Arts in Mind showcase
Posted on 05/02/2018
King’s College London launched the Arts in mind innovation scheme in 2017 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) joining the university. The programme was designed to bring together academics from the IoPPN with artists and arts organisations to enhance understanding of mental health, the mind and the brain.
On Wednesday 24 January, artists and researchers from eight Arts in mind collaborations shared their initial findings to an audience of academics and industry professionals. The afternoon, which took place in Somerset House East Wing, featured panel discussions, which ran alongside an exhibition of project outputs including films, prints, sound installations and creative journals.
DIE or RUN: Policy, anxiety and stigma
Dr Colette Hirsch, Department of Psychology and theatre practitioners Hannah Ringham and Glen Neath collaborated on the examination of patterns of general worry and social anxiety related to current and inherited political policy. The collaborators produced a provocative monologue performance, which juxtaposed 'political speak' and an experience of actual anxiety. It raised questions on the stigma surrounding mental health and conveyed the experience of anxiety to the audience. A short film of the performance inter-cut with accompanying slides and loud, aggressive music was played as part of the team’s presentation, with audience members confirming its effectiveness in conveying the experience of anxiety.
Losing one’s sense of self
Dr Gerald Finnerty, Department of Basic & Clinical Neuroscience, artists Isla Millar and Iris Musel (Limbic Productions) and PhD student Sophie Bennett are investigating how frontal lobe brain damage affects an individual’s personal identity and social interactions, which together create a sense of self. The project will use art as a research tool to help participants to communicate their experience of frontal lobe damage. The team hope this activity will inform the future direction of Gerald and Sophie’s medical research. During the study, the artists will guide participants through a series of creative interviews and group activity sessions that will allow them to express their personal perspectives through the use of object and image making. The team presented their initial findings at the event and discussed the significance of the ethics approval procedure in their area of work. The project team’s exhibition display recreated a researcher’s desk, with numerous posters, books, diagrams and papers illustrating the multifaceted lines of enquiry the project explores.
Artist and midwife Laura Godfrey-Isaacs teamed up with Professor Carmine Pariante, Department of Psychological Medicine to explore the tradition of women’s diary and journal keeping as an expressive, creative and therapeutic practice for pregnant women with a history of mild to moderate mental health problems. Laura was accompanied on the panel by two project participants who spoke eloquently about their experience of being involved in the project and the ways in which it supported them on their journey into parenthood and beyond. Two short films were shown as part of the panel discussion. They provided a taster of six project workshops, led by a number of artists who explored creative forms of journaling with the pregnant women involved in the project. A selection of the artworks and journals that emerged from these workshops were displayed as part of the exhibition.
The project team led by Dr Sally Marlow, Department of Addictions and pianist Christina McMaster explored the use of music and psychedelic images as mood enhancers through interactive ‘lying down’ concerts. Two events took place: the first at King's Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre and the second at King’s College Chapel on the Strand Campus. Both concerts were carefully curated to combine visual projections created by King’s Artist Teresa Albor with music from composers such as Terry Riley, Gyorgy Ligeti and others performed by Christina. Audience members were asked to complete a series of brief questionnaires before, during and after the performance to measure the effect on their wellbeing. A short film of one of the concerts was played as part of the team’s panel discussion, which explored what they set out to do in the project and their plans for the future.
Creative arts hub Zimbabwe
Dr Melanie Abas, Department of Health Service & Population Research was joined by project psychologist Tarisai Bere to discuss how group creative arts activities and sharing of experience, blended with psychoeducation, can help improve the psychological wellbeing and medication adherence of young people living with HIV. Working in collaboration with musician Tariro NeGitare, the project used a combination of music, movement, drama and meditation to encourage self-expression and connectedness amongst its participants. This programme ran in Zimbabwe for six weeks and provided Tariro a first-time opportunity of running her sessions for young people aged 17-25 infected with HIV. A short film highlighting the importance of the project and its positive influence on the young people who participated was shown as part of the team’s panel discussion.
Artist Mel Brimfield and Professor Sukhwinder Shergill, Department of Psychosis Studies collaborated to explore the auditory hallucinations associated with schizophrenia and psychosis through the creation of binaural monologue artworks, sculptures and drawings. The research was firmly rooted in an extensive period of first hand consultation with people living with psychosis, and with the carers, occupational therapists, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, psychiatrists, research scientists and advocates who work to understand and support them. As a key part of this activity, Mel attended Prof Shergill’s weekly ward rounds at the National Psychosis Unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital to observe the progress of patients currently in treatment. During the panel discussion, Mel discussed how her encounters with the patients have inspired the project’s artworks, including a moving sound installation of one patient reciting the middle eight of ‘Are you lonesome tonight’, exhibited as part of the showcase.
The cerebral city
A collaboration between Dr Eugenio Abela, Department of Basic & Clinical Neuroscience, epilepsy researcher Amber Collingwood, artist Matthew Maxwell and photographer Jason McGlade, the project explored affinities between the structure of the brain and the landscape of the city by transposing data from 3D scans of each collaborator’s fornix (the part of the brain that deals with memory and navigation and is also the location of the seizures that cause epilepsy), onto a map of London. The paths created were walked and documented in different ways by the participants, one of whom has epilepsy. The results provided a unique insight into both the psychogeographic experience of a shared urban habitat and an illustration of the technologies used in epilepsy research. A short film explored the premise of the project and documented each participant’s journey as they walked their cerebral city. The panel discussed their shared experience and the creative outputs it inspired. This formed an accompanying installation of photography, abstract artwork and a sound piece.
Rebecca Hatchett, Director of S.I.D.E Projects, worked with Professor Ricardo Araya, Department of Health Service & Population, audio producer Lucia Scazzocchio and scriptwriter Ella Saltmarshe, to co-create an immersive audio piece featuring people with lived experience of depression. The objective of the audio art work is to communicate the experience of mental health conditions in a new way, aiming to change attitudes and behaviours, build empathy and reduce stigma. The team created a 10-minute audio piece to help people understand what someone who suffers from a mental health condition, such as depression, goes through. At the showcase, the binaural audio piece was played to the audience through wireless headsets. Rebecca and Lucia were joined on the panel by Nick Barber, one of the project’s co-creators with lived experience of depression, who emphasised the importance of developing art works as a means of educating people about depression and other mental health conditions.
Plans are underway to include all eight projects in a larger Arts in Mind festival at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience’s Denmark Hill campus, 4-10 June 2018.