Besides being a community arts-based intervention, project e-ma* was also a doctoral research project. Organised and run by Dr. A.R.Woollock, a former Ph.D. student in the School of Education at the Queen's University of Belfast, Project e-ma utilises the theoretical from of Paulo Freire's 'Critical Pedagogy' applied through Donna Mertens' action research based, 'Transformative Paradigm' to engage citizens from working-class communities with notions of hope.
By facilitating dialogue and discussion on the theme of hope, initially recorded in visual form, this intervention aims to raise the consciousness of participants to question aspirations of hope: hopelessness, hopefulness etc. Furthermore, by assembling the e-ma together on the Wall of Hope these collective multiplicitous voices are brought together to form a truly democratic artwork which then allows the fragmented community to not only experience cohesion but also engage with the plurality and diversity of hope in the community, and what those concepts might mean.
This show of diversity, which embraces the hopes of all residents, irrespective of what they hope for also disrupts the static, unidirectional and monolithic murals which clearly run counter to the principles of democracy and cannot, by their inherent nature, represent the plurality of any given community.Nor can they allow for any discourse or 'talking back' because the singular image which is presented is not open to debate or discussion and indeed is not intended to foster these democratic principles.