Would you care to…

Take a half-hour glimpse into the lives of sisters Gemma and Katherine, as they discuss care, their shifting relationship and their love of a cuddle. Expect dancing and sewing, laughter and tears and a song about the many frustrations, big and small, that Gemma experiences living as a Disabled person in an ableist world.

When artist Katherine asked her sister Gemma if she’d like to make something together, she said yes. After a five-year exploration into their unique relationship, during which Katherine moved back home, Gemma became an Auntie, and the world experienced a global pandemic, they’ve made this interactive film and accompanying booklet.

Would you care to… is a chance to slow down, think about those you care for and to make a bookmark for them. Enjoy a sing-a-long with Gemma and Katherine, and have a giggle and a good cry while you’re doing it. We hope you’ll feel like you’ve had a warm hug, maybe the first one in a long time.

This work was commissioned by HOME and has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by Yorkshire Dance, South East Dance and The Lowry.

We’ve been commissioned!

We’re so excited to share with you that HOME Manchester has commissioned us to make a digital work. We’ll be creating new footage and using content from our previous research to make a 30-minute film with accompanying booklet.

We can’t wait to be working together again, it’s been a tough time for everyone and hopefully we’ll be able to work safely during these times to make something great! Gemma and Katherine x

The next stage

Gemma and I continued to work on our Sisters project this year. Here’s a few snaps from our day in the recording studio and our sharing at Yorkshire Dance. As you can see we love a matching t-shirt… I mean, why not?

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This project was generously supported by Yorkshire Dance, South East Dance, Dance Manchester, The Lowry and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

A review of sorts…

As part of our project, Gemma and I went to see Arthur Pita’s Stepmother/Stepfather at The Lowry. Here’s what Gemma thought of the show:

It was a nice performance. It was nice seeing ladies or other sisters performing.

Without giving too much away, the first half was about sisters and Snow White doing some kind of sister acting or dancing. Then the second half of the show was a family dance and a mother + daughter and a father + son dance. Well that’s what I saw it as anyway.

From where we were sat it looked like a jungle scene in the second half, because after the main curtain moved there was another kind of curtain with monkeys, birds and a face of an ape. But the first act was black with Snow White in a yellow dress with a red ribbon and make up on.

It made me feel slightly chilly, it was a very good performance. There was only one act at the very end that nearly brought me to tears.

Sisters Q+A

Sisters Research Q&A
Tuesday 20th June at 6pm at The Met, Bury
Book here


Sisters Gemma and Katherine have been doing some research together on their unique relationship. We’ve had lots to talk about as we’ve known each other for nearly 30 years. Topics have included care (giving and receiving), jealousy, disability, Michael Jackson, films, being normal, sprouts, our new niece Iris and dancing.

We’d love for you to join us for a drink and a natter about what we’ve discovered so far.

Gemma is a huge Michael Jackson fan with a love for sprouts. She lives in a bungalow in Bury supported by carers and is nearly 40.

Katherine is a professional dancer with a love for tea and cake. She lives in London with her husband Jack and is nearly 30. www.katherinehollinson.com

This project is supported by The Met, Dance Manchester and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


Care and caring

Something that keeps cropping up is care.

Who cares for us and who do we care for? Where do your scales balance when it comes to giving and receiving care? Do you have equal exchanges with people or do you go to some people to be cared for and others to give care to?

Gemma has carers that visit her 6 days a week for at least 3 hours. They help her prepare her hot meal for the day, assist her with personal hygiene and getting dressed and help with housework. On some days they are with her for longer and go food shopping, into Bury town centre or to the cinema with her. She goes to the cinema every Saturday with her main carer that has been with her for 9 years. Gemma has seen pretty much everything that’s been on at the cinema, any film she likes may then have the honour of being added to her extensive (alphabetised) DVD collection.

Recently Gemma had to change care companies at very short notice due to her previous company having to close down. The care crisis that you read about in the news is very real and present in Gemma’s life.

Luckily Gemma’s main carer could transfer to the new company and keep working for her. However since that change Gemma has had several different carers whilst the new company quickly try to fill the gaps left by the previous provider. This means that Gemma has had new people coming into her home, cooking her food, helping her shower regularly for the past month. You can imagine the emotional stress of having to allow people you don’t know into your personal space. Gemma has coped remarkably well with this recent shift but it can often leave her feeling angry and vulnerable when she has a change in the people caring for her.

Doing this research together has made me think about how Gemma is really used to being cared for in a way that I have never experienced as an adult, and don’t think I’d be comfortable with. I find Gemma’s ease with her body remarkable and I’m quite envious of this is some ways, yet it is also something that concerns me.

It’s also made me aware that despite caring for Gemma in lots of ways, I rarely allow or ask her to care for me. I’m not sure why this is but it’s something I’d like to change. There is no-one in my life with a better DVD collection, cuddle or supply of chocolate than Gemma. And often that’s all I need.

Week 2, with Eddie Redmayne (only kidding)

This week we had the brilliant Dan Watson come to work with us. We talked a lot about Eddie Redmayne (Dan’s worked with him, Gemma would like to…), did some improvising using touch, sang our karaoke song to Dan (Gemma made sure he didn’t join in with us) and talked about Gemma’s fear of performing on stage. Gemma’s openness to everything that’s suggested keeps surprising me.

Gemma and Kiki improv from Katherine Hollinson on Vimeo.

I’m learning a lot about the other people in Gemma’s life, particularly the taxi drivers that drive us to and from the theatre. Gemma’s been using the same firm for 10 years now so some of the drivers have know her for a long time. I’d never really thought about all of the people in Gemma’s wider circle that she interacts with on a daily basis.  She talks about her carers a lot and I’ve met most of them at her bungalow but I hadn’t realised that there were more people that Gemma knows so well and who know so much about her life and family.

Let’s see what week 3 holds in store for us!

Sisters – week one

This week I started working on a new project with my sister Gemma. It’s the first time that she’s done research for an artistic project and the first time that she’s been in a dance studio. I’ve been doing these things for quite a while now.

It’s also the first time that we’ve done anything like this together.

I asked Hannah Buckley to join us for the first day mainly because I think she’s great, but also because she works with her sister and she has experience of working with non-professional dancers. I also thought it would probably work out better if someone else was proposing things for us to do to begin with.

We did lots of dancing and particularly enjoyed dancing like our family members. See if you can guess who this one is…

Head jiggle from Katherine Hollinson on Vimeo.