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Peter Shenai in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre

Peter Shenai is collaborating with Professor Francesca Happé, of the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (SGDP), working on ''Taking a line for a walk'': exploring the space between intelligence, creativity, drawing, and diversity.


This collaboration will include a series of structured, yet playful online workshops with diverse participants, incorporating novel drawing tasks, questioning the history of “testing” intelligence/talent, and turning these exercises on their head. The aim is to create a playful space in which participants explore unfamiliar ways of making/seeing, and reflect critically and constructively on notions of testing “talents” and “abilities”. Embracing the practical necessity of virtual meetings, the collaboration will explore how neurotypical and neurodivergent people connect and see themselves and others in the new medium of Zoom/Teams.  

Because we control when and how much we show to others in online meetings, there are new opportunities to play with self-presentation, imagination and representation. The project will be co-created with autistic adults, working towards holding workshops online with autistic people after the R&D phase. Expected outputs from the R&D phase would be the creation of online workshop content, reflection and feedback, as well as artwork which can be displayed online, prompting debate around the relationship of arts, expression, neurodiversity, tests, and intelligence. 


Project team

For the last 30 years, Francesca Happé's research has focused on autism. She has explored social cognition and ‘mentalising’ difficulties. She is actively engaged in studies of abilities and assets in autism, and their relation to detail-focused cognitive style. Some of her recent work focuses on mental health on the autism spectrum, and under-researched groups including women and the elderly.

Peter Shenai’s practice is situated in the interplay between physical objects, sensory cues, play, &novel communication. In ​Hurricane Bells​, he used meteorological data to cast five bells in the shape of Hurricane Katrina, which were taken to New Orleans over the 13th anniversary of the storm and played on by Katrina survivors. Hear more ​here​.


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Faculties and departments
  • Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience