Friday, 14 November 2014

…and live from Melbourne

Mike White and Janet Morrison were amongst a panel speaking live on national radio on the first day of the 6th Annual Art of Good Health and Wellbeing International Conference in Melbourne. A big thanks to Mike for mentioning the Recoverist Manifesto which is on track to be published before the month is through. You can hear Mike and the hour long, arts and health discussion that was broadcast on ABC National, by clicking on the not very brilliant photograph below.

As ever, this brilliantly organised and full-on event has been quite something and to those old friends (you know who you are) and new friends and collaborators - thank you. You are inspiring. I send the biggest thanks to Arts and Health Australia’s Margret Meagher who as ever, blew us all away. The best yet Margret. Much more on the conference soon.
I shared the Recoverist Manifesto and it felt good. It was a bit of a relief and thanks to those of you who made the effort to have a chat with me about it. As I said prior to sharing it, I am indebted to Mark Prest of Portraits of Recovery for being an inspiration and friend, to Cristina Nunez for her challenging and evocative work, to Will Self for his support and to all of my peers in Italy, Turkey and the UK who contributed their experience, vision and passion. 

Age Exchange: Reminiscence Arts & Dementia: Impact on Quality of Life
The Kings Fund, London
21st January 2015 10- 4pm
A launch of the results of a 3- year research programme demonstrating how the Age Exchange Reminiscence Arts Approach improves the wellbeing of people living with dementia. This event invites commissioners  and service planners to make a radical shift of their approach in service delivery for people living with dementia. Read more at:

Artists' International Development Fund
Deadline:  16th Jan 2015

The Artists' International Development Fund is a joint initiative between Arts Council England and the British Council to support individual artists based in England to work internationally. The programme offers early stage development opportunities for individual freelance and self-employed artists based in England to spend time building links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in another country. The fund is open for a three-year period 2012-2015, with three application deadlines each year. Grants can be applied for within the £1000-5000 range.       .

Saturday, 8 November 2014

…your knee bone's connected to your thigh bone...

Who said this in the Guardian this week?
“I am arguing for a move in healthcare towards a more renaissance time, when there were not the clear barriers between art and medicine.”

Find out by clicking on the Kneebone above...and with a very feeble excuse to link to Dennis Potter, please enjoy the doctors summing up the patients needs below.

The blog will be added too and subtracted from on an ad hoc basis over the next 2 weeks as I am working out of the country. More of that soon, but for now, day 1 - breakfast out and an oh-so-obvious cover on a weekend supplement! Apologies. When I come to Australia I always meet really interesting, dedicated, free thinkers when it comes to end of life care, so after I got past the sharks in today's paper, it was interesting to read about Philip Nitschke's lawyer who in fact, has terminal cancer. Peter Nugent is defending the GP, humanist and euthanasia campaigner who was suspended from practicing as a GP by the Australian Medical Board earlier this year. That Nitschke is being defended by someone whose own life is limited by terminal illness, is a powerful symbol. It will be interesting to see how the trial, which starts on Monday, progresses  The big question here, is who knows best: doctors or competent, well-informed adults? Click on my breakfast option for more on this story.

This picture, the earliest known photograph to include a recognisable human form, was taken in Paris in 1838 by Louis Daguerre. The human in question is standing in the bottom-left of the photograph, on the pavement by the curve in the road. He is having his boots shined.

I recently shared a funding opportunity for cultural exchange with Japan, this week’s tantalising tidbit is India. Go on - let your imagination run wild and tailor a proposal to an arts/health exchange.

New India Cultural Exchange Fund 
A new £1.5million lottery fund will be available in early 2015 to build creative connections between the people of England and India. The new funding will provide English artists and arts organisations with opportunities to develop collaborations and cultural exchanges with their Indian counterparts. The scheme will be run by British Council and the Arts Council England and will give grants of £15,000-£100,000 to support projects that:
Promote creative collaborations Showcase the best of UK and Indian arts across a range of art forms and activities; etc. Applications open in January 2015 and there will be a second round of funding in 2016 with activity expected to peak during 2017 to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian independence.
Read more at           

Saturday, 1 November 2014

“...fake clowns caused panic’

real clowns are dismayed by the trend.” For this sad reflection on all things clownish, please click on the not-disturbing-in-the-slightest-bit photograph above. Apologies to any clowns this my cause offence too!

