In these conversations, I've realised that my research isn't just about the technicalities; it's about how it resonates with people in their everyday lives. The personal stories and experiences shared by the community provide a unique perspective that I wouldn't get solely from the lab, making my research more meaningful and relevant to the world beyond academia.Sevban Dogan Ekici, PhD student, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences
05 December 2023
Art and research collide at local community centre
Researchers from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences collaborated with local artists and residents at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre to explore, interpret and communicate health imaging.
Under the Mithras Research Programme, researchers aim to develop easy, quick and inexpensive ways to make new radioactive drugs. They are approaching new ways to image and treat disease, from heart issues to dementia and cancer.
The collaborations with Coin Street, developed and supported by the School’s Community Engagement officer, Deanne Naula, and the Public Engagement team, forge a connection with community members and offer researchers a broader perspective on health imaging.
One of the researchers on the programme, Sevban Dogan Ekici, says engaging with the community has been a game-changer for her.
Coin Street holds fortnightly art classes for Lambeth and Southwark residents aged over 50.
Through a series of creative workshops, led by artist photographer Liane Harris and supported by Programme Manager Nishi Begum, the group discussed current and new methods of body imaging, how these new methods would differ and how they will positively affect patients.
Liane guided participants and researchers through the exploration of these themes utilising a different art discipline each week.
Programme Manager Nishi Begum, who has worked with the group for years, was surprised by the depth of conversations the topics brought about.
“The topic of health can bring up many things - going to appointments, getting scans, medication, deteriorating health, recovery, waiting rooms, online booking systems. New technology is such a big part of everyday life for this demographic."
There were moments that almost moved me to tears and gave me a sense of privilege to be able to witness and host these spaces for people to share often quite profound experiences.Nishi Begum, Youth and Community Programmes Coordinator, Coin Street
The workshops were not only an opportunity to inspire conversations, but to create beautiful artwork. Through which participants also expressed the emotional and mental nuances of how people perceived their bodies.
“Art has proven to be a powerful tool in our conversations. These creative sessions have transformed complex scientific concepts into something relatable and engaging. It not only breaks down communication barriers but also adds a layer of emotion and connection to the discussions,” Sevban says.
The artwork will be displayed in the next few months at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre.