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Playing & reality: Winnicott, creativity & play

Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre, King's Building, Strand Campus
Lecture, Other
18/10/2016 (18:30-20:00)

Part of the Arts and Humanities Festival 2016. Presented by The Centre for Humanities & Health and Centre for Modern Literature & Culture.

This event is open to all and free to attend, but booking is required via eventbrite.

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Playing & reality: Winnicott, creativity & play


Forty-five years ago the paediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott published Playing and Reality, in which he suggested that play supplied the foundation of all human creativity. Rather more controversially, he thought play could not be reduced to fantasy, conscious or unconscious. The opposite of play is not reality but compliance and conformity, from which a ‘false self’ may result. It’s a notion that continues to be extremely enticing today not just for psychoanalysts but for artists and writers.

Here, the Centre for the Humanities & Health and the Centre for Modern Literature & Culture join forces to bring together a novelist, visual artist, and psychoanalyst to discuss Winnicott’s ideas. Deborah Levy, Olivier Castel, and Brett Kahr will be in conversation with Kate Shovron, discussing why Winnicott is so popular today? How important is play in today’s culture? What is the relationship between play and creativity? Visitors arriving at the event will have the opportunity to experience Winnicottian play for themselves, attempting his squiggle game on iPads.

Olivier Castel is a visual artist based in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Mumbai Art Room (Mumbai) and Artium (Spain). Recent group exhibitions include L’Exposition d’un Film (Chatou, France), and The fifth artist, Wysing Arts Centre (Cambridge). His forthcoming solo exhibition at Kunstraum (London) opens in November 2016.

Brett Kahr is Senior Fellow at Tavistock Relationships at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, and Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London. He is the author or editor of eight books, including D.W. Winnicott: A Biographical Portrait, which won the Gradiva Prize for Biography. Recently, he published Tea with Winnicott.

Deborah Levy’s books include Hot Milk, the Man Booker shortlisted Swimming Home, Beautiful Mutants, Swallowing Geography, The Unloved, Billy and Girl. Her 2012 short story collection, Black Vodka, was short listed for The Frank O’Connor Award. She wrote two acclaimed dramatisations of Freud’s case studies, ‘Dora’ and ‘The Wolfman’, for BBC Radio 4.

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