A Recoverist Manifesto
A S P I R I N G   G R A P H I C   D E S I G N E R   W A N T E D 
The first Recoverist Manifesto is complete - written up and with a forward by a very surprising and high-profile contributor! This 9 page publication is due off the press, but we need a graphic designer with a benevolent spirit to lend us a hand with the design. Although the coffers have dried up, we want a hard copy and online version this month. If the graphics are left to your very own blogger - they will be atrocious! So, if you have a few hours spare and an eye for typography and colour, email a link to your online portfolio and we can have a chat. 

Being Mortal
Another brilliant piece of writing from surgeon, Atul Gawande who in his new book, Being Mortal, tackles the bigger issues of life and death. Gawande hugely influenced a presentation that I gave at the the 3rd Art of Good Health and Wellbeing international conference in Canberra in 2011, which I wrote up as a book chapter called Towards Sentience in the Handbook of Interior Design and Architecture.

When we think of surgery and our arts/health conversations, it seems like we are a million miles apart. Whilst not being an advocate for the arts as such, Gawande does something that is central to arts/health - he thinks and ultimately acts - differently. His philosophy is one that resonates deeply and alongside the Design Council’s vision statement Design for Care and our very own Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt’s study, The Long-Term Health Benefits of Participating in the Arts - we should have the basis for designing a very interesting symposium on the 12th February. Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest in being involved in this free event. We are throwing everything into the mix to see what we might come up with, and will be in touch well before the Christmas break. There will be the inevitable 'eventbrite' page to sign up soon too!

26th November 2014
Breaking Out of the Temples of Culture: Exploring Arts, Health and Wellbeing Initiatives in the Community
Institute for Public Policy & Professional Practice (I4P)
This symposium will take as its focus community-based cultural activities that seek to foster greater cultural engagement with the arts, facilitate more widespread active participation in culture, generate social capital and improve health and wellbeing in a variety of ways. To stimulate the discussions, we have invited a number of speakers – artists and representatives of cultural organisations – whose work, in different ways, is characterised by, or interested in, the interplay between cultural value and social capital. These activities include, but are not limited to, socially engaged art to local cultural festivals and the promotion, and exhibition of, arts and culture more broadly within local communities. 

Krip Hop Nation
Krip Hop Nation is an international Hip Hop collective uniquely blending lyricism, activism and breakbeats. Featuring MC’s, rappers, DJ’s and musicians from the USA, Germany, Uganda and the UK, they work internationally as a platform for disabled Hip Hop artists and an independent voice for disability led justice and politics. Leroy Moore, who founded the collective, aims to serve a purpose beyond producing music, believing the movement is about advocacy, education and reclaiming oppressive material. For workshop details and more from CONTACT Theatre, click on the poster above.

The little video below is nothing to do with the Krip Hop Nation, but has some damn fine dancing. The Coup are pretty good and if you enjoy the little film, it may be worth clicking on this Boots Riley link. He's the bands singer and this interview with Fox TV is as good as it gets.

Funding for Creative Young People 
IdeasTap, a non-for-profit initiative supports young creative people between 16 and 30 years of age, has announced that its Ideas Fund Innovators is open to applications. During this funding round the Ideas Fund Innovators aims to offer 20 projects £500 each (10 for those aged 16 - 22 and 10 for those aged 23 - 30) to help get them off the ground. In the past, Ideas Tap have funded everything from dance and film projects to music videos and photography collectives. Applications from any creative field will be considered. Ideas Tap are looking for projects that are inspiring, original, innovative and that Ideas Tap think you can deliver. This brief closes on the 19th December 2014 at 5pm and is open to IdeasTap members aged 16 to 30 on the closing date. Read more at:

This year I had the pleasure of speaking at the UK Faculty of Public Health Annual Conference and you can read a small account of the shared presentation The Arts - Authenticity and Exchange in Public Health Today by clicking on the image above.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

…all hail - people of the abyss

"The unfit and the unneeded! The miserable and despised and forgotten, dying in the social shambles. The progeny of prostitution - of the prostitution of men and women and children, of flesh and blood, and sparkle and spirit; in brief, the prostitution of labour. If this is the best that civilisation can do for the human, then give us howling and naked savagery. Far better to be a people of the wilderness and desert, of the cave and the squatting-place, than to be a people of the machine and the Abyss."  
Jack London in The People of the Abyss

Possibly the most interesting job out there at the moment...
DIRECTOR - Art for Amnesty 
(click on the Bob and Roberta Smith image for details) 

The Design Council has launched its Design for Care programme, aiming to help transform care for the 21st century. But why does care need transforming, and how can design help? I think this may be a strong theme for the free symposium that I mentioned in last weeks blog-posting on 12 February next year, here at the Manchester School of Art.  I’m thinking a day that in the morning explores arts and health research and in the afternoon, the issues raised here by the Design Council. I very much hope that alongside post-graduates in design here at MMU, we will be joined by people from the industry and care profession. Let me know your thoughts on this.

