Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frames of Mind

'Broach schizophrene'Brian Charnley (1949-1991)

Frames of Mind: Creativity in Mental Healthcare Exhibition

Discover historic artworks of international renown from the collections of Bethlem Royal Hospital, the original Bedlam, alongside contemporary artworks created by artists supported by the Bethlem Gallery. Over 30 different artists are represented including Richard Dadd, William Kurelek, Stanley Lench, Jonathan Martin, Marion Patrick, Cynthia Pell, Charles Sims and Louis Wain. The main gallery is dedicated to the display of 50 paintings, drawings, digital images, sculptures and ceramics dating from the early nineteenth century to the present day. All of these remarkable works have been created by people who have experienced mental health problems. Also in this gallery you can see videos of artists working with Bethlem Gallery and listen to oral history interviews with mental health service users and providers. In the smaller gallery you can discover the history of mental healthcare from the foundation of Bethlem Hospital in 1247 to the present day. A timeline illustrates the individual and linked histories of Bethlem Royal Hospital, Warlingham Park Hospital and Cane Hill Hospital. You can also find out more about the art-based care services provided in Croydon today.

FREE exhibition in the Clocktower's Temporary Exhibition Gallery. 10 October 2008 - 31 January 2009 Monday - Saturday, 11am - 5pm

East Croydon is 15 minutes on the train from Victoria and the Clocktower Gallery is a 5 minute walk from there. Check here for more information on how to find the gallery.

The Cultural Ramifications of an Ultrasound

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of Online Ultrasound Technician Schools. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com.

You’d think there wouldn’t be a cultural side to a technology that helps look inside your body, but there is, at least in certain parts of the world. An ultrasound scan is a technique that uses sound waves, or to be more precise, ultrasound which has a high frequency and hence cannot be heard by human ears, to create images of organs in your body. The sound waves bounce off body structures and are then compiled by a computer program into images.

Ultrasound is used for a variety of applications and is the preferred form of medical imaging except when there’s bone or gas-filled organs like the lung and bowel to be scanned. It finds extensive use in pregnancy, to monitor the growth of the fetus at different stages and to determine the sex of the baby. And that’s where the cultural aspect comes into play.

Now most people are ok with either a boy or a girl baby; sure, they may have their preferences, but they’re happy with either one if they’re healthy and normal. But there are some parts of the world where a boy child is considered an asset and a girl a liability – China for one, and India for another. With selective sex abortion being a widespread practice in both countries, the respective governments have banned the revelation of the sex of the fetus following an ultrasound examination. But female fetuses are still aborted, contributing to the widely skewed sex ratios in both countries.

In China, it’s an issue that relates to the large population of the country. With the government strictly enforcing the one-child law, parents want it to be a male so that their family name is carried on. Male children are also likely to earn money for the family and look after their parents in their old age.

In India, in addition to carrying on the family name, males are preferred because they are expected to look after their parents and help in the family business. Also, only males can perform certain rituals like last rites and they’re sure to bring dowry (gifts of cash and kind) when they marry. Females are not wanted because they are seen as a financial burden when they must be married – the parents tend to go broke trying to rustle up enough money to cover the dowry demanded by the groom’s family. Although dowry harassment is illegal in the country and punishable with fines and imprisonment, the practice still continues.

The cultural ramifications of a simple ultrasound exam extend as far as skewing the sex ratio of an entire nation. Although the technology is relatively new, it’s fast replacing female infanticide as the preferred method of selective sex abortion. And even though it’s illegal to reveal the sex of the fetus, some radiologists do so for the money, and the practice of selective abortion continues to plague both nations and a few others others in Asia.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Royal Society of Medicine Exhibition on Ancient Egyptian Medicine

Currently on display in the RSM Library until the end of February. Opening hours: Monday - Thursday 9am - 7pm, Friday 9am - 5.30pm and Saturday 10am - 4.30pm

This major exhibition focuses on ancient Egyptian medicine. It deals with health and disease, how the ancient Egyptians treated and cured it. Find out about Imhotep, the Egyptian god of medicine, and learn about mummification.The displays also include some stunning casts of medical artefacts and scans of other objects from other institutions.

Summer 2009. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.
A prizewinning travelling exhibition from the Royal College of Surgeons in Scotland.

Open source ECG project

Here's an interesting new use of Web 2.0 (which encourages the web's potential for multiuser interactivity to create new knowledge) to benefit developing countries. The project aims to enable doctors all over the world to build their own affordable, safe and clinically useful ECGs. By making both the software and hardware solutions open source, it is hoped that a pooling of collective knowledge will result in a working product.

The brand new website is mainly wiki-based which means participants download, edit and upload pages so that, in theory at least, the latest improvements are always available. In my experience these types of collaborative open-source wikis tend to be a bit clunky and hard to navigate, but this site is very well designed and you needn't be particulary techy to use it.

These projects rely on 'goodwill' and a belief in the collectivism of scientific information over commercialism. It's represents a big shift in the way Western science - traditionally rather secretive to protect priority claims - is configured. The project seems to me to be a good idea and I hope that it succeeds.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rhetorics of Plague: Early / Modern Trajectories of Biohazard

A Symposium
University at Albany, SUNY
February 26-27, 2009

Call for Proposals

The threat of biological catastrophe—including that by AIDS, ebola, avian influenza, and species extinction—may seem the specific and daunting provenance of late 20th- and early 21st –century life, but it has in fact been a crucial part of history since ancient times. It is important to remember, for instance, that starting in the 14th century and extending well into the 18th, the bubonic plague (as the Black Death) ultimately took the lives of at least 35% of the entire population in Europe, as well as nearly that much in central Asia, killing an estimated total of 75 million people. Given these numbers, it could be argued that premodern and early modern cultures had even more at stake in articulating the role of plague—not to mention the related phenomena of cholera, syphilis, small pox, the so-called English Sweating Sickness, or extensive urban infestations, which are only a few of the shockwaves that preceded our own anxiety about spectacular biological disaster. This symposium therefore proposes rethinking the connections among recent models, representations, or biocultures of biological threat and their counterparts in the pre- and early modern eras.

A focus on the “rhetorics” of plague highlights the ways in which biological danger becomes conceptually organized, ethically ordered, or socio-politically oriented by the discourses that represent it. It also underscores the crossing or hybridization of discourses, such as the ways in which early views of medical pandemic, in the absence of a theory of germ contagion, could be linked to models of ecological or environmental dysfunction, or the manner in which disease of the body natural could metaphorize the maladies of the body politic. Furthermore, in addition to accounting for the interrelated scientific, literary, or philosophical conventions invoked by such discourses, it is important to acknowledge that, like the biological volatility they describe, discourses about plague can undergo their own kind of exponential proliferation, producing a potential plague of rhetorics. While such discourses may have predominantly originated in the metropolitan centers of Europe, there is also the need to account for their transformation or mutation when applied in non-Western or colonial contexts, as well as for the emergence of counter-discourses from non-European sources—such as China or the Middle East—that may have challenged European models of pandemic explanation, particularly as they have undergirded imperial ambitions.

