Sunday, 18 November 2018

A Delicate Ecology

I've been to a fair share of anaemic conferences in my time, but the ENGAGE conference at the Whitworth Art Gallery was one to blow your socks off! First of all, a big thank you to Jane, Jessica and Sayak for asking me to speak and arranging such a rich agenda. It was great meeting lots of new people and some old, familiar faces. Superb to be part of a well considered programme, but I do wonder how that fringe activity went? (It makes me think long and hard about this World Healthcare Congress that Esme Ward and I are co-curating next March - and the way the cost of these big events makes it prohibitive for so many people. We’ll certainly be making sure that there’s space/time for fringe events on and around this event.)

For my part, I’m only sorry we all didn’t have more time to talk - so many people under one roof! Claire Ford - superb as ever - and rocketing on with brilliant things. I reckon that anyone living with dementia who has been fortunate enough to spend time on a piece of work with her, will certainly treasure her thinking, warmth and total ingenuity.

For my part, I’d taken the request to think and speak about our contemporary arts and health landscape, very seriously, and I was certainly a little worried, that as opposed to rousing the delegates, I might bring the party down! Not least following the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s speech last week on social prescribing. Yes, there were good and interesting things in his words - who wouldn’t want to see an end to the blind belief in the claims of big pharma to control our fractured mental health? So offering the arts up as a challenge is great, while not being blind to the benefits of medication. But is he really calling for a war on drugs? I’m sure a reduction in the tax revenues they bring in might not go down too well with his pals in the Treasury. Read more by clicking on his new school bag below.

Anyway, my spasmodic revulsion - (and I have to admit to greatly tempering my keynote at the 11th hour) - was at the idea of the arts offering a ‘free social cure’. Anyway, if you want want to know more and you are not already sick of my droning on, below is a quick rough cut of the presentation I gave, which brings together minds far greater than mine from a few recent book chapters. Take it as you will - only beware - it sounds like the arts are being offered up as a cheap way of decorating over the cracks of an already fragile health system. And there are one or two decorators out there, only too ready to capitalise on this opportunity. Great claims should be tempered by a little caution - and borne of experience. 

Influence Arts Council England...

I do have to prompt people to comment on Arts Council England’s consultation on their next ten year strategy. We really can influence their direction if we take ten minutes out and comment on it HERE.

Wellbeing & Care for Arts Practitioners
Artist and 2017/18 Clore Visual Artist Fellow Nicola Naismith is seeking contributions to her latest research project looking at the support creative practitioners receive when working in the participatory arts for the health and wellbeing sector. Explains Naismith: “It is essential that the health and wellbeing of artists is properly supported, which in turn will help them to deliver the best quality work in the participatory arts for health and wellbeing sector. The evidence base of the benefits to health and wellbeing from participating in the arts continues to grow, but what about the health and wellbeing of the creative practitioners delivering these activities?” Read more HERE. Complete the short survey HERE.

Sing-a-Long & Dance-a-Long to old school arts and health...
Meanwhile in Australia - I'm steering clear of bats with the hendra virus, old koalas with chlamydia, and the white-fever of evangelical singing and dancing in the name arts and health. See the apparently authentic footage above, taken covertly at a recent jamboree! For eager eyed visitors to this blog, you'll know I've gone deep south and am developing a longer-term piece of work with artist Vic McEwan, which although not directly linked to the Harmonic Oscillator, does build on some of those fundamental thoughts in Critical Care and takes our shared work to a very, very different place. More soon.

...and finally, one last song.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Arts & Health

Do you want to influence Arts Council England’s next ten year strategy? This consultation is really important to any of us committed to equality, social justice and health across this wider arts and cultural agenda. You have until 2nd January 2019 to respond. Read on…

Shaping the Next Ten Years
‘The Arts Council is currently developing our new strategy for 2020-2030, which will shape our development, advocacy and investment approach over the next ten years. After gathering and analysing a wide range of evidence, and holding conversations with the public and with stakeholders, we have identified a series of proposed outcomes that we believe we should aim to achieve by 2030.  You can read more about the outcomes below. In this first stage of consultation, we are asking a wide range of stakeholders if they agree that these outcomes are the right things for Arts Council England to focus on over the next decade, and if so, how we might work together to achieve them. We would like to hear from a diverse mix of individuals, groups and organisations.’ Full details HERE.

An Australasian Perspective
I am very much looking forward to spending time in New South Wales later this month working with Vic McEwan on a long term piece of work which follows on from The Harmonic Oscillator to which the CAD Factory have been awarded the 2018 Australian Prize for Distinctive Work from the Council of Humanities Arts & Social Sciences. This is an enormous honour and I’m thrilled to have been a part of this work. You can read some of my account of this work in Critical Care which is available directly from me, or from TATE Liverpool and HOME bookshops. For those of you itching to hear more from Vic about his ongoing work, I can host a very small number of public places at a free event I am facilitating at MMU on Thursday 8th November between 11am and 12noon. Details directly from me HERE. And Vic will be giving a public seminar on Wednesday 7th November between 16:00 and 17:30, the details of which follow.

The Butterfly Kiss: Exploring The Materiality, Affect and Performativity of contemporary arts practice within complex community settings
MMU Brooks Building, Room 4.48
Vic McEwan, The Cad Factory
The Cad Factory is an Australian based organization creating an international body of work that often deals with the fractures borne from the lived experience of people and place. Positioning creative practice as an open ended and responsive examining of the poetics of care within our communities, The Cad Factory encourages arts practice to bear witness to, contribute to and respond to the thresholds and tensions, blends and blurs ((Seigworth, Gregg 2010) of the lived experience.

Guided by the MAP (Materiality, Affect and Performativity) of communities and of cross disciplinary arts practice, The Cad Factory positions itself in what Anna Tsing might call “Zones of Awkward Engagement” in order to engage with and contribute to various communities.
Hear about projects ranging from long-term collaborations with Indigenous communities around histories of massacre and colonisation, projects exploring health within clinical settings, as well as projects examining complex issues around suicide, environmental and cultural loss and climate change. Contact details for this are not with me, but are HERE.

There is much on my mind right now - and it comes out here - like a throbbing boil that needs lancing. Although I’m sure one should never lance a boil -
but you know what I mean.

I watched Harry and Megan What’s their Name over in Australia doing their thing around public discussions of mental health, mental illness and mental difference - and I know - all discussions about our psychic terrain should be made in public. I’m acutely aware of his dysfunctional family background too, and if royals have any contemporary purpose, maybe this is it - some deep public analysis of the ‘nature or nurture’ arguments that surround mental distress in all its forms. Then I watched some highlights of the Invictus Games - and one can’t fail to be moved by the physical and mental strides these athletes have made, from some unimaginable horror to televised heroism of the 21st century. Rousing stuff. But look a little closer at the Invictus Games website and have a peek at just what proud ‘supporters’ they have on board including amongst others Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Leidos and Saab - all either major armament manufacturers, or arms logistics and comms.
Image posted on facebook by CakeInternational (I kid you not)
Nick Deane writing for the always interesting New Matilda observes that, “on the one hand these companies and their shareholders grow rich through creating, selling, researching and constantly ‘improving’ weaponry and weapons systems. But it is weaponry that has produced the horrific injuries sustained by the Games’ participants.” You can read his compelling article in full HERE. With the appalling story of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the UK and US continued commitment to selling arms to Saudi Arabia, perhaps the Invictus Games should think carefully about its ‘supporters’ and not simply let them appease their guilt and keep their investors coffers full.

Poetry Emergency

Poetry Emergency is a two-day festival exploring emergency and liveness in radical poetic art, taking place in Salford and Manchester on 23rd and 24th November 2018. Bringing together some of the most challenging and surprising poets and performers of the moment, we ask how poetic art can intervene against passivity and fear in order to agitate and inspire. In the emergency-prone moment of anxiety and disaster-creation, how can the mini-revolutions of language art snowball into communities of support and resistance? Crossing between poetry readings and performance, and integrating workshops and discussions into the programme, Poetry Emergency will be a rare and exciting creative and learning event for the North West. Full details HERE. 


For the first time over 2017-2018 Socialiniai meno projektai has conducted an in-depth research study of accessibility of Lithuanian art museums/galleries to people living with disabilities. Over 100 interviews have been conducted with people with disabilities and with representatives of museums across Lithuania. This is a ground-breaking large-scale piece of work that will be shared across Lithuania in November and December. The study has been supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Culture Council. Full details and registration HERE.

Entelechy Arts

General Manager£30,000 - £32,000
Deadline - 16th November
Entelechy Arts is a pioneering arts charity working in the fields of art and social change. Based in South-East London it has achieved national and international acclaim for its work with older people and those with complex disabilities. For over 25 years the company has been making exciting, contemporary work in the centre of its community. Entelechy Arts is looking for a brilliantly organised General Manager to help deliver a busy and exciting programme. Full details HERE.

Storytelling for Health Conference
We are delighted to announce that ABMU Health Board and the University of South Wales are working together with a range of partners towards the next conference ‘Storytelling for Health 2: Patient Stories’, which will take place on 27th, 28th and 29th June 2019.  We will be narrowing the focus slightly for this conference to look at how patient experiences are captured, presented and understood through story.  We hope this will make for some provocative and productive conversations. See full details HERE.

Monday, 8 October 2018



Deadline 29th October 2018
Conference Date: 5 – 7 March 2019
Venue: Manchester Central, UK

The World Healthcare Congress Europe will showcase new approaches to health and social care delivery. In today’s current climate healthcare professionals are facing a multitude of political, social and financial challenges. The conference will explore how the revolution of healthcare delivery will have a significant impact on health. Our audience of 1,000 will consist of representatives from all sectors of healthcare, academia and leading government agencies. The Congress will provide a platform for the discussion of three themes, one of which is Arts for health & social change. I'm honoured to be co-curating this conference theme with Director of Manchester Museum, Esme Ward.

The possibilities of the arts in all their forms impacting on health and social change, is of growing interest to communities and policy makers alike. In the UK the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health & Wellbeing published the groundbreaking report, Creative Health illuminating new possibilities in how we understand and address contemporary health challenges.

This conference theme will focus down on the possibilities of culture, heritage and the arts in the context of issues ranging from how we might address the social determinants of health – to research and practice around the life course, our mental health and how we age well.

In Greater Manchester, a city region that is central to the birth of the arts and health movement, this theme gives delegates the opportunity to experience and interrogate the ways in which we understand the lived experience of communities and the factors that influence public health, address inequalities and influence health outcomes. We propose that participation in culture and the arts has the potential to radically shape the future of the health and social care landscape and give voice to the most marginalised members of our society.

For those of you undertaking research or wanting to share your work, please note that this global event will happen in Manchester for two years consecutively and in March 2020 there will be your second opportunity to apply.

Find out more about the conference HERE.
Submit an abstract HERE.

For those of you interested in being part of a fringe event - keep your eyes on this blog...


Sunday, 30 September 2018


Over October and November I’ll be facilitating some Manchester Declaration sessions across Greater Manchester (GM) as part of the development of guiding principles to underpin the Manchester Institute for Arts, Health & Social Change. Across our ten districts of GM, we have a huge breadth of individuals and groups across our communities, and we have many people of who fall off the radar in the shadow of the bigger organisations - we want to connect with you! 

So - what’s it all about? Well if you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who believes in the power of the arts in all their forms - know it in your mind, feel it in your heart - it courses through your veins with a passion. Participating in the arts and soaking up culture is food for your very being - your sanity, your health and just possibly as a means of social change. But how does it manifest in your life?

In fact - these conversations have already begun through two large scale events and two very small events! Last week I had the great pleasure to be invited to share some of the Institute’s aspirations with the steering group of Venture Arts - and explore their dreams too. I left feeling motivated and inspired by this session with a couple of deep resonant ideas about what art making does - explicitly - ‘it makes us powerful’ - and thinking through future collective possibilities - ‘we’ll get there in the end’. Thank you Venture Arts and thank you to everyone involved on Friday.

This Manchester Declaration will be a shared statement from you and you and you - a diverse mix of people with varied and rich life experiences with all of us contributing to a collective vision for these next five years driven by a belief that - things can be different.

There are an array of researchers* out there who’d like to randomise you, control you, trial you - quantify your being, wringing out and distilling your very essence - those who privilege ways of understanding that are reducible and devoid of nuance and imagination. We however, will inhabit a space that moves towards health creation and social change and we will explore new ways of understanding the potency of arts and culture.

Photo credit -Yes I Wanntt Do Trricksserr,
Barry Anthony Finan courtesy of OutsiderXchanges
So if you represent a group of people who are somehow disconnected from wider arts/health conversations in Greater Manchester, but want to be part of this declaration - get in touch - there’s a real power in difference and exchange. If you don’t want to take part in a session - why not send me responses to any of the following comments/questions? Either way - email me HERE.

1. If you could shout from the rooftops - tell the world about what you do - what would you be sharing - what's your story?

2. Research - how might we do things differently?

3. How do you imagine the arts influencing social change?

4. Who defines value and what might new knowledge look like?

I see the dear old Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published one of its national Happiness Surveys in which it reveals that Aldershot (in the Hampshire district of Rushmore) is the happiest part of the UK. A pithy little article in the Guardian suggests that the ONS might not reflect lived experience of all its citizens, with Mark & Spencer and Poundworld all having recently closed down and a number of shops on its main street being ‘boarded up.’ “If you can show me one person in Aldershot who’s happy, I’ll give you a free haircut,” promised the local barber Giovanni Gomma, and in one of the ‘highest Brexit-voting constituencies in the south of England,’ one resident having coffee with her mates outside Costa report that, “everything is closed here, there is nothing to do,  people call it Aldershit.” In other Aldershot news, I see a woman who dumped demolition waste, including hazardous asbestos in the local recreation ground has been fined more than £1,400. Ah you can’t beat good old statistics!

Cartwheel Arts, art for well-being team run creative projects across Greater Manchester with an aim to maintain or enhance well-being for adults and young people. We are currently recruiting to expand out freelance team. We contract experienced artists and Emotional Support Workers, who are either Art Therapists or registered Counsellors, to deliver projects in tandem, providing artistic inspiration and learning as well as robust support systems for vulnerable participants. If you are interested in Emotional Support Worker roles follow the link HERE to find out more.  

Clod Ensemble are coming up to Salford this Autumn with a brand new show, Placebo.  We'll be premiering the piece at The Lowry from 11-13 October. We are partnering with Manchester Science Festival, Wellcome Collection and other cultural & health institutions to deliver a programme of workshops and talks about the placebo effect. This programme is called The Power of Placebo, and will bring together scientists, artists, ethicists and anthropologists, to explore how our attitudes, beliefs, relationships, rituals and environments can affect our health for better or for worse.  The events will be especially interesting for those interested in medical humanities and arts in health. To find out more about this exciting range of events click HERE or on the flyer above.

Manchester Museum and Ambition for Ageing, supported by the Big Lottery Fund’s Ageing Better programme and Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund’s Great Place Scheme, are delighted to be recruiting for this brand new post. The Age-Friendly Culture Champions Manager will continue to develop the existing Culture Champions programme within Manchester, and extend it – in collaboration with existing champions – across agreed areas of Greater Manchester. Further details, including how to apply, can be found HERE. 


Established in 1973, Lime is an award winning Arts and Health charity based at Manchester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MFT). Lime delivers a range of artist led projects across MFT as part of its site specific environmental arts programme and the participatory arts programme. We now have a new and exciting opportunity at Lime for an experienced project manager to coordinate and drive forward Lime’s Environmental Arts Programme. The Project Manager will report to the Director of Lime to ensure the scope and direction of each project falls in line with Lime’s Vision for the Arts at MFT. They will demonstrate adequate knowledge, skills and experience of successfully managing complex art and design projects within the public domain. They will also work closely with major stakeholders, partners and project teams to ensure Trust protocols are adhered to and projects are completed on time and within budget.

This post presents an exciting opportunity to become a key member of Lime and make a major contribute towards the successful delivery of a diverse arts and health programme across MFT.
This post is fixed term, however it will be reviewed for continuation in March 2019. Full details HERE.

And Breathe…
Steve Slack writes about the And Breathe… exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery which he says offers ‘an experimental space dedicated to our minds and wellbeing and asks us to use a painting as a way of switching off our busy brains.’ Read more HERE. 

*the narcissists propagating a reductionist research cult, who look likely to dominate the centre ground of mainstream arts and health. Be afraid, be very afraid…


Sunday, 23 September 2018


What a week - arts overload of the very best kind, courtesy of the wildest range of exciting and shimmering cultural activists. Of course - I want to talk about it all here - but if I do, you'd inevitably be drowned in text - that said - can I? Just a little?

First of all - a small film dropped into my inbox from a Chilean film maker and ethnographer, and I’m not sure if I have permission to share it - but if and when I do - you’ll be the first see it. It’s short and sweet and follows four men living with HiV and is a thing of great beauty and lyricism. If I can’t share, I’ll post you in the right direction to find out more about the film maker and film.

On Thursday Walk the Plank hosted a Live Well Make Art (LWMA) event that saw a superb range of health professionals, third sector and arts practitioners come together to explore work - and possible links to arts/health. I’m deeply indebted to Paul Dwyer from the University of Sydney and all his collaborators who created the piece of verbatim theatre - Grace Under Pressure - for allowing me to share elements of their work, which premiered last year at The Big Anxiety Festival. Superb, revelatory and disconcerting theatre that highlights the workplace and training culture within healthcare settings that sees nurses, doctors and interns under enormous stress, often resulting in a culture of unacceptable pressure and resultant hierarchical bullying. You can find more about this work by clicking HERE. This rainy-day event was bursting to the seams with diverse talent and chaired by the writer Amanda Dalton, to whom our huge thanks. The next LWMA event will take place in Oldham on October 19th and will focus on Motherhood, Early Years and the Arts, which you can find out more and book tickets for HERE.

This brings me on to an event organised by ARC and at which I facilitated a large-scale conversation with artists, researchers, psychologists and health/care professionals in Manchester Gallery. The event was part of a superb collaboration between the artist Sarah Greaves and ARC in an exploration of perinatal mental health and ‘wealth’ (my addition) which compliments her exhibition currently on show at Manchester Art Gallery. The exhibition -  The Other in Mother - closes this Sunday - but don’t fret, it tours to Leeds Museum (9-12 October) and Gallery Oldham (17-19 October). This last venue will be where the LWMA event takes place! Neat huh?

Sarah Greaves has been working with women who are recovering from postnatal depression, creating a Library of Objects on social media from women all over the world and interviewing perinatal health professionals to research the psychological impact of becoming a mother.

In response to her research, Sarah has created an immersive installation of manipulated objects representing diverse experiences of maternal transition. Her work as always, provokes a range of responses and invites you to actively engage with it, and she presented her work at the seminar, at which this large group conversation took place. A big thank you to all the women present for sharing their candid and rich stories and thinking. Impossible to name all the participants - but just a quick wow to the artists/curators/activists who contributed: Helen Knowles, Helen Sargeant, and Amy Dignam, psychologist Anja Wittkowski, Manchester Gallery’s Katy McCall and Naomi Kendrick. Finally to artistic director of ARC Jacqui Wood, my big thanks for the invitation to take part. What did we discus, you might ask - censorship and taboo, the diversity of lived experience, inequalities, the dominance of technological births and the possibilities of moving from the individual to the collective - oh - and the arts at the heart of doing things differently. Superb and thanks to everyone.

Finally, a new exhibition burst into life at the Whitworth - and this isn’t the work of William Kentridge I’m talking about - its the sumptuous, intimate and beguiling work of Alice Kettle and the enhancing The Travelling Heritage Bureau. Thread Bearing Witness is a major new series of large textiles that considers cultural heritage, refugee displacement and movement, while engaging with individual migrants and their creativity within the wider context of the global refugee crisis. Thread Bearing Witness represents displacement though the migration of stitches, using the three strands of artistic representation, participation and creative resilience, testing ways of belonging within a cultural space, and using textile as a medium of integration, collective expression and resilience to displacement.

“Simultaneously, Alice is working on a local level to connect personally with individual women and children refugees and asylum seekers, asking them to work with her to contribute to and inform new monumental stitched artworks. These artworks are inspired by the strength, resilience, and hospitality of refugees and asylum seekers whom she and her family have worked with. Artists at the centre of this work include: Kani Kamil, Ana Lucia Cuevas, Shahireh Sangrezeh, Monika Rajani, Aida Foroutan, Firoozeh Fozouni, Mahboobeh Rajabi, Roxana Allison, Roua Nazar, Zhila Mozoun, Manya Alkhmri, Rand Aljundi, Shaheda Choudhury, Johura Choudhury, Susan Kamara, Mei Yuk Wong, Gloria Saya, Khalida Alkhmri, Ekua Bayunu, Anya Mikolajczyk, Angelica Cabezas.
The Digital Women’s Archive North CIC (DWAN) is linking to the project the Travelling Heritage Bureau which will address both the need to ensure the participation of women artists in contributing to arts archives, and the additional complexities of displacement for undertaking arts archive development.” Read more HERE. 

