Drawing a Line: Co-created Artefacts as Symbols of Solidarity in Restorative Justice

Team: Clair Aldington, Jayne Wallace, Justin Marshall (Northumbria University); Charlotte Bilby.


Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council


Timeframe: 2017-2021

In this doctoral research we investigate the meaning of making, gifting and solidarity within Restorative Justice (RJ) processes using a longitudinal lived experience case study, interviews and workshops. A co-created design thing is formed through a working relationship between a RJ trained maker and a RJ participant. On completion, the artefact is gifted (with appropriate consents and risk assessments) to the other person involved in the situation of harm, as part of a RJ process. Meredith Rossner analyses the RJ conference (formal facilitated meeting of all parties involved and affected by an offence) in terms of Interaction Ritual (Rossner, 2013; Collins, 2004). Rossner found that, ‘successful’, restorative conferences were the ones with emotional, ‘turning points’, which were followed by bodily expressions of solidarities, such as maintained eye contact, a handshake, or even a hug, between participants. (This was pre-COVID 19). In accordance with Interaction Ritual, an object symbol of these solidarities needs to be formed as a reminder of the positive emotional energy generated by the RJ conference if longer term behaviour change is to be instigated. The research focuses on these expressions of solidarity between RJ participants and the potential for the co-created artefact to become a symbol for them after the RJ process has completed, with potential links to desistance.


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Aldington, C., Wallace, J. & Bilby, C. (2020). Out-casted/ Re-casted; Towards a Lexicon for Restorative Artmaking and Co-creation. In Varona Martínez, G (Ed.), Arte en Prisión; Justicia Restaurativa a través de proyectos artísticos y narrativos (pp. 159-203). Tirant lo Blanch.


Aldington, C. (2020). Cloaks of Encounters/ Capes of the Shoormal; Reflections on two Creative making Sessions as Part of a Workshop on Restorative Justice in Cases of Terrorism. In Varona Martínez, G., Olalde, A. & Igartua, I (Eds.), Caminando Restaurativamente; pasos para diseñar proyectos transformadores alrededor de la justiciar penal (pp. 120-133). Dykinson Editorial.


Aldington, C. (2019, November 4). Out-cast / Re-cast; Making, Gifting and Restorative Justice in an Island Community. Intersections of Arts and Restorative Justice; First Seminar of the Scottish Network of Restorative Justice Researchers, Glasgow University.


Aldington, C. (2019, April 3-6). Drawing a Line; the Ability of the Co-created Artefact to Become a Symbol of Solidarity Between Participants in a Restorative Justice Process. Art in Prisons: Talking Restorative Justice Through Artistic and Narrative Projects, Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Oñati, Spain.


Aldington, C. (2017). The role of the arts and gifting in the restorative process, in Eds. Pali, B. & Biffi, E. Restorative imagination: artistic pathways. European Forum for Restorative Justice, 54-63. http://www.euforumrj.org/publications/books/