The University at Albany, SUNY, calls for proposals that forge connections between 21st-century contexts and pre- and early modern periods (up to ca.1820) as a way to foster fruitful conversations across disciplinary, national, ethnic, geographical, and historical boundaries. Papers may take up recent work on biohazards, for example, to rethink responses to plague in early periods; conversely, papers may consider what early manifestations of and responses to plague tell us about current pandemic episodes, whether real or imagined, including biohazard as political trope. We welcome approaches from the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities and encourage cross-cultural and transhistorical work; papers focusing on biohazard discourses prior to the nineteenth century are particularly desirable. We encourage contributions from graduate students or nonacademics who may be working in areas such as the history of medicine, healthcare, and ecological analysis.

All participants in the symposium will have the opportunity to submit expanded versions of their presentations for consideration as part of a special journal issue planned for publication. More details will soon appear on the symposium website.
More information about the symposium can be found at a link at the Albany Department of English website: http://www.albany.edu/english.

Paper proposals (1-2 pages) should be sent to Professor Helene Scheck, hscheck@albany.com, or Professor Richard Barney, rbarney@albany.edu, by no later than December 10, 2008.

Plenary Speakers:

  • Kathleen Biddick, Professor, Temple University, on plague, sovereignty, and 21st-century political theory
  • Graham Hammill, Associate Professor, University of Buffalo, on the biopolitics of disease during the 17th century
  • Robert Markley, Professor and Romano Professorial Scholar, University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana, on ecological disaster and disease in 18th-century Britain

    Topics to be considered at the symposium include:
  • How recent logics of epidemic, trauma, virology, or retrovirology find application to or analogues in earlier historical patterns or discourses; how recent logics continue to rely on and/or transform older models of plague, contamination, or disease.
  • The aesthetics of infection; the poetics of contagion.
  • The multiplicity of diseases as generator for “plagues of rhetoric”—uncontrolled proliferation of competing definitions, descriptions, or discourses; or, in turn, the disseminating tendencies of scientific discourse as an engine for an exponential explosion of apparent symptoms, biological entities, ecological effects.
  • The investment of medical or ecological models of pandemic thinking in juridical, legal, political, literary, social, educational, or other pre- and early modern domains.
  • The role of pandemic rhetoric in the management of early modern colonial enterprise or imperial conquest; the relevance of similar biological discourses in postcolonial or recently globalized contexts.
  • The function of counter-discourses of pandemic that emerged from non-Western sources—China, the Middle East, the South Pacific, etc.—in response to European scientific, political, or colonial efforts.
  • The insertion of theological, political, or sociological methodologies into scientific efforts to diagnose massive medical or ecological dysfunction.
  • Philosophy and/as pandemic.
  • The animal—e.g., the bird or rodent—as liminal figure of pandemic transportation or translation: as biological “other” and/or as ambiguous representative of anthropomorphized nature.
  • The transformation of authoritative theological or moral paradigms by emerging scientific analyses of pandemic or contagion.
  • The scientific empiricism of spiritual/moral depravity; the spiritualization of scientifically observed biological threat.
  • The literature of pandemic (e.g., Bocaccio’s Decameron, Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year); the literary as pandemic (e.g., romance, the novel, “scribbling women,” Gothicism).
    “Modernity”—pre-, early, or post- —as vital historical threshold or suspect analytical crux for narrating the development of plague rhetorics.
  • The interpenetration of biology and culture—termed “bioculture” in a recent special issue of New Literary History (38.3 [Summer 2007])—as a peculiarly postmodern feature of biological threat, or an emergent pattern in pre- and early modern contexts.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cancer Tales -- review

It sounds like a potentially morbid outing -- watching extracts from a play about cancer. However, the performance from 'Cancer Tales' at the RSM last week provided an interesting and informative insight, not only into various aspects of illness, but also into the power of drama to convey concepts with intimacy and immediacy. On Friday night, we heard Clare's story of being diagnosed with uterine cancer (played by Laura Fitzpatrick, pictured), and Mary's story of coping with a teenage daughter who has leukaemia.

The script is based on transcripts of conversations of the playwright, Nell Dunn, had with patients. Much of the dialogue is delivered to the audience soliloquy style, but there are also scenes played out that show different aspects of communication, both positive and negative. The four actors pitched their performances perfectly in what was quite a difficult environment -- a raked lecture theatre with the house lights up.

After the performance, there was a panel discussion with Julian Walker (the director), Nell Dunn (the playwright), Jed Mercurio (former doctor and author of Bodies and Cardiac Arrest) and Anna Ford (newsreader, who has had several experiences of losing loved ones to cancer). The panel was very well balanced, with everyone having a valuable contribution to make to the discussion and in response to various questions from the audience.

Although primarily aimed at helping health care professionals to communicate better, 'Cancer Tales' has a lot to offer patients and relatives. It ought to have a wider audience, and I think it would make a series of brilliant radio plays.

There is a beautifully produced workbook to accompany the plays called Cancer Tales: Communicating in Cancer Care which integrates the script with research on topics like breaking bad news, pain relief and coping mechanisms.
Thanks Lauren Trisk, for organising a very stimulating evening.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crossing Over Exchanges

Crossing Over Exchanges in Art and Biotechnology is an exciting new exhibition at The Royal Institute of Great Britain (2 Oct - 21 Nov). The contemporary art on show addresses the highly topical subject of genetic manipulation and bioengineering. Bringing together art, design and science, artworks by thirteen artists and designers investigate the metaphors, potentialities and anxieties of this uch debated area. The exhibition is free and open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday. Find out more here and here.

The Wellcome Trust Book Prize

From a Wellcome Trust press release:

What do Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Ian McEwan’s Saturday have in common? All three acclaimed works would have met the criteria for a major new book prize launching today.

The Wellcome Trust Book Prize is open to outstanding works of fiction and non-fiction on the theme of health, illness or medicine. The £25,000 annual award, created by the Wellcome Trust, is the first of its kind to bring together the traditionally diverse fields of medicine and literature.

Comedienne and former psychiatric nurse Jo Brand will act as Chair of the 2009 judging panel which includes BBC science journalist Quentin Cooper, Welsh poet and non-fiction writer Gwyneth Lewis, physician and author Raymond Tallis and Professor of Medicine in the Arts Brian Hurwitz.

Jo Brand says: “Good and bad health are pretty fundamental to all our lives, so it's no surprise these themes crop up fairly often in literature too. The Wellcome Trust Book Prize recognises writers who have incorporated medicine in such a way as to really engage readers with the subject, exploring our understanding of what it means to be healthy or sick. I'm sure there are going to be plenty of wonderful books for me and the other judges to read. I just hope we can reach a final decision without too much damage to our own health."

The prize will be open to books published in the UK and works published in English translation.

A shortlist of six works will be announced at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival in October 2009.

The winner will be announced at a prestigious ceremony in November 2009 at the Wellcome Collection in London – the Wellcome Trust’s renowned cultural venue for Medicine, Life and Art.