You can read more about The Travelling Heritage Bureau HERE. In essence it is is “a co-research project and supportive network with and for international women artists based in the North West of England. The Bureau is a space of resistance, creativity and inclusion; a space for women artists including refugees, exiles, those seeking asylum and other migrant women with direct experiences of journeying or displacement. Steered by the brilliant Jenna Ashton, Digital Women’s Archive North (DWAN) leads the project – a Manchester based feminist arts and heritage organisation supporting women's practice and addressing social inequalities. The Bureau aims to ensure the arts practice and cultural heritage of international women visual artists is identified, documented and shared.”

Castlefield Gallery
I'm excited to be sharing personal & professional stories around my arts and health journey and some thoughts on policy context in Greater Manchester. All taking place at Castlefield Gallery on Tuesday evening...

…and for those of you eager beavers keen to know where the  Manchester Declaration  is up to - I’m thrilled to be holding some smaller group conversations with very diverse groups of people across Greater Manchester this next month - I think when all these aspirations and commitments are woven together, we will have quite a thing to sign up to!

For those of you living and working in Australia, I'm pleased to be back sharing new ideas and exploring long-term collaborations this November in New South Wales, more of which soon.   

Making Change: children and families grow together through creativity and nature – project symposium

We invite interested individuals, educators, artists, arts and community organisations and health and wellbeing networks to our symposium on Friday 19th October from 12 – 5pm at the Sidney Nolan Trust. 

Guests will learn about the project’s approach to sharing creative practice with children and their families marginalised from access to visual arts culture and the natural environment.  

Over the spring and summer months children and their families have engaged in creative workshops in their own communities and at The Rodd. For most of them daily life is shaped by the affects of multiple deprivation and the constant pressures of urban life: being immersed in a rural environment whilst exploring their own creativity are wholly new experiences. The outcomes have been hugely rewarding for participants – babies, teenagers and parents responded to these opportunities with great openness and a keen desire to learn and connect to the people and place. 

We’ll be introducing a piece of new research that demonstrates the benefits of immersive and inclusive creative experiences delivered in the natural environment for children and families from inner city Birmingham. The research has been undertaken by Dr Karamat Iqbal of The Forward Partnership who has extensive experience of working with disadvantaged communities. Participants, partner organisations, artists and the project will share their experiences, outcomes and findings. As well as a series of short presentations guests will have the opportunity to discuss aspects of the project with those taking part in a Q and A session. 
The event is free of charge and refreshments will be provided. 
Please email us for more information and to register a place  

International Arts and Homelessness Summit– Manchester 15-18 November 2018
Homelessness is not just about housing, and people who are homeless can suffer from a multitude of challenges from practical ‘house-lessness’ to low well-being, social isolation and stigma. The arts are being used effectively around the world to reduce social isolation by building social networks and increasing both physical and mental health, improve public attitudes/promote understanding towards people who are or have been homeless, and enable homeless people to express themselves so their voice can be heard.

From 15 to 18 November the international movement for the arts and homelessness With One Voice is holding the first ever International Arts and Homelessness Summit. (NB the four-day Summit sits within a week-long Festival from 12-18th where all events are free. Details will be released soon).
Join us to discover, interrogate and celebrate the role the arts can play in tackling homelessness.

This four-day conference will explore the themes of People, Practice, Policy, Performance and Partnerships in relation of arts and homelessness. With People and Performance at its heart, the Summit focuses on one of the themes each day bringing together practitioners, artists, activists, academics and policy makers together. 50% of the tickets available are allocated for people who are or have been homeless to be able to attend for free. 
Each day, attend key-note speeches and panel discussions in the morning and join in practical workshop sessions in the afternoon. On Saturday, visit organisations across Greater Manchester for taster sessions and seeing their work first hand. On Sunday, join us for a reflection day and the closing performance of Man On Bench Fairy Tale, a new opera by Unlimited supported Emerging Artist David Tovey of the One Festival and Museum of Homelessness. All tickets include a free light breakfast, tea/coffee breaks and lunch (excluding Saturday). Each evening, delegates are also invited to attend free Festival events. Tickets and details are HERE.

Director of Portraits of Recovery and commissioner of the Melanie Manchot commission Twelve, Mark Prest has drawn my attention to this new exhibition in which Twelve features, opening in London on Tuesday. Read on.
Science Gallery, London launches its inaugural group exhibition HOOKED next Tuesday evening. Delve into the complex world of addiction and recovery through this free exhibition and events programme. From gambling to gaming and smartphones to social media, HOOKED invites you to question what makes us as humans vulnerable to addiction and interrogates the underlying factors and routes to recovery. We invite you to challenge the stigmas associated with addiction, consider addiction as a health issue we are all susceptible to, and explore how recovery takes many forms.