‘Design Council is launching a major design programme to improve the quality of care. Over the next three to five years Design for Care will apply world-renowned design talent in a drive to invent and develop new systems, processes, products and services to increase wellbeing, to help reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and to help people stay in their own homes. We wish to create a care system that is more personalised, more connected and more preventative.’

‘To meet this demand we will need to broaden the notion of care from eligibility measured services to the responsibility of the community. It's a challenge of wider collaboration between individuals and carers, family and friends, neighbours and volunteers and professionals.’

Click on the logo below to read the vision statement.

‘This more radical approach requires real imagination. We invite you to be a partner in this important mission.’

They have chosen four themes that they believe will make a difference and together with care professionals, technology companies and others, they will start to put shared thoughts into action.

1. Growing informal care
How do we increase the care contribution of family, friends and the wider community?
2. Transforming our homes
How do we make homes that better support wellbeing?
3. Enabling better choices
How can we support people to make effective choices for their own care needs or those of a loved one?
4. Places and spaces for care
What are the best environments in which to deliver collaborative care?

Funding for Links with Japan
The Daiwa Foundation which support closer links between Britain and Japan is seeking applications under its small grants programme. Grants of £3,000-£7,000 are available to individuals, societies, associations or other bodies in the UK or Japan to promote and support interaction between the two countries. Daiwa Foundation Small Grants can cover all fields of activity, including educational and grassroots exchanges, research travel, the organisation of conferences, exhibitions, and other projects and events that fulfil this broad objective. New initiatives are especially encouraged.
The next applications deadline is the 31st March 2015. Read more at by clicking on the sleepy train journey above.

BBC Children in Need Main Grant Programme 
BBC Children in Need has announced that the next applications deadline for its Main Grants Programme is the 15th January 2015. Funding is available to organisations that work with young people who are suffering from:
Abuse or neglect
Are disabled
Have behavioural or psychological difficulties
Or are living in poverty or situations of deprivation.
The Main grants programme is open to applications for grants of over £10,000. 


Sunday, 19 October 2014


A date for your diaries #1
The People’s Republic of Arts and Health* offers a free event, on Thursday 12th February 2015 at MMU. Call it what you will - a symposium - a conference - a networking event?  It will be a free, full day event that shares research, that encourages debate and that showcases practice in our fair Northern lands. More details will follow in December, but the date is confirmed.
*Also known as the North West Arts and Health Network

The stock price of EBOLA 
A couple of thoughts since I last mentioned ebola here on the blog. First, Giles Fraser has some interesting reflections, of which these are disturbing (but not scare mongering) little nuggets, and I quote:

“...the patent for the Ebola virus is owned by the US government”

“Isn’t it interesting that there is money about to ask scientists to turn a virus into a weapon, but not the money about to ask scientists to find a vaccine? And by the time there’s a market for a vaccine, it’s too late.”

“ healthcare is incentivised to keep us sick. For what profit is there in a healthy population? If everyone were healthy, it would be the job of the pharmaceutical companies to persuade us that we were not well, that certain things about us needed fixing, putting right (even if they didn’t).”

My second thoughts are that here, in our arguably gated-community of arts/health, we often pontificate about our synergies with public health - how creativity, culture and the arts might promote, protect and prevent. Well - in the face of an evolving public health crisis like ebola - what on earth is the place/role of our agenda? A quick google search brings videos of dancers, music and a plea to create a public recovery exhibition from Shabuta Cultural Arts in Liberia. Obviously, a serious issue demands a serious and coordinated technical response, but if it is a response that comes late and is insensitive to cultural traditions, it’s one that inevitably hits obstacles. Here’s a paragraph and rallying cry from an article in the Liberian Observer from Shabuta Cultural Arts.

“Our artists can remind us of the comfort of unity when isolation fills us with loneliness. Liberian musicians have written songs and more songs about the dangers of ebola. We needed that. Now we need to hear songs of how we are defeating ebola; of how we are empowered with our new knowledge about ebola; our victories over ebola and how we will continue fighting until it is no longer a threat. As we listen to this unifying music, we will connect with it, join in the song and even dance to the rhythm.” 

There is an example of poetic writing from small business owner Patrice Juah, from Monrovia, that you can read by clicking on the title to the taster below.