Clare Matterson, Director of Medicine, Society and History at the Wellcome Trust, comments: "There's always been a thirst for books that combine excellent writing with accurate and compelling medical stories.

We hope this prize will stimulate even more interest, excitement and debate about medicine and literature. Our award reflects the Wellcome Trust's aim to broaden the appeal of medicine and reach new audiences - from literature lovers to science enthusiasts alike."

To find out more, visit http://www.wellcomebookprize.org

Monday, October 13, 2008

Battle of Ideas Festival

This year’s Battle of Ideas, a two-day festival of social, political and cultural discussion taking place in London, 1 & 2 November 2008. Tickets are on sale now.

There is a Battle for Biomedicine strand and there are other science and medicine-related debates:

Battle for Biomedicine
Whose data is it anyway?
Boozy Britain
Hypochondriac Nation

Related sessions
Abortion: the hard arguments
Are we what we eat?
CSI Mania
Can GM crops feed the world?
Health promotion: improving children’s lives or demonising parents?
Are drugs ruining sport?
Is our behaviour determined by our evolution?
Trust me – I’m a professional

According to Claire Fox, whom you may recognise as a regular member of the panel on R4's 'The Moral Maze': 'The Battle of Ideas is a space where ideas can be argued for and fought over without constraint. Free speech allowed! The Battle of Ideas is in its fourth year and is now a major fixture in London’s intellectual calendar. This year over 1500 expected attendees will attend 70 sessions with 300 speakers, as well as a number of festival attractions and exhibitions.' The Battle of Ideas was described by Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum, as ‘a rare opportunity to debate first hand with those involved in the great issues of our time’.

As well as the Battle for Biomedicine, this year’s strands examine cutting-edge debates around Prosperity (emerging economies), The Family and America.

Other highlights include:
Immigration – the more the scarier? / Stealing Picasso / From Fatwa to Jihad / Eco-imperialism? / Cricket – more than a game? / What is a city of literature? / CSI Mania / Credit crunch demystified / Scared of the Kids / Malthus’ return…

The festival has sold out in advance for three years running, so you may want to get tickets as soon as possible. The event is held at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU and is organised by the Institute of Ideas in conjunction with SAB Miller, BT, The Times/Times Online, and the ESRC, alongside many other partners and sponsors.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Performing Medicine Season

What a treat for those interested in Medical Humanities! Performing Medicine is a wonderful series of events, including debates, art performances, workshops and a symposium on the uses of arts in medical training. Here is the full programme, or visit their official website.


With Faith McLellan, Brian Hurwitz, Elaine Showalter, Thomas Csordas
30 October 7-9pm Free
Wellcome Collection, 83 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
More information
Book Online Tel:
020 7611 2222

Health and Human Rights With Richard Ashcroft, Paul Heritage, Vivienne Nathanson, Nick Ridout
5 November 7-9pm Free
Dana Centre, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD
More information

The Medical Gaze With Bobby Baker and Kira O'Reilly
2 December 7-9pm £10 (£8 conc)
Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
More information

The Invention of the Body With Sarah Simblet
4 December 7-9pm Free
Wellcome Collection, 83 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
More information
Book Online Tel: 020 7611 2222

Embodiment With Antonio Damasio and guest artists
11 December 7-9pm £10 (£8 concessions)
Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
More information


Ether Frolics Sound and Fury with Artists from the Shunt Collective
3 November 8pm Free
John Ellis Lecture Theatre, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel Road, London E1 1BB
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555
What Tammy needs to know about getting old and having sex Lois Weaver
17 November 8pm Free
John Ellis Lecture Theatre, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel Road, London E1 1BB
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555

Must Peggy Shaw and the Clod Ensemble
27, 29 & 30 November 7-9pm
Wellcome Collection, 83 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE
More information
Ball Brian Lobel
9 December 8pm Free
John Ellis Lecture Theatre, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel Road, London E1 1B
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555


The Expressive Body With John Wright and Suzy Willson
8 November 10am-5pm Free
Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555

Difference With Split Britches and Dr. Alison Mears
19 November 10am-5pm Free
Wellcome Collection,
83 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555

Ways of Seeing With Liz Ellis
20 November 2-4pm Free
Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555

Making Art in Healthcare Settings With Deborah Padfield, Helen Marshall and Rosetta Life
22 November 10am-5pm Free
Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555

Anatomical Art With Sarah Simblet
5th December 10am-5pm Free
Wellcome Collection,
83 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE
More information Book Online Tel: 020 7749 0555

The Uses of Arts in Medical Training
21 November 10am-6pm £150 per delegate
Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry,
Turner Street, London E1 2AD
More information Contact us Tel: 020 7749 0555

The Recovery Room
Every Monday from 6 October - 8 December 1-2pm
Room 3.04, Garrod Building (Old Medical College Building)
More information No booking required

How Do I Look?
From September 2008 Free
More information Contact us for an appointment

Thursday, September 25, 2008

'Cancer Tales'

Posted on behalf of Lauren Trisk:

Just wanted to let you know about an evening of theatre and debate I am organising at the Royal Society of Medicine (1 Wimpole Street, W1G 0AE) on Friday 10th October (flyer attached). 'Cancer Tales', two short plays about women and their journey through cancer will be staged followed by a panel discussion/Q and A session and a wine reception.

The plays were written by Nell Dunn and a snippet from a review in the BMJ reads as follows: 'Five personal histories of pain, hopelessness, hope, resignation and love are the ingredients for Cancer Tales. There five real stories take us to to real problems. The monologues and dialogues are brilliantly written, transporting the audience into the minds and the lives of the characters.

The set is minimal, the play mesmerising' Both Nell Dunn and Trevor Walker, the play's director, will take part in a panel discussion on emotion and communication in a clinical setting after the staging of the plays. Professor Chris Fowler will be chairing the panel and the TV and news presenter Anna Ford and Jed Mercurio, a doctor turned author and screenwriter of the accliamed television series 'Bodies' will also sit on the panel.

Registration is from 6:30pm and the event starts at 7pm, followed by a wine reception at 8:40pm. Tickets cost £10 (£5 concessions) and can be booked online at https://icex.imperial.ac.uk/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.rsm.ac.uk/students/stg101.php It would be great to see you there!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Word of Mouth special on medical communication

I thoroughly recommend an excellent edition of Radio 4's 'Word of Mouth' devoted to medical communication. It includes a lively discussion on the pros and cons of 'teaching' communication skills. Shockingly, most medical students emerge from medical school communicating less well than when they started, communication having become ritualised at the expense of sincerity.

The programme also includes a discussion on how pain is talked about. Is a 'menu' of pain words helpful or is it overly constraining? One patient, Elizabeth McClung, explained how she finds the medical repetoire of pain words very limited (stabbing, throbbing, burning, nagging, radiating) and unable to cope with patients' metaphors. There are no easy answers, but the programme is a thoughtful look at it all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nobel Textiles at the ICA

14 September 2008 - 21 September 2008

Five Nobel-winning scientists have been paired with five textile designers as part of a two-year project between Central Saint Martins College and the Medical Research Council, and the result is Nobel Textiles: a brilliant week of exhibitions and events at the ICA and in St James's Park.

