Sunday, 22 March 2015


An extract from A.N
Looking out from the back seat of a car as it enters a carwash tunnel. The windscreen and rear-view mirror are concentric frames within frames in this dark, constricted space. The sound, too, is oppressive: the pummel of water jets, the whir of the conveyor, the pulse of a man’s breathing. White soapsuds across the windscreen cut through the black, accentuating a partial reflection of the driver’s face in the mirror. “When you put these substances in your body… the animal part of your brain thinks it needs these substances to survive,” he says. “That’s what you’re up against … and it’s vicious.”

This is a scene from Melanie Manchot’s new multi-channel video installation, connecting remembered moments from the lives of 12 people in recent recovery from drug and alcohol misuse. Read more about 12 the collaboration between Portraits of Recovery and artist, Melanie Manchot in A.N

Space2Create in Kendal, is holding a new exhibition in its gallery based on themes of Stigma and creative wellbeing. See the flyer below.

BBC Children in Need Small Grants Programme 
Not for profit organisations such as such as registered charities; voluntary organisations; schools; churches; and community interest groups; etc. can apply for grants of up to £10,000 through the BBC Children in Need Small Grants programme. The grants are available for projects that:
  Help children and young people experiencing illness, distress, abuse or neglect
  Any kind of disability
  Behavioural or psychological difficulties
  And / or living in situations of deprivation.
The closing date for applications is the 1st June 2015. Read more at: 

Artists International Development Fund 
Arts Council England has announced that its Artists International Development Fund will re-open for applications on the 23rd March 2015. This is a £750,000 funding stream for artists to develop links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in other countries. Freelance and self-employed artists can apply for small grants of £1,000 to £5,000 to spend time building these links to broaden your horizons and open your work to other perspectives. The programme is open to emerging and mid-career artists working in combined arts, literature, music, theatre, dance, visual arts and crafts and design. You must have received recognition for your work in England and not have extensive international experience. Your application must also include a letter of support from the overseas partner/host. The deadline for applications will be 5pm on the 1st May 2015. Read more at:


Monday, 16 March 2015

Will Self introduces...

Over 2014 I had the pleasure of working with people in recovery from substance misuse in Liverpool, Manchester, Pistoia, Pescara and K├╝tahya. The work we were all involved in was organised by Mark Prest of Portraits of Recovery and explored self-portraiture and cultural approaches to understanding addiction, but more than that, it gave all of us the opportunity to participate in the most compelling contemporary art experiences

As part of this cultural exchange and learning programme, people participating in the project shared insights and passion, frustrations and rage. This in part, is how the idea of a manifesto came about. Building on the Manifesto for Arts and Health, those of us involved in the project, built on the sense of community that the workshops enabled. So we created safe spaces for anyone who wanted to be involved, to explore our individual and shared experiences and aspirations.

The result is the RECOVERIST MANIFESTO which reflects some of the process and the conjoined words of people in different cultures, but with the shared experience of being in recovery from substance missuse. It’s here in English and Italian and very soon will be in Turkish and Lithuanian.

Will Self has written an introduction to the manifesto, which in a pamphlet that is free from logos and individual statements, may seem a little odd. It’s not. As someone who identifies as being in recovery and as an eloquent social commentator, his analysis of the manifesto and reflections on sobriety, are succinct and poetic. He does exactly what each of us involved in this work does - he gives voice and personality to the largely invisible face of addiction - and more importantly - recovery.

All of you that have taken part in this process - whatever your story - whatever your contribution - thank you. Let us tell our shared story with pride. We are Recoverists.

The brilliant NOUS magazine is exploring the territory of  P A N I C  for its latest edition. This is one of the best things out there. Contribute or find out more by clicking on the small panic above!

Funding for Digital Projects with a Social Impact 
The Nominet Trust which provides funding and support to technology with a social benefit, has announced that its Social Tech Seed Investment Programme will re-open for applications on the 17th March 2015. Social Tech Seed is an investment programme that offers early-stage investment of between £15,000 and £50,000 to social entrepreneurs and charitable organisations who are looking to develop new ideas to use digital technology for social benefits. This programme provides funding and support to help entrepreneurs nurture, develop and test their ideas. The Trust is looking for applications that demonstrate the potential of technology to tackle some of the big social issues in sectors including:
    The environment.
The closing date for stage 1 applications will be Wednesday 15th April 2015. Applicants successful at this stage will have to submit a more detailed stage 2 application by the 27th May 2015. Read more at:

Over the next month or so, I’ll be sharing links to some of the people I have been working with who are studying at the Manchester School of Art. This week, here’s a link to the illustrator John Hogan. See more of his work by clicking on the image above. Your diligent blogger may be a little quieter over the next few weeks, as he hunkers down with some all-consuming projects.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

…and pause, just for a moment

Melanie Manchot
Last week George Khut illuminated and inspired those of us who attended his presentation here in the School of Art - thanks George. His work features in the current exhibition at FACT called, Group Therapy: Mental Distress in a Digital Age, curated by the brilliant Vanessa Bartlett. The exhibition contains work by 12 artists including Melanie Manchot whose work 12 is previewed here, but launches in its full provocative beauty, at Peckham Platform in May, touring nationally and at Castlefield Gallery in September. This work, which was commissioned by Mark Prest of Portraits of Recovery, ties into much of the debate around addiction and recovery. I’m thrilled to have been asked to contribute to the book that accompanies the exhibition alongside such luminaries including Peter Kinderman and Victoria Betton. The book is available on-line or directly from FACT. 

For those of you interested in health and digital technologies - I have had advanced notice of a very interesting new magazine, which may be looking for articles soon on video games and health - and the Victoria and Albert Museum are hosting a one day event called Art, Design and New Technology for Health on the 19th June. I'll be chairing part of the day and I can confirm some of the speakers look fantastic! To find out more and book a place, click on the image below.

For those of you with an interest in substance misuse and recovery, I am pleased to say that the Recoverist Manifesto is published next week in English and Italian, with Turkish and Lithuanian versions imminent! More details next week, but here’s a taster!

Exploring the links between the phenomenology of creativity and bipolar disorder
Arts for Health Research Associate, Dr Katherine Taylor has a new paper in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The links between bipolar disorder (BD) and creativity have historically attracted academic and public interest. Previous research highlights common characteristics of people considered to be highly creative, and those diagnosed with BD, including extraversion, impulsivity, divergent thinking and high motivation. In the first phenomenological study focusing on the links between creativity and extreme mood, an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach was used to collect and analyse in-depth interview data from seven people diagnosed with BD in the UK. Read more by clicking on the brilliant procraftinate definition below.

Something rotten in the state of England
I read that the government has awarded an NHS contract to a private firm linked to one of our recently exposed, scandal-hit MP’s, Sir Malcolm Rifkind. But the winning bid will actually cost the NHS more than a bid from local NHS services! Right now, much of the bidding for NHS contracts happens in secret. If NHS England made bidding processes fully transparent, we could hold the government to account. It feels like the NHS is being systematically dismantled and run in the interests of well connected private health firms. Find out how you can be involved by clicking on the greedy pig.

Inspiring Health - Young People's Arts and Health Conference 
Friday, 13 March 2015 from 01:00 to 08:00 (GMT)
Rochdale, United Kingdom
For all the details of this interesting event that's focused on young people, click on the Jake and Dinos Chapman image below for more.

Deutsche Bank 2015 Awards for Creative Enterprise 
Aspiring artists, designers and performers who want to launch themselves as self-employed professionals can receive practical and financial support from the Deustche Bank Awards for Creative Enterprise (DBACE). The Award provides winners with £10,000 start up capital, business training and mentoring to steer them through their first year in business and beyond. Final year arts/creative degree/masters students and graduates (from Summer 2014) at arts colleges/universities around the UK that have registered for this year's programme can apply as individuals or as a group. The deadline for submitting applications is 5pm on 31st March 2015. Read more at:

Pause for a moment…
Amsterdam, Netherlands
A terminally ill woman looks at a self-portrait of Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum. Dutch charity Ambulance Wens granted the dying woman’s last wish for a private viewing of the Rembrandt exhibition Photograph: Roel Foppen/AP

The Radcliffe Trust – Music Grants 
The Radcliffe Trust has announced that the next deadline for applications to its Music masking grants programme is the 31st August 2015. Through its grant making programme, the Radcliffe Trust supports classical music performance and training especially chamber music, composition and music education. Particular interests within music education are music for children and adults with special needs, youth orchestras and projects at secondary and higher levels, including academic research. The Trustees respond to applications and also initiate their own projects. Applicants must be a registered charity or an exempt charity.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

…everything's FINE

Next Tuesday’s networking session here at Manchester School of Art with artist George Khut is between 6:00 and 7:30 and is now booked up. Waiting list is HERE. Venue details will be emailed on Monday to those with reservations.

PARTICIPATE and EVALUATE - GROUP THERAPY: Mental Distress in a Digital Age
We would like to invite you to participate in the evaluation of GROUP THERAPY: Mental Distress in a Digital Age  the forthcoming exhibition at FACT that examines links between technology, society and mental health. The session will employ The Visual Matrix, an innovative approach to evaluation that was created by researchers Lynn Froggett, Alastair Roy and their team at the Psychosocial Research Unit at University of Central Lancashire. The method was developed in response to gaps in the range of processes available to evaluate the experience of interacting with an artwork or exhibition and in particular the emotional and affective aspects of that experience. It is being employed in this context as part of the PhD research of Vanessa Bartlett, who is using it as a tool to evaluate audience response to artwork that deals with mental health. The evaluation session will be followed by an optional discussion with Lynn Froggett, who will explain in detail the thinking behind the process. These activities would suit anyone with an interest in arts and health or innovative forms of evaluation. To find out more go to Vanessa Bartlett’s BLOG, or email her at

What on earth is this? Well for those of you with an interest in Vorticism, you may think it’s an Edward Wadsworth - it’s not. This is an image from Vic McEwan’s work.

The Paddle Steamer Enterprise is the largest functional object at the National Museum of Australia. Launched more than 130 years ago, she is one of oldest working paddle steamers in the world. The Enterprise has worked as a cargo boat, floating store, fishing vessel, houseboat and showboat and now, with Vic McEwan as artist in residence at the National Museum of Australia, it has become part of an installation performance and will be played as a musical instrument. The vessel was launched in 1878 after being built in Echuca from river red gum. These trees, once plentiful along the Murray River, provided a ready source of hardwood for building and powering paddle steamers. The tannin from a handful of eucalyptus leaves thrown into the boiler also prevented the interior walls from corroding. Vic - this boat has stories to tell - we look forward to hearing about the performance and some of those stories when you come to the School of Art in a couple of weeks time. Time and date very soon on this blog - but for now, to whet your appetite - here’s a SNIPPET of Vic playing the boat, and a film below to give you some background.

Artists International Development Fund 
Arts Council England has announced that its Artists International Development Fund will re-open for applications on the 23rd march 2015. This is a £750,000 funding stream for artists to develop links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in other countries. Freelance and self-employed artists can apply for small grants of £1,000 to £5,000 to spend time building these links to broaden your horizons and open your work to other perspectives. The programme is open to emerging and mid-career artists working in combined arts, literature, music, theatre, dance, visual arts and crafts and design. You must have received recognition for your work in England and not have extensive international experience. Your application must also include a letter of support from the overseas partner/host. The deadline for applications will be 5pm on the 1st May 2015. Read more at:

Funding for Artists & Bands 
The PRS for Music Foundation and Arts Council England have announced that the next application deadline for the Momentum Music Fund is the 2nd June 2015. The Momentum Music Fund is a £500,000 fund to develop the careers of talented artists and bands. It is anticipated that grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 will be awarded to between 50 and 75 artists/bands over the next 2 years. Applications can be submitted by the artists themselves or those who are working on their behalf, e.g. a manager, an independent label or publisher. Priority will be given to those that haven't been funded by PRS for Music Foundation in the previous 12 months. Read more at: 


Sunday, 22 February 2015

"…the quiet attention of others."

Coral Mallow
An evening with George Khut
So after all the brilliant feedback from last week’s Chaos & Comfort event, and keeping my promise, I’m pleased to confirm that we'll be hosting three FREE events over the next few months - another 'big event' in June and before that, another visit from Vic McEwan in later March, but before that the Australian artist, academic and interaction-designer, George Khut! 

George is part of the forthcoming exhibition at FACT, Group Therapy - Mental Distress in a Digital Age and a friend of Arts for Health. For the past 12 years he has been working with biofeedback technologies, creating intimate, body-focussed interactive artworks experiences, that re-frame our experiences of embodiment and presence. In addition to presenting his work in fine-arts galleries and museums, he has been developing new audiences for interactive and participatory art with exhibitions and research projects in hospitals, starting with The Heart Library Project at St. Vincent’s Public Hospital in 2009, and more recently with his collaboration with Dr Angie Morrow, Staff Specialist in Brain Injury at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Kids Rehab. George will be sharing his work on Tuesday 3rd March at 6:00 until 7:30pm at Manchester School of Art. As with most of our networking events, if you want to share your own practice or research, we'd welcome input from those of you exploring digital art and new technologies. There are limited places at this event. Find out more and register for a place by clicking HERE. Watch one of George's films about pain relief for children undergoing painful procedures below.

