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Utopia 2016

Are You Feeling Better?

Are You Feeling Better? –  An exploration of the theme of utopia through ideals of health and wellness

The work of the medical professions to undertake radical interventions in the natural processes of illness and disease is, by its very nature, utopian, but amongst the demands of training to become a GP, a nurse, a neuroscientist, a midwife or a psychiatrist, the utopian ideals at the heart of the Hippocratic Oath may be assumed or else forgotten.

In spring 2016, as part of the Utopias season taking place across Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute, the Cultural Institute at King’s brought together contemporary artists and King’s health students to stage‘Are You Feeling Better?’ – a range of creative projects which explored the theme of utopia through ideals of health and wellness.

Each project provided a different lens through which to ask how far the world of health is a utopian enterprise in itself and to what extent healthy individuals - and healthy societies - can be realised through its visionary disciplines.

  • Who makes an ideal nurse?
  • What kind of asylum would you feel safe to go mad in?
  • What kinds of risk-taking makes for better healthcare?
  • How do you create the perfect smile?

Questions such as these, presented by artists from different angles, enabled students in Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing & Midwifery, and Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience, to creatively explore their own areas of expertise, complementing and enhancing their studies. 

This project culminated in a book produced by artist Joanna Brinton, and a film by film artist Stephen Rudder which was  displayed during the Utopian lab, part of the Paths to Utopias exhibition in the Inigo Rooms Somerset House.



Be-PerfectHow can imperfect people embody utopian values?

Working confidentially with student nurses, artist Anthony Schrag facilitated a series of live, performances and events which examined this question through a series of social events, playful workshops, performances and protests. With Anthony Schrag (artist) & Tim Owen Jones (adult nursing student student) 

Becky-Shaw-LampWhat kinds of risk-taking makes for better healthcare?

Artist Becky Shaw hosted fortnight forums and use creative responses including role-play, film and object handling drawn from the archive of Florence Nightingale (amongst others) to explore the differences and oppositions between type of knowledge generated by research and practice-led learning.  With Becky Shaw (artist) & Mavis Machirori (phd student, Health Research)





Vaccum-Cleaner-Loony-BinWhat kind of Asylum would it feel safe enough to go mad in?

The artist known as 'the Vaccum Cleaner' ran a participatory workshopfor student mental health nurses and student psychiatrists which explored the role of staff in the creation of any Utopian asylum. With The Vacuum Cleaner (artist) & Alison Sweeney (mental health nursing student)

HopeHow do you create the perfect smile?

Working in collaboration with dental student Anisha Gupta, artist Joanna Brinton facilitated a series of discussions around issues relating to cosmetic dentistry, aesthetic medicine and self-image. With Joanna Brinton (artist) & Anisha Gupta (student dentist)



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