Five greenhouses in St James's Park will contain self-folding fabrics, urban food production, garden furniture and more, with further work in the digital studio and bar.

Philippa Brock has collaborated with Sir Aaron Klug (Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1982), responding with a collection of Jacquard weaves that explore the methods of transforming 2-dimensional weaving approaches into 3-dimensional models.

Carole Collet has collaborated with John Sulston (Nobel Prize for Medicine, 2002 with Sydney Brenner and Robert Horwitz), creating a collection of garden furniture based on the principles of programmed degradation.

Rachel Kelly has been working with Tim Hunt (Nobel Prize for Medicine, 2001), and has designed a collection of transparent wallpapers and paper lanterns responding to his discovery of cycling proteins which appear and disappear.

Shelley Fox has collaborated with Peter Mansfield (Nobel Prize for Medicine, 2003), and has created a fashion collection based on the MRI mapping of the body fat of 6 volunteers.

Rachel Wingfield has collaborated with John E. Walker (Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1997), to create architectural scale textiles that explore urban food production, in response to John’s elucidation of the tiny motor that cycles energy in our cells.

Check out the details here for a series of associated events.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Transplant is a large-scale photographic sound installation that explores the experiences of transplant patients and the extraordinary issues raised by this invasive, last-option medical procedure. Showing this month at the Nunnery Gallery from Friday 4th September, it creates an immersive environment, weaving subtly revealing portraits and striking photographs of the hospital with intensely personal narratives, often recorded at the bedside, and sounds derived from the patients’ surroundings.

Photographer Tim Wainwright and sound artist John Wynne were artists-in-residence together for one year at Harefield Hospital, one of the world’s leading centres for heart and lung transplants. Working closely together, they photographed and recorded patients, the devices they’re attached to or have implanted in them, and the hospital itself. In this ambitious new work, Wainwright and Wynne investigate the boundaries between documentation and abstraction and search for new relationships between sound and image.

“Through all these differences and similarities of sound and vision, seeing and hearing, looking and listening, a rapprochement emerges in the collaboration. The insistent stillness of a photograph hovers in and out of the temporal movement of spoken language, but both add a powerful sense of human presence and individuality to each other,” said David Toop.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication of a book edited by Victoria Hume, manager of rb&h Arts, an independent charity within Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust which made this project possible. Also entitled Transplant, the book contains perspectives on the artists’ work and on the wider issues raised by the project from a range of contributors including writer David Toop, critic Charles Darwent, medical researcher/writer Lesley Sharp, anthropologist Tom Rice, psychologist Claire Hallas and patient Kate Dalziel. The book also contains an exclusive interview with Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, an interview with Tim and John by Angus Carlyle and a DVD by the artists.
The show runs until 28th September and is open Thursday - Sunday 1pm until 6pm. The Nunnery is at 183 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ. Nearest tube is Bow Road on the Dirstict Line.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cutting-edge TV

The BBC is showing an admirable commitment to medical history. Last year, there was a 30-part series, The Making of Modern Medicine, on Radio 4, doing for medicine what This Sceptred Isle did for the history of Britain. Last night, a new series started on BBC4: ‘Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery’. First up was a look at brain surgery.

The programme, presented by the engaging Michael Mosley, didn’t attempt to be exhaustive. It featured a few personal stories, mercifully sparing us from the ‘reconstructed by actors’ scenes that blight so many documentaries these days. I’m not usually squeamish, but Mosley demonstrating a transorbital lobotomy (basically hammering an icepick through the eye socket and rummaging about in the brain) was a ‘look away now’ moment. The well-meaning proselytiser of this hit-and-miss technique, Walter Freeman, travelled America in a camper van, lobotomising as he went. Even his son, who was interviewed, thought it ghastly.

Mosley tracked down one of Freeman’s victims, Howard, who at only 12 had been handed over for surgery by his evil stepmother. Howard gamely agreed to have an MRI scan – apparently the first to be performed on anyone with a transorbital lobotomy. ‘I feel so privileged to be here,’ gushed Mosley, momentarily conflating the act of looking at a map with the taking of the trip. There were two ominous lacunae in the parts of his brain associated with impulse control. Howard looked bemused at being told by Mosely what a fantastic individual he was. It’s like being told you’ve been improved by having a hole in the head.

Noevertheless, the minor irritation of Mosely’s sycophancy aside, this is riveting TV. It’s a risky business being a documentary presenter these days. You’re expected, Blue Peter style, to proffer yourself up as an experimental subject. Mosely had his brain electricity interfered with to demonstrate brain geography. It will be interesting to see if he survives the six-week series undamaged by modern medicine.

Meanwhile, Lord Winston takes to the screen again tonight in Superdoctors on BBC1 at 9 pm. This three-parter looks at frontier medicine – using new technology to supposedly enhance medical interventions. From his interview on R4 this morning, it doesn’t sound as if he’s been convinced.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art and the brain

On R4's Woman's Hour today there was an inteview with Susan Aldworth, an artist who has worked with neuroscientist Dr Fiona Lebeau. The results is a series of images inspired by Aldworth's own scans after she inhaled too much white spirit in her studio and suffered a minor bleed on the brain. The work is varied, and draws on science in interesting ways, but Aldworth's main preoccupation is trying to explore the material basis of personality. In an innovative take on sci-art as process as well as product, she has experimented with etching techniques and developed a method in which the chemical processes are analogous to those in the brain that might be responsible for personality.

The exhbition, Scribing the Soul, is at the Transition Gallery, Unit 25a, Regent Studios, 8 Andrews Road, London E8 and is on until 17 August 2008.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Portraits of macular degeneration

Artist Adam Hahn is exhibiting work resulting from his year-long research of how the vision is affected of people suffering from the common eye disease, macular degeneration. He worked with opthalmologist Professor Pete Coffey and used data from the Moorfields Eye Hospital. But mostly he talked to his sitters. The project is important in that Hahn found that medical textbooks often misrepresent the vision loss that patients experience, describing it as a black hole rather then the graduated blurring effect that Hahn has managed to capture. His method was to use photographs initially, digitally manipulating them and showing them to the sitters (who often still have good peripheral vision) to verify that it accurately represents the way they see. He then paints the portraits on canvas. Hahn and Coffey were interviewed on Radio 4's Front Row on Thursday 12 June, and the programme is available on Listen Again for a week.

The paintings are on show until 17 July 2008 at the Macalls Gallery, Paddock Wood, Kent.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Patterns crystallise in new exhibition at Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Collection has a super little exhibition on how crystallography has influenced art and design. Built around the work of the 'Festival Pattern Group', the exhibition features design products for the 1951 Festival of Britain that were inspired by the kaleidoscope-like diffraction patterns of X-ray crystallography.

My visit fortuitously coincided with a very interesting talk by Bonnie Ann Wallace, professor of Molecular Biophysics at Birkbeck, who explained why crystallography lends itself so well to artistic interpretation. Professor Wallace had brought along some props from her lab which helped to demonstrate trends in crystallography -- how it has moved from drawing and 3D modelling to computer imaging.

