Friday, 15 November 2013

...from Australasia

What a blur this week has been! The conference has probably been the most interesting and engaging of all those I’ve recently attended. Whilst its been great to spend quality time with colleagues and friends from the UK, it has been fantastic to catch up with old friends from other parts of the world and make new ones too! (Be lovely see more friends from non-English speaking countries though) Thank you to anyone who’s gone out of their way to say hello to me. Its great to meet kindred spirits in this arts and health field.

There are so may people I’ve met whose practice I’d like to share, but of course that’s not practical, so, to shine a spotlight on just one of the many new things I’ve seen and heard, here’s a link to just one organisations work that’s of exceptional vision, quality and impact.

Vic McEwan runs an organisation called Cad Factory and I had the pleasure of chairing a session he spoke at about his year-long exploration of a community in recovery, actively seeking the stories from the town of Yenda in the wake of the 2012 floods. Click on the shop front to find out more.

A few conference-connected highlights include having a breakfast with the philanthropist (and advertising magnate!) Harold Mitchell. Organised by Currency House Press, the breakfast saw Mitchell emphasising the need for creative leaders to have imagination and courage. Thanks to N.S. for arranging this. Being invited to the residency of the Governor of New South Wales for a drinks reception was something I felt a little uncertain about. Those of you who know me, will know why! But what a woman Professor Marie Bashir is! With a background in medicine, public health and psychiatry, she was quite a sensational host, and completely in tune with the potential of culture and the arts in the 21st Century. The final day of the conference has seen a contingent meet the Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, John Ajaka and an exploration of research, policy and practice in creative ageing. Brilliant work Margret Meagher.

As for my presentation at the conference this week - I had the chance to share some of my thinking around the constant, (and in my opinion, deluded) assertion, that to understand the impact of the arts and cultural activity of health and wellbeing, we need to measure our work using the Randomised Controlled Trial, as exemplified by big pharma. You can make your own opinions (although, I am bored rigid with the myopic mantra of dull-eyed pseudo-scientific sycophants) so enjoy - (or not) - this quickly recorded version. Some people loathed the music, some loved it, so good look with it - but remember, it’s there to drill into you, not placate and soothe you. Click on the CONTROL image, above.

I had to reduce many elements of my presentation, to keep within the allotted 30 minutes slot and another time, perhaps we can share some of those things I edited including: the soft-drinks industries influence on government policy; the ‘gatekeepers’ of our hyper-inflated and gated-community-of-interest ‘journals’; (overpriced-exclusive and just a tad-self-congratulatory) - oh, and Barry Manilow drug endorsements + dogs on sedatives! 
So much to say and play with - so little time.

And on the over-priced books front, I’m thrilled to have a new book-chapter out. It’s called Towards Sentience and is text developed from my thoughts on how art and design might be relevant to the ways in which we live and die. Its in a book called: The Handbook of Interior Architecture and Design, by Bloomsbury and only costs around £90. Cheap eh? I don't want to dig my own grave ; ) but I think the publishing industry is outrageous! I’m sure most libraries can’t afford books like this, let alone the hallowed journals.

Whilst I’m away, I can announce that the first of the Dementia and Imagination posts is open for applications. I’m very excited by this, but have to advise that this is a research post working with me and is pivotal to the three-year programme, and we are looking for post-doctoral candidates. Very soon, we’ll be recruiting an admin role and research-artists to work across the UK in our various research sites. Keep an eye out for the details. To find out more about the Research Associate post, click on the researcher below.

Whilst we are developing the Dementia and Imagination research, we’d love to share this simple survey with people who are involved in arts/dementia work. This will help inform our theoretical framework. thanks in anticipation, and feel free to circulate. 

The Glasgow Centre for Population Health is currently recruiting a Public Health Research Specialist to work on a project called Representing Communities: developing the creative power of people to improve health and wellbeing. The project involves understanding how community representations produced through creative arts practices (e.g. storytelling, performance, visual art) can be used as forms of evidence to inform health-related policy and service development. You will be involved in both the facilitation of these creative outputs (in partnership with Impact Arts) and leading on parallel research which will describe and report on the process. This post will be based within the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. Click on the mob below to find out more.

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