Artists Interviews

April 2013: Niamh Lawlor

Co-mentoring Practice Guidelines

Co-mentoring Practice Guidelines

by Guest Editor, Niamh Lawlor

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These guidelines were drawn up Niamh Lawlor, Sue Mythen and Emma Meehan as part of their Co-Mentoring Collaboration in 2011-13 which included a residency in Dublin City Council Arts Office’s Incubation Space Programme at The Lab.

The Co-Mentoring Collaboration was a group of theatre artists from inter-related disciplines applying the benefits of a co-mentoring process to the development of their independent, creative work over over a period of 12 months. It was a development of a Co-mentoring Experiment in 2010, which also benefitted from an Incubation Award and had included Visual Communicator Margaret Lonergan and Theatre Artist Margot Jones. Lonergan and Jones, while not participating as directly in the second manifestation, continued as associates to the process, while Lawlor and Meehan were joined by new member, Mythen.

It was our intention to refine a peer mentoring process as a useful model for the support of independent, creative artists and to further our own work and practice. Each also had an independent project which we used this process to develop. For your interest these are briefly described below.

Niamh Lawlor: Plastic Dreams, examining life cycles and mourning through installation and animation of sculptural forms. She also used the space to document her new show for 3-5 Year olds Tic Teac Tic Teac with associate member Margaret Lonergan.

Emma Meehan: The original idea of creating a work called Fragmented about body image developed into a performance piece that deals more generally with pushing the body and rest through the media of movement and written scores. She honed down collected written and movement material and started layering it through voice recordings, filming, and creating spoken/movement sequences. It evolved into a performance: Speak and was shown at Unit 1 Performance Art Night in Feb 2013 in Smock Alley Banquet Hall.

Sue Mythen: Rock and a Hard Place: construction of a physical narrative for an original theatre work and the basis for future collaboration with Natasha Martina of University of Saskachewan. She began writing the narrative synopsis, mapping out the physical score and explored how Rudolf Laban‘s theories on physical patterning and movement analysis support physical performance.

In addition to our co-mentorship collaboration, each of our individual projects involved other collaborators - Niamh Lawlor with Ríonnach Ní Néill and Slavek Kwi, and Sue Mythen with Professor Natasha Martina. Emma Meehan’s new project is a solo piece but the initial idea of Fragmented was developed with Mary Cate Smith.


  • Maintain good communication

  • Sticking to agreed timetable and being efficient with time

  • Respect for differing points of view

  • Exploitation of common working practices - for example in our case the use of physical warm ups became a vital meeting ground and a good starting point for our work together

  • Allowing space for each member of the group to contribute equally

  • Agreed language around critiquing new work

  • Lack of defensiveness, and an openness to receive feedback

  • Allowing discussion of personal aspects that have impacted the work e.g. balancing work/life, tiredness etc.

  • Half hour ‘landing time’ needed for general chats so this could be separated from mentoring

  • Questions help the mentor and mentee

  • Respect for the shared work space and the organisation of materials into designated areas and common areas.

  • Gifts and treats, no matter how small...a note, a picture, a book, a pen, biscuits, tea


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