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Utopian lab: Student Utopias

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. 

As part of Utopia 2016, King’s brought contemporary artists and King’s health students together to stage Are You Feeling Better?, a range of projects that creatively 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 these 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 were presented by artists from different angles. And students in Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing & Midwifery, and Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience explored their own expertise and reflected on their work in public forums, through outcomes such as the Secret society of imperfect nurses

The project finds its conclusion in the Utopian lab as a film and book that document the project and attempt to resolve those questions that were initially posed.

Project lead

Frances Williams is a freelance writer and curator and is the project producer of Are you feeling better?


Utopian lab

This project was part of the Utopian lab, a contemporary glimpse of the Health Faculties at King’s College London. The crusade to understand, save and compliment the human body and mind was the spirit of Utopia itself, uniting cultures, defining humanity and standing on the shoulders of giants.

Rotating through the different stories of present day work day work being carried out across the Health Faculties at King’s College London, Utopian lab was a snapshot of the future with roots firmly planted in King’s College Hospital’s past: a workhouse on the Strand that was propelled to notoriety by the surgery work of Joseph Lister in the late 19th century. 

‘I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results’ – Florence Nightingale



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