“...the quiet attention of others”
Again I recommend the reflective and poetic blog of Mike White as he shares the day-to-day realities of his palliative care. 

Conference and study visits
Insights and Tools for Managing Arts Projects with Societal Impact
July 7th 2015 in Tallinn
A vital question today is how art and culture can interact with and enrich the society. The first MAPSI (Managing Art projects with Societal Impact) international conference, held in Tallinn, July 7th 2015, aims to bring together researchers, academics, students and educators as well as practitioners involved with artistic and societal activities in order to explore the emerging issues around the managing art project with societal impact topic. We are focusing on contributions where arts and cultural issues are managed to achieve public and societal objectives from various disciplines; all management approaches, cultural policy, social sciences art and economics. As a part of the conference, the study visits to organisations involved with societal impact of art will take place. The program will be also enriched with the optional study visits on July 6th and showcasing of Estonian music. Click on the photograph of Linnahall, the former V.I. Lenin Palace of Sports and Culture, to find out more.

Get Creative
Perhaps as a reward for diligently paying your TV Licence fee, the BBC feel compelled to do something for the larger public good - whatever - here is their current public engagement offer...

Get Creative is a major celebration of the nation's arts, culture and creativity. Led by the BBC and What Next? in collaboration with a huge range of arts, cultural and voluntary organisations, everyone is invited to get involved and share their creative talents. Get Creative will launch on 19 February 2015 with a week of debates and activity across the BBC and around the UK and will last for 12 months. The campaign will culminate in a celebratory weekend over 20 & 21 February 2016. 

Ambition Giving
Grants of up to £2,000
Deadlines: 2 March 2015, 30 April 2015, 31 July 2015, and 30 October 2015.
Ambition, a leading national youth charity, has launched Ambition Giving. As part of the charity’s 90th anniversary celebrations it is offering grants throughout 2015 to groups in the UK to help deliver activities to young people (under the age of 24 years) in their community. The funding will support a wide variety of projects and is open to applications from young people, youth clubs, charities, community groups, resident associations and voluntary organisations. Ambition has at number of overarching outcomes for all of its programmes including, Improved health (both physical and mental).

Grants to Help New, Innovative Visual Arts Projects (UK)
The Elephant Trust has announced that the next deadline for applications is the 13th April 2015. The Trust offers grants to artists and for new, innovative visual arts projects based in the UK. The Trust's aim is to make it possible for artists and those presenting their work to undertake and complete projects when confronted by lack of funds. The Trust supports projects that develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the fine arts. Priority is now being given to artists and small organisations and galleries who should submit well argued, imaginative proposals for making or producing new work or exhibitions. Arts Festivals are not supported. The Trust normally awards grants of up to £2,000, but larger grants may be considered. 

Oliver Sacks talks about his recent terminal prognosis 
"Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure." Read more by clicking on the image below.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

“ must still have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star…”

New research suggests health benefits of cultural activity

Last Thursday the 12th I had the wonderful opportunity to see the last few months work with MA - Art, Design, Health and Wellbeing students come to fruition. The 14 students who come from a variety of disciplines showcased their work at the launch of a new report; The Long-Term Health Benefits of Participating in the Arts, published by Arts for Health and which reveals that engaging with the arts and culture generally has a positive long-term effect on health and wellbeing. I was thrilled too, to welcome just under 200 people to the Manchester School of Art to share their practice and encourage some lively debate. Part of the day was an Open Space session which enabled us to re-visit the Manifesto for Arts and Health and imagine where the field might be in 2020. Hey 20/20 - is this all about having perfect vision?? More of that when I’ve collated the extensive notes from the day. But a huge THANK YOU to everyone who presented, came along and took part. All North West Arts and Health Network events are free and made possible by your inspiration and input.

Now, back to the research undertaken by Dr. Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt which has uncovered evidence, stretching back a number of decades, that shows a significant association between engaging with the arts and longer lives better lived. All this despite being consistently told that there are no long-term studies! Under the auspices of the Cultural Value Project – initiated by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the UK’s main academic funder in the field – Rebecca has compiled an evidence base comprised of fifteen longitudinal studies. These international studies collectively suggest that attending high-quality cultural events has a beneficial impact upon a range of chronic diseases over time. This includes cancer, heart disease, dementia and obesity, with an inevitable knock-on effect upon life expectancy. 