The objects on display range from wallpaper inspired by the crystalline structure of insulin to carpet designs and crockery. Intriguing is a beautiful evening gown worn by the wife of crystallography pioneer, Sir Lawrence Bragg. It is embroidered with the hexagonal patterns of Beryl minerals.

'From Atoms to Patterns' runs at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road, London, until 10 August 2008. If you can't make it in person, the exhibition website is packed with information.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stages of Dying

I recently came across the following poem by Dr Tim Metcalf (Poet and Part-Time GP from Australia) and thought I should share it with you guys. It is taken from 'Verbal Medicine: 21 Contemporary Clinician-Poets of Australia and New Zealand'; Ginninderra Press Canberra; Metcalf T (ed.) (2006) which earned him an 'ACT Writing and Publishing Award (Poetry)' in 2007:

STAGES OF DYING (after Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)
Tim Metcalf


In anatomy class
we cut textbook lines
into the dull clay of our body.
We shook dismembered hands,
and bragged of cricket with arms and balls
for a joke.
We washed the formalin from our hands
for the next two days.


A pregnant girl collapsed.
The scalpel cut quick and deep.
Her grey belly peeled apart.
The monitors ticked:
a mechanical requiem.
White gloves pulled out the baby
cold and dead like the streets
I wandered half that night.


As an intern
I was anxious, and obedient.
To cure at all costs
was the boss’ creed.
I had no time for the old woman
we made betray her faith.
Soon after the transfusion
she died of cancer.


Some drunken bastard
hit this woman with his car.
Her young breasts quivered
each time we thumped her chest.
Over half an hour
her face, burned alive,
set cold, branding for life
the mind of her child.


Was it happy, his final memory?
This poor bloke, purple-faced
and next in line for death?
I was naive, yesterday,
regarding his broken heart.
Today it wouldn’t go anymore.
Tonight I was drunk.
There were tears, briefly.


I went to see an elder on his beach up north.
He didn’t say much.
There was this sky-blue dreaming;
the ocean its lucent mirror,
flawless like an egg.
I heard he died around sunset.
That night a warm breeze blew
the soothing tune of the sea

Posted with the kind permission of Dr Tim Metcalf. You can read more of Dr Metcalf's work at http://www.softblow.com/timmetcalf.html

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Social networking meets health care

New Scientist has picked up on the popularity of a networking site called patientslikeme. This is more than an information-sharing site, it encourages patients to record their symptoms and responses to treatment regimes on a regular basis. There is a star-based incentive programme for patients to keep their information up to date. The site makes money, not from advertising revenue, but from aggregating, anonymising and selling on the data to 'life science companies for treatments' (is that a euphemism for pharmaceutical companies?).

For the site to work, it means that patients have to forgo their privacy. The site encourages 'an openness philosophy'. Of course, you can still use a 'handle' instead of your real name, but many members upload photographs and make an extraordinary amount of information available. A bot like Facebook's live streaming, members with mood disorders can record 'instant mood', as well as a detailed breakdown of symptoms which are all plotted graphically. Check out Zephyr_Marie's profile as an example of how much information is available.

With rumours that DIPEx (a UK based website of interviews with patients) is going to become subscription-only, patientslikeme is potentially groundbreaking. It challenges a longstanding assumption that people are less likely to be 'honest' on the web. The site currently has 11850 members and covers ALS/Motor Neuron Disease, Anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), Parkinson's disease, and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Although the numerical data is publicly available, but you have to be a member to access the patients' stories (on the forums). By foregrounding the data aspects, it tells only one, very medicalised, version of the patient experience. It's an interesting experiment though, and worth watching to see if it does herald a seachange in the attitude to patient confidentiality and medical data.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Art and Medicine event

The Royal Society of Medicine is hosting a talk on Art and Medicine directed at Students and Trainees this coming Friday 9th of May. It looks like a really interesting programme.

Entry is 5 pounds for non-members and includes 3 short talks, tea and coffee, a wine reception and art exhibition.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Invitation to 'Artbeats'

Everyone is invited to the opening of 'Artbeats', this year's Medical Humanities art exhibition. As part of the Medical Humanities specialist option at Imperial College London, students are encouraged to create an artwork. It can be in any medium, and on any topic related to medicine. This year, the exhibition will include fine art, photography, sculpture, film and even a few 'installations'.

The opening reception takes place on 6 May 2008 at 7.30 pm. Refreshments will be provided.

The exhibition is open to the public, free of charge, and runs until 22 May, in the Blyth Gallery, Level 5, Sherfield Building, Imperial College London (South Kensington campus).

The exhibition is curated by Mindy Lee. The publicity artwork this year is provided by Neil Shah, whose work is entitled 'Good Grief'.
For more information, e-mail Giskin Day.

Cover art for Academic Medicine

The presigious journal Academic Medicine is looking for works of art to put on their covers. What a great opportunity for those working in the field. This is the deal:

Cover Art
These original works of art should be inspired by, but not necessarily representative of, a health care experience from any perspective-caregiver, student, or patient (for example, learning how to be a physician or scientist, caring for patients, exploring research questions, making a new discovery, being a research participant, teaching, or being cared for in a teaching hospital). The journal welcomes photography, sculpture, painting, textile work, and other visual media. Images may be cropped or resized to fit into the allotted cover space. Acceptance is contingent on the artist's signing an AAMC Artist Consent Form.

Artists will have the option of submitting a related Teaching and Learning Moment (TLM) as a narrative companion to the artwork, to explain the connection between the work and the "academic medicine experience". The related narrative should adhere to TLM submission guidelines Based on the individual strength of the artwork and the supporting TLM, we may occasionally choose to publish one without the other.

High-resolution TIFF files with a minimum of 300 dpi resolution are required at the time of submission. Images are at least 4 ¼" x 4 ¼" (with the ideal size being 4 ¼" x 4 ½" ) and are vertical or square, not horizontal. Images must be grayscale or CMYK. Submissions do not require an abstract.

More information on the journal's website: www.academicmedicine.org.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spiritual journey through old age to death

Life Before Death was a very moving exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. It was a collection of black and white images capturing people just before and just after death. Journalist Beate Lakotta and photographer Walter Schels took images of 24 terminally ill patients and interviewed them whilst taking the first image trying to extract their thoughts about their inevitable death. The pictures were crisp photographs on a large scale with a black backdrop. Every blemish, scar and wrinkle was shown to us up close. This gave the viewer an unusual level of intimacy, usually only reserved for those close to the dying.

The first images seemed to encapsulate the subject’s views on death and reflected the worries and fears that they were facing. In contrast, the photographs taken after death seemed to exhibit the ways in which they had learnt to come to terms with their tragedy. For example, one lady when interviewed embodied an overwhelming resentment towards God and started to question his existence. Her after death portrait was the only one of the 24 to be taken inside a coffin, with a white, velvet background giving an almost holy feel to the image. It gave the impression she had accepted her fate and given herself over to a spiritual world.

