Sunday, 13 October 2013

Set Fire to THE SUN

Ohhh, so much to say this week, but lets start with the popularist toilet tissue that offers radiant heat and robust forensic analysis of current affairs. This week, perfectly timed to enhance the importance of World Mental Health Day, it chose to report on the underfunded state of our mental health care system, which all too frequently misses out against more sensational health priorities. I’m often mindful, that our mental health - our resilience and wellbeing - are important factors in all health conditions. So the SUN are quite right to point out that the care system is on the brink of collapse and that the poorest people - the most unequal people - are the ones at the most risk of ill-health. Hmmm, but is that exactly what they were hinting at? Did they emphasise the horrible isolation caused by mental distress, or all those other associated health problems? Or perhaps they sensitively explored the potentially self-destructive nature of mental ill-health? Lest we forget, the same rag ran the front cover “Bonkers Bruno Locked Up’ in 2003 and its then, (ever-so-slightly-politically-connected) editor Rebekah Wade, was forced by public pressure to change the headline to, "Sad Bruno in Mental Health Home", going on to describe the boxer as a "hero".

This week’s front cover ran the legend, ‘1,200 KILLED BY MENTAL PATIENTS’. If this week, you’ve been facing up to your anxiety, your stress or depression - if you’ve been experiencing the extremes of bi-polar or the isolation of psychosis - this will have really lifted your spirits. I’d like to question, just who are the semi-human monsters that it portrays - the increasingly marginalised people that it stigmatises, or those who write such pernicious crap.

Would I ban the SUN? NO, I like having a free press. I like it that it’s virtually impossible to buy in Liverpool, where solidarity over its wretched ‘reportage’ has seen it removed from shelves (insidious, mainstream, lowest-common-denominator-consumer-porn-light). I just wouldn’t buy it and better still if I found a copy in the street, (I did - it was slightly soiled) I wouldn’t have it in my earth closet, I’d set fire to it.

New pathways into Arts and Health Training 2014
I’ve had a few people contacting me by phone and leaving messages about the arts and health training that I offer. Thanks so much for your interest and the key point about training in Manchester, is that it won’t be happening again until the spring 2014. I’ll advertise it on the Arts for Health website and this blog. So I can’t give any more details than this just yet - but thank you for showing interest.

Working in Lithuania this last week has been an inspiration. Working with Socialiniai meno projektai and meeting artists and designers wanting to develop their practice in arts/health, feels a bit of an honour. Aciu. I spent a good deal of time at the Vilnius University Oncology Institute as a guest of the British Council, and developing arts/health training in such a real and emotionally charged environment was a rich experience for myself, as well as the participants. Thanks for looking after me in Vilnius and for taking me to the Kaunas Biennale and introducing me to the wonderful Fluxus Ministerija. Inspiring and beautiful. The training continues until mid-December, when I’ll feed back on the process and outcomes.

Artist Grayson Perry will be giving the Reith Lectures this year on BBC Radio 4 starting on 15th. They will be available as podcasts too. Click on the quality gauge for more details.

All That is Solid Melts into Air
Not seen it yet, but this Jeremy Deller curated show in Manchester is going to be juicy! Click on the image for more details.

The Central Laser Facility produces some of the world’s most powerful light beams, providing scientists with an unparallelled range of state-of-the-art laser technology. The Beam Time residency offers a unique opportunity for an artist to engage with scientists and their research using state-of-the-art lasers including – Vulcan, Gemini, Artemis, Ultra and Octopus - which can recreate the extreme conditions inside stars and planets; reveal intricate detail of molecular interactions on a microscopic scale; act as 'tweezers' holding the individual micro-droplets that make up clouds; and take snapshots of chemical reactions in action and electricity travelling through material.

On offer: £3000 artist fee, £350 travel expenses
Deadline for applications: 10am Monday 25 November 2013
Eligibility: Any visual artist living and working in England who has been practising outside of undergraduate education for a minimum of 5 Years is eligible to apply. Applicants may not be enrolled on a course of full-time or part-time study during the residency period.

Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Grants Programme 
Organisations and schools in the UK that wish to develop links with Japan and Japanese schools are able to apply for funding through the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The Foundation makes small grants to support activities that support the study of the Japanese language and culture, School, Education and Youth exchanges. In the past the Foundation has made grants towards visits the between the UK and Japan between by teachers and young people and the teaching and development of Japanese language and cultural studies in schools.
The next closing date for applications is the 15th December 2013. Read more at:


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