Many possible reasons for this positive association are speculated upon by the researchers brought together in this report – from increased social capital to psycho-neuroimmunological responses – all of which are interrogated in detail. One of the most compelling potential explanations for any positive association observed between arts engagement and health comes from the field of epigenetics, specifically the idea that environmental enrichment (in this case, cultural activity) can cause certain harmful genes to be switched off, enabling health-protective effects to be communicated from one generation to the next.

In an era in which arts organisations are repeatedly urged to account for themselves in economic terms and we have largely lost sight of the individual and social value of culture, it is hoped that these combined findings will be heeded by policy-makers in the arts and health. This work highlights that there is every chance that any positive health effects attributed to arts engagement are the result of a hidden factor, most likely a socio-economic one. As such, this compelling report urgently incites further research into the inequalities that mediate our access to health and the arts.

The report is available free online by clicking on the issuu image above. Thank you to Rebecca for sharing this work at our event and presenting it so compellingly - and eloquently. 

Women Make Music grant scheme
Deadline: 27 April and 28 September 2015
The Performing Right Society’s Women Make Music grant scheme offers financial support of up to £5000 to women musicians. You can create new music in any genre, from classical, jazz and experimental, to urban, electronica and pop. Support is available to:
  Individuals and organisations / groups including solo performers
  solo songwriters or composers
  promoters or event producers
  local authorities and schools

New Building Better Opportunities Fund from Big Lottery (England)
Subject to approval from the European Commission, the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) is planning to put up to £260m of Lottery funds against a similar figure from the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 in order to support communities and people most in need across England. Projects delivering against the ‘Promoting Social Inclusion and Combating Poverty' part of the ESF can receive funding in Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas according to local priorities, which have been set by the LEPs. LEP area partnerships have made provisional decisions about how much of their ESF allocation to devote to this strand of work, meaning that the amount of main funding available will vary widely across different areas. Ahead of the main funding becoming available from 2015, BIG will also offer Lottery development funding in each of the LEP areas it is working with. Read more at: 

Arteffact Manager (Freelance): North Wales
Duration: 60 days  Fee: £12,000  Start date: April 2015  Closing date; 23rd Feb 2015.
Arteffact is the project name for a partnership of museum and archives across north Wales working together to use historic collections and exhibitions to inspire creativity and self-expression to promote better mental health. Arteffact helps people suffering from depression and other forms of negative mental health to begin to feel better about themselves and to start making positive changes in their lives. It does this by engaging professional artists to run creative activities in museums or galleries, providing a supportive way to engage with culture and heritage. The absorbing art activities, the stimulating settings, the social interaction and the connection to the stories and lives of others all help to achieve this positive impact.

Arteffact is also a unique way of opening up museums and galleries for groups of people who may never have thought that such places had anything for them. It is a partnership between museums, galleries, archives and community art services in north Wales that collaborate to deliver positive creative experiences for people with mental health needs. Our courses of art workshops are inspired by the artefacts and records held in the museum and archive collections. Full details & job description 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Less is More...

“So I am now in the curious position of looking towards some life beyond treatment at the same time as doing a coda on my life through palliative care…” Catch up with the as-ever erudite Mike White on his new blog, as he discusses his journey “into a sub-atomic wonderland.” Click on the Incredible Shrinking Man above to link to Mike's absorbing and deeply personal blog.

New Arts Council England Research Grants (England)
The Arts Council England has launched a new Research Grants Programme to help build collective knowledge and deepen understanding of the impact of arts and culture; and to also promote greater collaboration and co-operation between the arts and cultural sector and research partners. In the first round (2015-16) organisations can apply for funding of between £50,000 and £100,000 for projects that last for up to three years. A total of £700,000 is available for 2015-16, with indicative budgets of £900,000 available for 2016-17 and 2017-18. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 12th March 2015. Read more by clicking on the filthy lucre below. 

Comic Relief Care Home Challenge Fund (England)
Comic Relief has announced that its Care Home Challenge Fund is open for applications. The aim of the fund is to improve the conditions for older people and staff in not for profit care homes and hospitals. In particular, the fund wants to support projects in not for profit care homes and the wider voluntary sector to develop and try out innovative ideas. Grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 will be provided for up to 12 months to try out new approaches to creating communities of care and strengthening relationships between all people living and working in the not for profit care home environment. Comic Relief want to provide a range of grants of different sizes and welcome partnership bids. Applicants must be working either directly in or in partnership with a not for profit care home in England and they are particularly interested in applications from care homes that have been rated as good or requiring improvement by the CQC. The closing date for applications is the 28th February 2015. Read more by clicking on Scoopy the Clown!