Matt Retallick Research Questionnaire 3: Jo Mary Watson

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Name: Jo Mary Watson

Location: Liverpool

1. What is your relationship to Merseyside? 

Liverpool is my partner’s homeport, and our daughter’s birthplace.

2. How does Merseyside impact or shape your practice? 

I am originally from Hamburg, which is on the same latitude as Liverpool, 53rd parallel north, and that knowledge makes me feel safe and at home here. Belonging and safety are two themes that I explore in my practice a lot so feeling grounded in Liverpool helps and inspires me.

3. What are the positives and negatives of living and working in Merseyside? 

Positives:

I feel like there are many individuals and collectives that provide a lot of opportunities to join in, grow and challenge oneself and others. You can feel part of a community very quickly.

House prices/ rent are affordable.

Scousers are very open and helpful (at least in the bubbles I live and work in).

Negatives:

There are not as many national/ global companies and opportunities in Merseyside, like there are in other parts of the country, which also makes opportunities smaller.

The busses are always late, and Arriva can’t create properly functioning apps.

4. What does independence / being independent mean to you? 

Being able to embrace who I am while at the same time practice self-reflection, challenging myself and listen to others when they have more to say than I do.

5. Is Merseyside a good place to be independent? 

I connect more with the description of “feeling independent” vs. “being independent”, as feeling seems to be more changeable and being sounds constant. Merseyside is a good place to feel independent for me, as I am away from rules and old beliefs that lurk in the shadows of my hometown.

6. What are your favourite examples of independence / the independent in Merseyside?

News from Nowhere.

My child.

The waterfront.

7. What is your favourite cultural organisation in Merseyside and why?

Writing on the Wall. Their courses have carried me during the most difficult times in all the lockdowns, given me confidence and showed me possibilities that I could not see before. 

8. What is your favourite place in Merseyside and why? 

I have two.

1: Albert Docks, because they remind me of the Speicherstadt in Hamburg, and I love being by the water.

2: Formby Beach (just not near the car park), because I love the sea, wind and dunes, and so does my child.

9. If you could make Merseyside different, what would you change, and why? 

I would make old warehouse buildings useable again, not necessarily for living, unless it is for socially underprivileged individuals and families. I would create more opportunities for underrepresented communities and support their growth.

Also, I would somehow make people clean up after their dogs, because navigating around faeces is generally not fun and even worse with a pram or running toddler.

10. Describe Merseyside to someone who’s never visited

A place full of wind, rain, and seagulls. Red (football and politics). Diverse and accepting. They are Scouse, not English.

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