Monica Dowling will host a screening, talk and discussion on Saturday 31 October
from 2 – 4pm exploring international adoption and current TOMA Project Space show
The Only Guatemalan Adoptee in Essex. This interactive session will take place via
live video link on Zoom as part of a public programme in response to José Mario
Dellow’s show which explores adoption, luck, privilege, class and race. You can visit
the show at TOMA Project Space, Southend, until Sunday 15 November.
Monica is a University lecturer who has been researching and writing about inter
country adoption since 2001. Her own experiences of being an adoptive mother have
positively contributed to this work. She has worked with social service user groups,
local authorities, charities and NGOs such as UNICEF and the Runnymede Trust on
a variety of national and international research projects concerned with community
and institutional care, children with disabilities, teenagers leaving care and older
people leaving hospital.
This two hour session will start with a screening of one of Mario’s films which is part
of the current show. Monica will then discuss the exhibition and contextualise it with
contemporary debates surrounding international adoption in relation to loss and gain.
International adoption can bring a new family, love and greater opportunities, but
involves loss in terms of language, culture, identity and love for birth parents.
Furthermore without regulation and careful monitoring, there is a risk of exploitation
and child trafficking – these stories can be hidden from adoptive parents, social
workers, agencies, lawmakers and even nations themselves.
The session will encourage the audience to contribute to this discussion and debate
through activities and questions. All are welcome but TOMA especially welcomes
adoptees and adoptive parents alongside those who have an interest in art and social
Monica says: ‘International adoption involves not only loss of birth parents but also of
culture and traditions while gains can be new beginnings, a secure family, a different
life and the development of a new identity. This workshop will examine these issues
in relation to Mario’s exhibition alongside philosophical and moral perspectives on
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About Monica Dowling: Monica has been involved in research into international
adoption since 2001 and is a member of Coram/BAAF (British Association for
Adoption and Fostering) research subcommittee and was a member of the network
for intercountry adoption representing adoption agencies, adoption community
groups and academics. She is a qualified social worker, youth worker and lecturer
who has taught at the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester, Open University, and
Royal Holloway, University of London. Monica gained her PhD for an ethnographic
study entitled ‘Poverty and Social Work’ and is currently a Visiting Professor at the
University of Sheffield.
The TOMA Project Space is currently hosting The Only Guatemalan Adoptee in
Essex a show from José Mario Dellow which is open every Saturday and Sunday
from 12-5 until 15 November. This exhibition presents context around living as an
adopted person from Guatemala in the UK. It includes contemporary political debate
on adoption and the family, as well as the artist's auto-ethnographic research. You
can read more about the exhibition here: https://www.toma-art.com/toma-project-space
Founded in 2016 TOMA was set up in partnership with Metal in Southend, working with them for an incubation
period before becoming an independent not for profit. TOMA believes in life-long learning and aim to make the
possibility of postgraduate style art education accessible to all. TOMA is artist-run and based in Southend-onSea. This project is supported by Arts Council England.
* Website: www.toma-art.com * Instagram: @theotherma * Email: email@example.com
Event by Emma Edmondson
Event by Emma Edmondson
Opportunity by Emma Edmondson
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