Earthed. Just this evening, I walked up across the tops of my home town and over a bluff. Not too far away but far enough not to hear the cars and the low growl of life. Stood up there, sun warm on my back and facing out to the north and easterly sky, those sparse thin clouds and the trails of high planes make the earth shift a little beneath my feet. I fix my gaze on the hills across the valley - steady myself. Darkly green, autumnal tinted with gold - the last of the day. Walking back over the track, my shadow stretching out in front of me, I decide to measure the length of this other giant self. Using gatepost and cattlegrid as markers I walk toe to heal along my temporary self for fifty five neat steps. I hold on to cold limestone and lichen in that half light.


Sunday, 16 September 2018

As long as the wind blows...

Armchair Gallery: Art, Technology and Older People
23 October 2018, 10:30am to 3:30pm
The Lowry | Pier 8 | The Quays | Salford | M50 3AZ
We can’t all get to the gallery …

Created by City Arts (Nottingham), Armchair Gallery is a forthcoming app for iOS and Android. The app brings world-class art and culture into the home and is designed specifically for older people. Led by experienced artist Claire Ford, this training offers a first look at the Armchair Gallery app. You’ll learn how to run creative art sessions for older people, including dementia patients, using the app as part of our specially devised workshop model.

This training will cover:
A preview of the Armchair Gallery app – which offers virtual tours of seven world class cultural venues
Using art and heritage artefacts to inspire and engage older people with dementia
Practical advice on using iPads or Android tablets with older people
Using the ‘Timeslips’ method as part of a creative workshop
The importance of multi-sensory exploration, and how to address all five senses in you workshops
Cost £25 (lunch provided)

Suitable for health providers, care staff and creative practitioners working in a range of settings. Click HITHER.

Events Coordinator/Administrator - Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance
The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) is seeking an enthusiastic, committed events coordinator/administrator to support this young organisation’s development over the next 12 months Deadline: Friday 12 October (5pm)CHWA represents the merger of the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing and the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing to create a dynamic new cultural sector support organisation. CHWA is funded by Arts Council England through Arts & Health South West.
The post-holder will focus on event organisation – ranging from small, local gatherings to national conferences – and general administration. They will work primarily with Victoria Hume, the Director of CHWA, as well as the board and staff of Arts & Health South West and the CHWA steering group.
This will be an exciting opportunity to work for a young, ambitious organisation with a huge range of stakeholders, and to develop your experience and knowledge of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing sector. Click THITHER

Artists wanted for Vawdrey archive project
Applications are now open for artists to be involved with an unique research project.
Outside In is soon set to begin work with the West Sussex Records Office on the cataloguing, preserving, and digitisation of the The Vawdrey Archive.
This archive comprises of approximately 194 paintings produced by patients in art therapy sessions run by Dr Brian Vawdrey (pictured) between 1951 to 1971 – some at the former West Sussex County Asylum, Graylingwell, Chichester – along with a copy of Vawdrey’s illustrated thesis, ‘Art in Analysis’.

The project, which starts on 19 November and runs until the end of June, will see participants need to be able to commit to 15 days which will include; an initial series of bi-weekly sessions - some at West Sussex Records Office in Chichester, creating artwork and visual responses to the archive, self-directed study and attending site visits. There are a maximum of ten spaces available for the project which will aim to help archivists shape the recording of the artwork thanks to the artists’ lived mental health experience. The role also demands good communication and teamwork skills, travels expenses and refreshments will be included. 

Applicants will need to fill out the form found on the link below and send it to Hannah at Hannah or via post to: Outside In, Fabrica, 40 Duke Street, Brighton, BN1 1AG by Monday 15 October at 10am. Interviews will take place Monday 29 October and Friday 2 November.

Last week I attended a suicide vigil over at the Lowry where people who had experienced the death of someone close to them, could take part in a very public declaration of remembrance and of sharing this still-taboo issue amongst kindred spirits - and policy makers who take it very seriously. The event was organised by Bernadette Conlon from START and as well as Andy Burnham speaking succinctly and with genuine commitment, we heard from Louis Appleby who leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England alongside Marvin Cheeseman and JB Barrington who shared their own poetic reflections.

I’ve had a number of conversations about suicide over these last few months and a tiny bit of funding to enable me to spend time with people affected - by either someone they love killing themselves, or with people who have survived a serious suicide attempt. This little old blog isn’t the place to discuss any of this work in depth, but it’s a public acknowledgment and something a little larger (and more complicated) than thanks. So I’m part of an exploration with an as yet, uncertain outcome - but the process is complex and profound. If you want to know more, or be involved with this long-term piece of work and are affected by suicide - get in touch.


Sunday, 9 September 2018

Arts for Health

First of all a big thank you for all of you who came and took part in two events with me this week - on Wednesday the masterclass - The International, National & Local in Arts, Health & Social Change at The Whitworth (some of whom, pictured above ) and on Thursday at Manchester School of Art - The Manchester Declaration. Of course, now I'm left with all that superb material from the declaration session and I'll begin to bring it all together, alongside some thinking from smaller sessions around GM. What has been really special this week, has been meeting new faces from the wider field - people I've not met before with exciting ideas. New blood - sublime! More on the Manchester Declaration on the evolving MIAHSC website very soon.

Of course - huge thanks to the artist, Professor Yutaka Moruguchi for sharing her work and lived experience, which are inextricably linked. I'm pleased to tell those of you who met Yutaka, that she  got safely home to Osaka. Thank you to the Great British Sasakawa Foundation for enabling her collaboration with us. To Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Wendy Gallagher, Daisy Strang, Francine Hayfron and Holly Grange - your work is superb - thank you.

World Suicide Prevention Day -
Vigil of Remembrance

6.30pm –7.30pm
Monday, 10th September
World Suicide Prevention Day
Lowry Plaza (in front of Lowry Theatre)
The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ.

Greater Manchester over the last five years has lost 1,279 family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours to suicide.
The ‘Vigil of Remembrance’ will remember those that we have lost and demonstrate to those that have lost loved ones to suicide that the community is here for them with this mass demonstration of support. It will contribute towards smashing the stigma that is associated with suicide in all its forms, and contributing to a community that enables people to discuss suicide and enable people to disclose when they are experiencing suicidal thoughts and ideas.

More details from START - HERE.

Deadline 29th October 2018
Conference Date: 5 – 7 March 2019
Venue: Manchester Central, UK

The World Healthcare Congress Europe will showcase new approaches to health and social care delivery. In today’s current climate healthcare professionals are facing a multitude of political, social and financial challenges. The conference will explore how the revolution of healthcare delivery will have a significant impact on health. Our audience of 1,000 will consist of representatives from all sectors of healthcare, academia and leading government agencies. The Congress will provide a platform for the discussion of three themes, one of which is Arts for health & social change. I'm honoured to be co-curating this conference theme with Director of Manchester Museum, Esme Ward.

The possibilities of the arts in all their forms impacting on health and social change, is of growing interest to communities and policy makers alike. In the UK the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health & Wellbeing published the groundbreaking report, Creative Health illuminating new possibilities in how we understand and address contemporary health challenges.

This conference theme will focus down on the possibilities of culture, heritage and the arts in the context of issues ranging from how we might address the social determinants of health – to research and practice around the life course, our mental health and how we age well.

In Greater Manchester, a city region that is central to the birth of the arts and health movement, this theme gives delegates the opportunity to experience and interrogate the ways in which we understand the lived experience of communities and the factors that influence public health, address inequalities and influence health outcomes. We propose that participation in culture and the arts has the potential to radically shape the future of the health and social care landscape and give voice to the most marginalised members of our society.

For those of you undertaking research or wanting to share your work, please note that this global event will happen in Manchester for two years consecutively and in March 2020 there will be your second opportunity to apply.

Find out more about the conference HERE.
Submit an abstract HERE.


Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust comprises Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge. This is the post that Damian Hebron held until recently. It's salary is £42,414 to £49,969 p.a. pro rata. More details HERE.

“Painting, writing, singing, dancing, freeing minds and opening hearts, moving, feeling building healing, this is why we truly, love arts.”

A CELEBRATION OF CREATIVITY & MENTAL WELL-BEING IN LEEDS - the Love Arts Festival will be taking place between 4th and 13th October and is one of the UK's most important arts and mental health festivals. All the details are HERE.

Ravi Thornton event
On 24th September there's an interesting event taking place in Waterstone's in Manchester's Arndale Centre. See the poster below for details.