Sunday, 9 August 2015


2020+ Art, Society & Public Health
If you are interested in sharing your work at the next big, free networking event at Manchester School of Art on the 7th October between 10:00am and 4:00pm, please email me an expression of interest in no more than 200 words outlining who you are, what you do and what you'd like to input. The day is all about sharing, exploring and developing new relationships and collaborations, whilst acknowledging we all work in a time of ‘austerity’. 

I'm looking for short and sharp input at 15 minutes maximum. Please only email this to and please note that there won't be any replies to these emails until the first week of September, and I may not be able to accommodate you all! Applications for general attendance will be open the first week of September. The event now has confirmed international input from colleagues in Finland, Japan and Lithuania and will have approximately 200 delegates.

The UK Arts and Health Research/Development Archive 
This week the work of my friend and colleague Dr Langley Brown has come to fruition. Langley has been working tirelessly with colleagues across the UK who have gathered archives over this last 30 years. The extensive Arts for Health archive, alongside other key collections across the UK, have been gathered at Manchester Metropolitan University and collectively document a representative range of approaches across the arts & health movement since the mid 70s. These archives have now been donated to the Wellcome Library, where they will be catalogued over the next two years before being opened to the public. To mark the acquisition of these collections, the Wellcome Library is to host a Witness Seminar in March 2016, and this will be immediately followed by the inaugural Mike White Memorial Lecture - Mike's archive is one of the collections currently being transferred to the Wellcome. More details about the lecture and the archive will be released as the work and planning progress. My personal thanks to Langley for this important piece of work.

Dying this Week... 
This week, as well as the passing of Cilla and the continued mourning of a celebrity lion in Africa, there were a few other deaths. 

On the 5th August a fishing boat carrying around 700 people capsized of the Libyan coast where around 200 people drowned. The International Organisation for Migration warned that the number of migrants attempting to make the crossing is much higher than in the same period last year, its director general, William Lacy Swing, comments: “It is unacceptable that in the 21st Century people fleeing from conflict, persecutions, misery and land degradation must endure such terrible experiences […] and then die on Europe’s doorstep.” 

On the 6th August we remembered Hiroshima. That’s 80,000 people killed instantly and over course of the year up to 166,000 

8th August was Dying to Know Day 
Friends and colleagues in Australia are ploughing a rich way forward in their conversations about how we die in the 21st century, through their annual Dying to Know Day, co-ordinated by the brilliant Kerrie Noonan and her team at the Groundswell Project. Here’s the lovely Death Talker, Molly Carlile on prime time TV.

Dicing with Dr Death“From his involvement in the deaths of four real-life patients under Australia’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, to his fondness for the do-it-yourself approach, Dr Philip Nitschke takes his audience on a rip-roaring ride through his 20 years working with life’s one certainty: death.” Police have intervened to stop a potentially lethal gas being used during a controversial Edinburgh Fringe event over August, by the right-to-die campaigner known as Dr Death. Dr Philip Nitschke was told hours before he was due on stage that he could not use gas cylinders needed for a key part of the show. He had brought his updated euthanasia machine, Destiny, to Scotland, and planned to invite audience members to join him on stage and experience being “gassed” to show how “a peaceful and reliable means of death” is carried out. He was to have used cylinders containing 100 per cent nitrogen, but that was blocked.

And finally - attempting to escape whatever atrocities they’ve experienced in their own countries, people variously labelled refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are dying regularly trying to get into the UK. Whilst it's a shame it messes up our August get-aways, since February this year 12 people have been killed, 11 of them over June/July. Humans - everyone of them - children, lovers, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. 

Panic on the Streets of Whitehall...
As the great and the good of Whitehall slug it out in the Labour Leadership campaign, I’m hearing all sorts of gibberish coming from the media and those fighting for power. It’s all largely concerned with taking pot-shots at one-time outsider, Jeremy Corbyn. Now he’s vying for the top slot and gaining the support of young voters, it’s all about how inappropriate he is for the job! What happened to vision and passion in politics and what on earth has happened to Labour? Still basking in the warm glow of its faith healer, Blair, who still has to account publicly for his part in what’s largely agreed, was an illegal war. At least Corbyn wants Blair to stand trial for his "war crimes". Apparently Andy Burnham says he’s all for nationalising the railways, scrapping free schools and academies and scrapping tuition fees! Well whoopee - nothing like a tokenistic nod to the left. Let’s not forget your old government introduced tuition fees Andy. Let’s not forget too, that after putting your moniker on the Prospectus for Arts and Health, you promptly stuck your head in the sand and avoided any publicity about it.

Between Menopause and Old Age, Alternative Beauty – A Workshop 
Monday 23 to Saturday 28 November, 2015, London 
Deadline for applications Wednesday 30 September. 
What is it? The acclaimed Mexican performance artist Rocio Boliver will run a unique workshop for ten older women artists. “My workshop aims to demystify "the horror of old age", inventing my own deranged aesthetic and moral solutions for the "problem of age." I hope my mockery of this absurd contemporary reality exposes a broken society based on looks and how old age became synonymous with insult.” This practical workshop will focus on the possibilities of collaborative approaches and the ways in which working together might open up new possibilities for representations and understandings of some of the issues facing women artists, and particularly older women artists, including the ageing body, disempowerment, and invisibility.

…and to round off this light-hearted summer blog, here's some gentle relief from Philip Larkin.


There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

Where has the tree gone, that locked
Earth to the sky? What is under my hands,
That I cannot feel?

What loads my hands down?


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