Some of the more harrowing photographs were of terminally ill children. We found these slightly disturbing and considered the implications of showing these images of people who may have not yet understood the magnitude of their disease.

Untold: An Exploration of Identity in Old Age was a reflection of the Arts & Minds Project at the SW1 Gallery undertaken to illustrate the value of art as a supportive therapy for the elderly. On entering you were confronted by three etchings conveying the mental experience of a patient with dementia. Artistically we thought they were fantastic, but it was hard to relate them to the disease. Moving on, Deborah Padfield’s collection of photgraphs of the elderly depicted them sewn to other people or objects. We thought this demonstrated that they were tied to what they loved and found it warming that they had something to hold onto.

The next part of the exhibition embodied the contribution of the elderly subjects. You were able to sit down in an installation of a typical room in a care home and listen to music made by Fraser Trainer and Peter Whyman from the instruction of the subjects. These inspirational pieces showed an incredible freedom for the residents to express themselves in ways they would not normally be able to. A video accompanied this showing how the residents used hand signals to instruct the musicians what to play, therefore creating “improvised” music.

Finally, we ended on a collection of iconic images of London traced and painted from photographs all of which was done by residents. Some of the paintings had a child-like ethos, which could reflect the way that society views the elderly in the same way they view children; in constant need of care and attention; patronising and demeaning.

By coincidence, on the day we visited the exhibition the residents of one of the centers involved in the project had come in to view the fruits of their labour. A sense of pride and completion graced their faces representing a renewed sense of worth that this project had given to them.

Both of these exhibitions were very touching and allowed us to reflect more about the plights of the elderly and terminally ill.

Soumen & Rupert

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Medicine and Narration in the Eighteenth Century

There is an interesting programme of talks in Oxford on Friday 18 April 2008 at Maison Fran├žaise d’Oxford, 2-10 Norham Road, Oxford, OX2 6SE, starting at 9.45 am. Enquiries to maison@herald.ox.ac.uk.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Doctor-author reading

There will be a joint reading by renowned doctor-authors on Wednesday 21 May 2008, 7.30 pm, at Swedenborg Hall, The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH. For further information or to reserve places, please e-mail gmb@hammersmithpress.co.uk. The £5 entrance fee includes a complementary glass of wine.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The English Surgeon

The English Surgeon
DFG Screening at the ICA
Thursday, 20th March, 4pm

DFG is proud to present The English Surgeon, Geoffrey Smith's remarkable and moving documentary, shown to great acclaim at the Times bfi London Film Festival and Sheffield Doc/Fest.When brain surgeon Henry Marsh first visited a Ukraine hospital in 1992, he found the medical conditions absolutely appalling. Since then he has worked with his Ukrainian protege Igor Petrovich to help create a viable clinic using discarded NHS equipment, and to bring hope to people where there was none. In Geoffrey Smith's moving, beautifully shot documentary, we follow Henry on his latest trip, to yet another corridor filled with patients for whom he is their last chance. Marion is among them, determined to do something about the enormous brain tumour threatening his life, even if it means undergoing an operation he must stay awake throughout. As Henry tackles increasingly risky procedures, he is haunted by the memory of an operation which went catastrophically wrong. Featuring exclusive access to the KGB hospital in Kiev and original music composed and performed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.Dir. Geoffrey Smith, UK 2007, 94 minsSurgeon Henry Marsh will join the director Geoffrey Smith for a very special Q&A after the screening.

For more details see: www.dfgdocs.com/Events/1302.aspx
Read the interview with Director Geoffrey Smith by Kerry McLeod here

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wellcome trust

The Wellcome trust was set up on the death of Sir Henry Wellcome, an eccentric, self made pharmaceutical entrepreneur. Throughout his life his passion for medicine and archeology manifested in a diverse collection of objects from the mundane to obscure. The latter being epitomized by the angry metallic teeth of the “anti-masturbation” devices sitting proudly in unison with the array of steel clad chastity belts.

However, I found a deeper love downstairs from the collection in the “sleeping and dreaming” exhibition. What is sleep? What are dreams? Why do we need sleep? Why do we dream? Do we need to dream? Considering one third of our lives are spent in this state science has really struggled to answer the above questions and hence many modern day ideas are born from the realms of the arts. This dichotomy is reflected in the exhibition as the romance of the arts conjures up interest while science serves to give context.

The exhibition was light by way of facts and those that were represented my Bsc primed eyes met with distain in the absence of evidence. So I left with a feeling of unsatisfied fascination and a frustrated inquisitiveness.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

LSE SU Arts Week 2008!

Invitation to Arts Week 2008 Launch!
The LSE Arts Forum is happy to invite you to a lunch reception to spark off Arts Week 2008.
In celebration of the Arts at LSE, join us and enjoy free food and drink, a creative crowd and LSE artistic talent!
Time: Monday 3 March, 12.00
Location: Parish Hall
Please find the Arts Week What's on Guide attached, listing all arts-related activities/talks/performances across campus during the week.
For more information, please contact: su.artsforum@lse.ac.uk
Hope to see you there!
LSE Arts Forum
(Arts Week is supported by the LSE Arts Advisory Group and the LSE Students'Union)

The most important things are the exhibition really - its on every day between 10 and 4. The launch is going to be the best part as it will showcase a scene from the play that my sister is producing, Dr Faustus, but will possibly be very overcrowded due to the incidence of free food. There are also other events which might interest, such as plush monster making on Tuesday afternoon, a knitting workshop and numerous book clubs, life drawing events, workshops, etc. Hope to see you there!

The nearest tube to the LSE is Holborn Station on the central line. If you need any more info on how to get there you can email rashidt@lse.ac.uk

Monday, February 25, 2008

Derek Jarman

An exhibition of the work of Derek Jarman, including his famous film Blue, is taking place at the Serpentine Gallery. Blue was the last colour Jarman could could register before he lost his sight, and ultimately his life, to the disease. Much of the work addresses issues surrounding his sexuality and how he was impacted by AIDS. Curated by Isaac Julien, it runs until 13th April. And since the Serpentine is just up the road from Imperial you should have plenty of opportunity to visit before the show ends its run. You can find out more here.

Appignanesi in conversation

Next Thursday, 6th March, Lisa Appignanesi will be talking to psychoanalyst Margot Waddell about her new book Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present. The talk will take place at 8.30pm at The Institute of Psychoanalysis. Click here for more information and to book.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The medical burden

Just a short poem inspired by my time at the gym, and how it reminds me of the burden that medicine has on the lives which are devoted to it.

The medical burden

I have been here before.
Seen these walls,walked this floor.
But rather than be greeted by friendly faces
I see the anguished looks of grown men,
Writhing in pain as if condemned.
My reflection calls me over showing what I seek.
Holding my future in my hands I don't leave it to the fates,
Standing in front of the bending bar stacked with familiar plates.
Each one ingrained with expectation,
Though I have bared its burden they stare back mockingly,
As today there are more plates, more doubts,
More questions asked by them, by myself,
With fear of failure adding to their immense weight.
Do I concede, defeated by the sheer thought of its gravity,
Breaking me from outside in, inside out,
Physically, emotionally;
Or do pick up the gauntlet and use my will,
My power, every fiber of my strength,
To raise the the burden up with the heavens.
With my sweat on the walls and footprints on the floor,
I have been here before,
And I will endure; I will endure.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What is art?

Yesterday's discussion really had me thinking about what people perceive as art. The Tate purchased something I personally wouldn't consider art, however, they're the Tate so I guess they have more authority.

Take a look at this. The museum spent in excess of 20 000 pounds on Merda d'artista, tin cans filled with the artist's excrement.

Here, in an article titled Excremental Value, they go on to say how it's seventy times worth its weight in gold! As irony would have it, it was found out that it WASN'T the artist's excrement, but just plaster.

So really... What is art? ;)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day viral

Miracles of Life

J G Ballard's memoir Miracles of Life is exemplary of what a memoir should be. It is an inspirational account of the life of one of Britain's most important writers and takes us, as the subtitile says, from Shanghai to Shepperton. Ballard was brough up in Shanghai as a child and his description of the culture and environment there are vivid to say the least. We can, I think, see the seeds of the surrealist take root in his Shanghai childhood, later to bloom in his adult life back in England. Although not strictly speaking a medical memoir, Ballard was a medical student at Cambridge for a time, a period in his life which he relays with the same vigour displayed in all his writing: from the gore of anatomy lessons (for us non-medics at least) to skeletons under the bed (literally) we again get a sense of where his literary imagination was born. It is an extremely sensitive and intelligent book and, while it reveals something more of the man behind Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition, we also get more of the man behind Empire of the Sun and The Kindness of Women. A hugely intelligent writer, Ballard tells of his experience in a WWII internment camp in Langhua, the physical and psychological effects of that internment, the sudden and premature death of his wife and his incredible life thereafter. There is a nice story of his partner Claire who, on experiencing the benefits of a particular kidney operation, writes to thank the surgeon who invented the procedure. Since the publicity surrounding the launch of the book, it is no secret that Ballard is suffering from advanced prostate cancer and he includes a touching tribute to his oncologist Professor Jonathan Waxman at Hammersmith Hospital, describing him as having "that rare ability to see the ongoing course of medical treatment from the point of view of the patient." I thoroughly commend this book.

Shoot the Damn Dog

Shoot the Damn Dog is a depression memoir by London journalist and writer Sally Brampton. Brampton writes a surprisingly uplifting account of her experience of chronic depression including two suicide attempts, alcoholism and treatment-resistant depression. That is not to say there is any gloss on this account. On the contrary, Brampton does not spare us any details of the depths she sank to. But there is always hope which reflects her strength of character, even at the darkest moments. Throught the book she emphasizes depression as an illness, not a character flaw, something which people often seem to forget. She suggests, from her own experience, changes in life-style and behaviour which may help those who are depressed although she is, quite rightly, careful to point out that it is different for everyone, one of the reasons that depression is so difficult to treat in the first place. For her, diet, specific vitamin supplements, exercise, yoga and meditation were and continue to be an important part of her recovery. This is a book that everyone affected by depression should read. Whether you are suffering from depression yourself, have a friend or relative who is, or are involved in treating depressed patients, it provides some important insights into the condition. You can listen again to an interview with Brampton on Radio 4 here.

LAHF Latest Program

Benefits for Artists
LAHF members are invited to an artist talk to examine the impact on artists' practice of residencies in hospitals.

Malcolm Glover, a photographer who has undertaken numerous hospital residencies has just completed a residency with the support of the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust and Paintings in Hospitals who selected Glover as the recipient of the third Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award.

An exhibition of Malcolm Glover's work is being staged at the Menier Gallery, Menier Chocolate Factory, London from the 4th to the 15th March.

The talk will take place at 5.30pm on Wednesday 5th March and will feature Malcolm Glover and Stuart Davie, Director of Paintings in Hospitals. The event is designed to look at the ways in which artists can work in healthcare settings and to explore the opportunities for artists to develop work in this way.

The event will include an opportunity to see the exhibition and to network informally with artists and arts in health practitioners.

For more information or to register interest, e: Damian@lahf.org.uk

Art Into Life
LAHF members are invited to a free taster session of the outreach programme run by Tate Modern. This event will include an introduction to Tate Modern's outreach programme led by Liz Ellis, Curator of the Community Programme followed by introductions to the gallery's collection led by artist educators.

Tate Modern runs this regular outreach programme for community groups attracting a wide range of adult groups from non-formal education, social and health settings. This event will offer LAHF members a sense of how the programme works and an opportunity to debate the ways in which programmes like this can integrate with other arts in health activity in London.

The event will take place on Wednesday 12th March from 10.30am - 1pm. Places are strictly limited and must be booked in advance.

For more details contact Damian Hebron: Damian@lahf.org.uk

Art Therapy And The Arts
LAHF is hosting a half day seminar in conjunction with the British Association of Art Therapists on 8th April to look at the ways in which arts therapists and artists working in healthcare settings can share knowledge and benefit from each other's experiences.

The event will include presentations from artists with experience of working in hospitals and other settings as well as arts therapists and will also include panel discussions and informal opportunities to network with colleagues and to exchange ideas. Confirmed speakers include Norma Daykin.

For more information, please contact Damian@lahf.org.uk

US Conference
‘Embracing Our Past, Shaping Our Future: 21st Century Innovations' is the title of the annual conference of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, which will take place from April 16th - 19th in Philadelphia.

For more information, visit: www.thesah.org

Memorial Fundraiser
I'd like to teach the world to sing... is a one-off concert to celebrate the memory of singing coach Ian Adam, a world-famous singing coach who sadly died at Royal Brompton in 2007 after a short illness.

His last professional role was to train Helena Bonham-Carter and Johnny Depp for their roles in the Sweeney Todd, and over 50 stars of stage and screen will be performing at the concert, including Jeremy Irons, Helena Bonham Carter, Elaine Paige and Sir Roger Moore.

It will take place on Sunday February 24th at Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket. To book tickets please call 0844 412 4657, making sure you quote ‘RBH Supporter' or go to this seetickets site

For more info, e: arts@rbht.nhs.uk

NHS Funding Leads
The NHS has published a page of funding leads offering examples of organisations which offer funding to a variety of health and social enterprises. The website also offers advice on the legal issues involved in establishing social enterprises.

Please visit: www.networks.nhs.uk/185.php

The Other Side of Waiting
The Other Side of Waiting is a collection of interwoven artworks generated with and for people using the new Mother and Baby Unit at the Homerton University Hospital.

The initiative is being led by taking place, a group of women artists and architects who have collaborated since 2000 on a range of projects exploring questions of gender and spatial practice.
The Other Side of Waiting proposes 6 artworks connected by the critical and practical issues that affect the spaces and processes of giving birth. Each intervention will use different forms of engagement and participation with hospital users and staff to develop the work.

