ION-DRI Programme


Navigating uncertainty: A creative knowledge exchange

Ebb & Flow– one of our Trellis:Arbor artist/researcher partnerships explored uncertainty with their community of carers and people with lived experience of dementia.

Participants of the Ebb & Flow project share their work. (Credit:Zoe Maxwell)

EBB & FLOW was a project that set out to foster a collaborative exchange of knowledge between artists, researchers, carers and people with a lived experience of dementia. Our hope was to delve into the complexities of uncertainty and the challenges it presents in these different contexts. Working together to co-create a resource to encourage meaningful dialogue.

From June to September 2023 at 12.01pm every Thursday, over 40 participants were sent the shipping forecast glossary and music as part of an invitation to creatively log their feelings and experiences of uncertainty within a WhatsApp community. 

An example whatsapp messages, delivered to over 40 participants in the Ebb & Flow project at 12.01 every Thursday

The outcome was a wonderful collection of lived experiences which laid the foundation for the EBB & FLOW card deck. This deck isn’t just a collection of cards; it's a narrative vessel and untangling tool. Our hope is that these EBB & FLOW cards can become a companion to be used alone or with friends to facilitate an exploration of the intricate emotions that may arise when we inhabit a space of unknowing.  

On 2 Dec in the Haldane room at UCL we invited everyone to join us to share the intricate process, celebrate the shared stories and the collective creativity that birthed the EBB & FLOW card deck.  

We shared: 

Origin Tales the stories of how EBB & FLOW came to life. We shared the ripple effect that shaped the project, starting from the original team (Lucy, Mar and Tatiana) and expanding with a group of eight project advisors composed of people with lived experience of dementia and their carers, who gave feedback on a monthly basis about the design of the project. We also shared our experience with Tommaso and Nicolas, members of the East London based letterpress studio ossa prints, who helped us design the card deck and hosted us and the advisory team in their studio to do some test prints. 

The Ebb & Flow creative card deck. (Credit:Zoe Maxwell)

Shared Narratives some of our participants recounted their experiences and showcased some of the artworks born from this initiative.

We also played with the cards and made waves with our bodies. 

Finally, we said 
Cheers to the Journey concluding the evening with drinks, nibbles, and conversations, as we raised a toast to our collective expedition.

There was much laughter and some tears. The process for us has been transformative. From a mere idea to a tangible card deck brimming with stories, EBB & FLOW has truly been a journey of embracing uncertainty, discovery, sharing and letting go of having full control over the artwork. Whilst we held the frame of the project, its collaborative nature and non-hierarchical exchange of knowledge meant that we adapted to new ways of working that we have experienced very positively and with learning that will surely impact our individual work.  

How to play

Participants play with the Ebb & Flow card deck. (Credit:Zoe Maxwell)

If you are interested to play with the card deck, please email us We still have a few sets left and can send you a copy. 

These cards can be played alone or with others. We would love for you to also intuit your own unique rituals and ways to play the cards.  

  • Pick one card from each deck, reflect
  • Pick two cards from each deck, create a poem / a song / a dance / a noise 
  • Pick three cards from each deck, choose a beginning/middle/end and tell a story 
  • Pick four cards from each deck, arrange them in a shape