examined the tension where trauma meets memory, whether in an attempt to forget or an effort to remember.

This preoccupation with trauma underlies most of the work I do as an artist and researcher, and in my continuing role as a psychotherapist and workshop facilitator, (which I also see has part of my practice). Increasingly, I am exploring ancestral trauma: how pain, anxiety, grief, and violence are passed down generationally, while seeking to understand the passage of trauma through social and collective bodies, and through the landscape. In the past 5-years an interest in traditional storytelling has opened pathways into alternative ways of thinking about collective trauma, where the story functions to hold, address and embolden different narratives for the future. It is a traveling back in time with the intention of reframing the future. Many of these myths and tales are about the land, and the importance of our relationship to the land, and other species that occupy it alongside us.

In 2018, I set up ARE (Arts, Ecology, and Resilience/ Research) as an online and global collaborative platform for artists and scientists to disseminate their research and make work together, which was invaluable during lockdown. https://are-research.com/

Recent Exhibitions, presentations and Screenings:

‘We Are The Granddaughters of Those Who Didn’t Burn’, Video, Malta Arts Society, (September 2023), https://avarts.ionio.gr/ttt/2023/en/artshow/.

‘The Wooing of Rhiannon’, Performance (March 2023), Buckinghamshire.

The Dreamer Awakes, (March 2023), Radio Broadcast: Soundart Radio, Devon.

‘Becoming Bird, I: Spring’ Video (2023).

‘The Unique Tale,’ Performance, (October 2022), Wycombe Arts Centre.

‘We Are The Granddaughters of Those Who Didn’t Burn’ Video, (2021-2022) Goddess Lounge, February 2022; After Progress’ Online Exhibition, and Goldsmiths, London (March 2022).

‘Indra’s Horse’ a tale from the Mahabharata, Video (2021), in collaboration with Ojapali performer: Nayanjyoti Nath for @folklog + @brtitishcouncil.

‘Red is the Colour of Pomegranates’, 4 Videos, digital artist’s residency (DAR), (1.9.20 – 31.12.20).

‘Macha’s Body in Pain’, 2020. Performance + video.

Recent Publications + Paper Presentations:

‘When things fall apart, and the centre cannot hold.’ To be published April 2024. Trans-States: Art of Revelation, Monad: Journal of Transformative Practice.

Unravelling Haptic Visuality, and Notions of Care Through Two Videos About Death. Walker, A., & Milne, J., (2023) Research in Arts Education. Vol. 2023 No. 2 (2023).

‘Collectively listening and collaborating with ARE (Art, Resilience and Economy).’ Walker, A., Garrelfs, I., Mackenzie, L., A joint presentation: The Listening Academy, London, August 29 – September 4, 2022 https://listeningbiennial.net/

‘Macha’s Body in Pain, a Story, a Performance.’ March 2023. https://www.logos-verlag.de/cgi-bin/engbuchmid?isbn=5285&lng=eng&id=.

‘Becoming Bird, I: Spring.’ Walker, A., Unlikely Journal for Creative Arts, January 2023. https://unlikely.net.au/issue-08/becoming-bird

‘Intimate entanglements: breathing, listening and touching.’ Walker, A., (2022) Futures of Care: Relationality and Responsibility in more than Human Worlds. Thackery Museum of Medicine, Leeds University, April 8, 2022.

‘Stuhl mit Fett/ Fat with Chair, 1963-1985, by Joseph Beuys. A discussion, with images.’ Walker, A., (2021) Humankind and Fat, Attraction, Repulsion, Health and Politics. October 28-29, 2021.

‘Revisiting PhD research, In and Out of Memory: Exploring the Tension Between Remembering and Forgetting When Recalling 9/11, a Traumatic Event.’ MEMORY, TRAUMA AND RECOVERY. International Interdisciplinary Conference. September 16-17, 2021.

‘Whose story is it anyway? A discussion about the trauma of cultural appropriation.’ A paper and discussion. Narrating Violence: Making Race, Making Difference. March 2021.Gdansk, Poland.

‘The Canopic Jars: The Afterlife of Matter, A Work in Progress.’ The Learned Pig, (2020) www.thelearnedpig.org/canopic-jars-the-afterlife-of-matter/760

PhD Thesis research: In and out of memory: exploring the tension between remembering and forgetting when recalling 9/11, a traumatic event.

My research is an unravelling of a traumatic memory to describe, understand and answer questions about the ‘trauma body.’ In my research, I put forward the idea that traumatic memories are detached memories with an emotional resonance that fixes them historically in a specific place and time, unwieldy anchors for a body that is neither here (present), nor there (in the past). I analyse this paradox from philosophical and psychoanalytical perspectives. Through a layered arts practice of text, sonic art work, and moving and still imagery I examine the tension where trauma meets memory, whether in an attempt to forget, or an effort to remember. Memory in this context is perceived as crucial towards understanding oneself socially, culturally and personally, whilst trauma is understood as an experience borne by the act of ‘leaving,’ wherein the mind’s coping mechanism overwhelmed by shocking external events fractures or splits.

I began this process by revisiting a journal written on the day of and days following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A journal that had remained closed and unread until starting my research in 2012. My aim was to deconstruct my memory of this traumatic event, lay it to rest and explore the latent witnessing that defies assimilation into a narrative. I employ autoethnography as a methodology to facilitate a greater understanding of trauma and its wider cultural implications, overlaying my personal memories upon a well-established collective memory of 9/11. Autoethnography, in this instance, is a reformulation of ethnography or anthropology, an in-depth examination of context incorporating cross-disciplinary approaches. With an emphasis on self-reflection and subjective participation, as both the artist and the owner of certain memories, my intention was to engage a larger epistemological discussion of the meeting place of trauma and memory.

Six Fragments, (Moving Imagery and sound, 32.58 minutes, 2014-2016) and Remembering, (Moving Imagery and sound, 18.53 minutes, 2015-2017) were submitted as part of this thesis.