Evaluation Required
Theatre company, Lightning Ensemble, is bringing an innovative performance project, entitled The Chess Players to St George's Hospital in South London, for two weeks in April and is seeking someone to carry out an evaluation of the project.

Developing a pilot project from last November, the performance engages patients with a combination of performance and chess playing, and develops a pilot project, produced in November at St George's last year.

This is a modestly budgeted project with a £350 fee for an evaluation; so expectations are for a relatively succinct report. For more information, e: sarah.weatherall@virgin.net

Dance as a Resource
Creative Capital is mounting an event to provide information on how dancers' skills can be used as a resource for the health and education sectors.

The event will be run twice taking place in Tower Hamlets on Monday 25th February at Toynbee Hall, at 3.30pm and again as part of the Redbridge Dance Festival on Thursday 6th March at The Gloucester Room, Ilford Central Library, at 6.30pm.

Speakers include: Carolyn Roy, Chisenhale Dance Space, Naz Karim, Akademi South Asian Dance and Kiki Gale, East London Dance.

The event is free, to book or for more information, e: info@creative-capital.org.uk

Dance Workshops
Chisenhale Dance Space is hosting a series of workshops based on the current residency of American dance artist, Doran George.

The residency, which is looking at themes of dance, ritual and bereavement, will culminate with a symposium at Queen Mary, University of London on Saturday March 14th and Sunday March 15th.

Bringing together experts in bereavement care, dance, and other relevant professions the symposium is designed to consider how performance can be a catalyst and vessel for emotional recovery. Speakers include Patricia Repar founder and director of Arts-in-Medicine at University of New Mexico (US), Mary O'Donnell Fulkerson and Robert Pacitti.

The workshops will take place on weekends leading up to the symposium.

For more information, visit: www.chisenhaledancespace.co.uk/interface.htm

Loans Sought
The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust is trying to make contact with artists willing to loan work for a new Treatment Centre which is currently under construction at the Middlesex hospital site.

For more information, e: tony.valentine@useful.co.uk

City of One
Myrtle Theatre Company's City of One, a play with music performed by a cast of professional actors, musicians and a group of young people in the care of Bristol City Council, will be performed at the Abbey Community Centre, Great Smith Street, London SW1 on Thursday 21st February at 4pm and 6.30pm.

Tickets are free, for more information, e: info@myrtletheatrecompany.co.uk

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Medical Humanities podcasts

The journal Literature & Medicine held a conference at the end of last year called 'Caring for the Caregiver'. Several of the sessions have been made available as mp3 downloads. Speakers include Rita Charon and the physician-poet Rafael Campo. This is a wonderful resource!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Truth About OCD

ICA London 18 February 2008

OCD and the idea of being "obsessive-compulsive" touches a raw cultural nerve. It has worked its way into our culture, and is often used to describe anyone who is either meticulous or overly absorbed. But where does the disorder of OCD come from, what triggers it, and why is it so widespread in contemporary society? What is really like to suffer from OCD, and why are many of us so keen to identify with it?

Speakers: Paul Salkovskis, professor of clinical psychology and applied science, King's College London; Diana Wilson, representative of the national charity OCD-UK. Joanne Limburg, poet, writer, OCD sufferer and author of Paraphernalia; Lara Menzies, researcher, Brain Mapping Unit, University of Cambridge.

£10 / £9 Concessions / £8 ICA Members.

Again, sadly this is already sold out but please call the Box Office to enquire about returns on 020 7930 3647. It's good to see such talks being scheduled, even if I wasn't quick enough to get tickets this time.

Is it always good to talk?

ICA London 14 February 2008

Many modern therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, offer quick-fix results and predictable outcomes, but beyond the promise of short and localised treatments, what are they really offering - a serious analysis of human suffering or conditioning techniques designed to stifle what society refuses to recognise? To what extent can the mind be the object of external intervention? The history of mind-doctoring suggests that we preserve a certain scepticism here.

Darian Leader, psychoanalyst and author of The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression is in conversation with Lisa Appignanesi, writer, broadcaster and author of Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800.

£10 / £9 Concessions / £8 ICA Members.

Sadly this is already sold out but please call the ICA Box Office on 020 7930 3647 to enquire about returns.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

sBMJ publications

Congratulations to two former Medical Humanities students from Imperial who have recently had articles published in the studentBMJ. Wais Ahmed published 'Doctors and the Brain Drain' on the controversial and topical issue: doctors from developing countries who then work in the western healthcare. Laura Cherrington has written a provocative piece on the image of the surgeon. Both articles are distinguished by their integration of personal experience with appropriate research. Well done!

Street dance version of 'Cuckoo's Nest'

There was an interesting programme on Radio 4 this week on the film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. It's part of a series presented by Paul Gambaccini called 'And the Academy Award Goes To...', looking at the history of the Oscars. You can listen again here until 14 Feb. 'Cuckoo's Nest' swept the board in 1976.

Admirers of the book and film might be interested in a street-dance adaptation called 'Insane in the Brain' by Bounce. It's on at the Peacock Theatre, Holborn, London, running from 27 February till 16 March. According to the publicity: 'In the confines of a psychiatric hospital, breakdance becomes a way of expressing freedom and rebelling against the iron rule of Nurse Ratched – who happens to be a ballet fan… The show features a fantastic soundtrack including hits from stars like Missy Elliot, Dizzee Rascal, Gotan Project, David Holmes and Cypress Hill. Inventive set design and choreography are mixed with film and multimedia sequences to produce a fast-paced show that is at times funny, at times moving, and always packed to the rafters with high-octane dance moves.'
The theatre warns that the show 'contains adult themes'. Do you think they get to keep their underwear on under those hospital gowns?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Loving 'Love' at the Bristol City Museum

I spent the day in Bristol yesterday meeting up with our new external examiner for the Imperial Medical Humanities course, Dr Trevor Thompson. The University of Bristol offers an intercalated BA in Medical Humanities which runs for a whole year and presents a glorious mix of literature, poetry, philosophy and history. (If anyone is interested, apply by the end of the month.)

I tagged along to a meeting of the vocational studies group, informally linked to course. We visited the Bristol's City Museum and Art Gallery. The Museum currently has a touring exhibition called 'Love' on loan from the National Gallery. Louise Ormesher from the Museum gave a wonderful tour of a selection of artworks from 'Love' and the Museum's permanent collection which includes works from some of Britain's best known artists. Louise gave a real insight into the symbolism in paintings and encouraged us to think about the social, political and personal contexts of the artworks.

In relation to the post below on Mark Quinn's exhibition, 'Love' features his piece, 'The Kiss', a sculpture of Mat Fraser (who has thalidomide-induced phocomelia) and Catherine Long (an amputee). The work starts off as a cast of the subject's bodies but it is then sculpted in Cararra marble by Italian craftsmen. Quinn's choice of classical poses and pristine, unpolished marble raises question about notions of classical beauty.
I unreservedly recommend a visit to the Bristol City Museum. It also features works by Frank Dicksee (particularly his 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci') and one of my favourite artists, David Inshaw.