On the Ebola ride,
paranoia is the driver.
It takes you on a high
leaving your senses hanging in the wild

Finally, here’s a short educational film made by Firdaus Kharas and Brent Quinn that ‘reflects the co-creators approach of creating non-coercive media for social change, in this case using animation to create a message of love to the living through an African spiritual voice’. 

An idea for a potential date for your diaries #2
Are you a virologist, a graphic designer, a philosopher, a nurse - are you an arts/health free thinker who’d like to mull over some ideas around pandemics - viral mutation - scenario planning and public health promotion, protection and prevention? If you are and you’d like to take part in an informal ‘cultural think tank’ in early December, email and if there’s sufficient interest, I’ll facilitate a group session to explore our thinking and maybe our future planning.

Look200 Artist's Day
22nd October 
10am-3pm Manchester Museum
Artists/creative practitioners are invited to join artist Lucy Burscough, as she nears the end of her Look200 arts for health/science engagement residency at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, to spend a day exploring the ideas, process and practicalities involved in delivering Look200, a project that looks at 200 years of research into vision in Manchester. The day will act as a networking event with practical elements and lots of opportunities to learn more about innovative approaches to Arts for Health provision in Manchester. A free Arts Council England funded event with limited places. Please be aware that there will be some walking between venues involved. If you have mobility problems please let Lucy know beforehand. Contact to sign up.

…and finally, a ridiculous security guard at a Sainsbury's store told two women who were having a kiss, that they were 'disgusting' and asked them to leave. You know what happened? A Big Consensual Kiss-In. HA! Of course it was Brighton, and good on them.

*From Robert Greene's, A Notable Discovery of Coosnage (a.k.a. The Art of Conny-catching), 1592: "forewarned, forearmed: burnt children dread the fire."

Monday, 13 October 2014

…hey ho

1000 Shadows
Following on from my brief World Mental Health Day posting (below), I caught a glimpse of Brazilian street artist, Herbert Baglione, who has been busy adding shadows to a long-abandoned psychiatric institution in Parma, Italy  The project is called 1000 Shadows. Find out more by clicking on the image above.

The Stirling Prize 2014
Arts for Health is part of the research institute MIRIAD in the Manchester School of Art at MMU, which this year is an outsider in the annual architectural awards, Stirling Prize 2014. OK, so whilst we are outsiders on this esteemed short list, this doesn’t prevent us being very proud of our building, which you can see a short film of, by clicking on the image above. 

The Best Possible Day
A friend has sent me a link to the New York Times and a moving account of terminal illness and the arts, by Atul Gawande. Beautiful. Click above for the full article. Thank you.

The Cosmos
I am a great one for avoiding those Internet links to silly, sensational stories, but this week I did look at these remarkable images of the earth in relation to other planets in and beyond our galaxy. quite, quite profound. Click above.

The Big Love Little Sista Arts Festival - 28th October 2014 
Celebrating creative work with vulnerable women and young girls across the region (funded by Public Health) with a fabulous day of magic, lunch in the party goddess garden, juicy creative healing workshops run by the young women, free gifts and resources made by young women.  This work will be rolled out across the UK in the coming year so if you would like to partner with us this would be a great opportunity to see how we roll! Click below, to buck the trend in clicking.

Creative England and Microsoft Funding for Game Developers 
Creative England and Microsoft have announced that round 2 of their Greenshoots programme is open for applications. Through the programme, 10 grants of £25,000 are available to independent studios to develop games for Xbox one, tablet and mobile devises. The games from Greenshoots Round 1 ranged from underwater shoot ‘em ups and robot-infested puzzle games, to futuristic galaxy battles and crazy golf. All of the games, now released, were showcased back in July to a crowd of industry experts and investors. In addition to the grants, successful applicants will also receive support, mentorship and expertise from Microsoft and industry partners.
Applications close 9am on the 20th October 2014. Read more by clicking on the Spomenik below.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Manifestas už meną ir psichikos sveikatą!

To mark World Mental Health Day I commend the brilliant ongoing work of my friends and colleagues at Socialiniai Meno Projektai in Lithuania who since their Arts and Mental Health Conference in the spring, have been working to produce an Arts and Mental Health Manifesto which they release today. Click on the MANIFESTAS image above for more detail. 

OK - I know this is in Brighton, but it looks brilliant and its tonight...

Schizophrenia & Us: What can we do better? What can we do differently? 
Friday 10th October
7.30pm- 9.00pm
The Basement, 24 Kensington Street, Brighton, BN1 4AJ
Visit our web page:

One in every hundred people live with schizophrenia and social factors are increasingly being recognised as causes. We ask if we could be tackling the condition better or differently as a society and what role should medication play in the process.