Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.

(If you’re looking for the manifesto, please scroll down the page and there’ll be more soon)

‘Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.’ Jeanette Winterson 

Looking through the newspapers over the last few days, I’ve been overwhelmed by the usual round up of ‘highlights’ of 2011: successes, failures, deaths and revelations. I’m still surprised how little is reported on the on-going crisis resulting from the tsunami in Japan in March.
How is the health and well-being of the displaced people around Fukushima, now that the Japanese government has increased the levels of radiation it is permissible and ‘safe’ for its citizens to be exposed to? Although barely noticeable in the printed media in the UK, counterpunch have provided some compelling detail, exposing the very real and enduring plight of people in Japan. What is particularly poignant, is the focus on women's voices, reminiscent of Greenham Common in the early 80’s, when 30,000 women held hands and formed a human fence around nine miles of the US nuclear missile base, and sung They Shall Not Pass
The women of Japan sing a traditional song of remembrance and longing, Furosato:

Someday when I have done what I set out to do,
I will return to where I used to have my home.
Lush and green are the mountains of my homeland.
Pure and clear is the water of my old country home.

This year has also seen societal unrest on a scale unseen in a generation. Whilst focus in the UK media has been on the ‘Arab Spring’ and the unfolding crisis in Syria, the voices of school girls unbalanced the political system across Chile, resulting in a number of government resignations and questioning wider social inequalities. The voices of the young women of Chile cannot be ignored.
Closer to home, and less apparently sensational, the small print in the Guardian on 30th December revealed that antidepressant use in the England has risen by more than a quarter over the last 3 years. Prescriptions for anti-depressants rose from 34m in 2007/08 to 43.4m in 2010/11: an increase of 28%. Furthermore, in the North West we have the highest antidepressant use over 2010/11, with 7.2m prescriptions dispensed.
I have no doubt at all, that antidepressants offer critical respite from serious and debilitating depression, but we mustn't lose sight of some of the factors that impact on our mental health, and the current economic crisis plays a real part in this. Whilst counselling and talking therapies can help turn lives around, it is significant that as the government have increased their support for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, this apparent treatment of choice is both time-limited and ‘measured’ in part, by the individuals’ ability to find employment/return to work. And we’re told that depression is costing the economy almost £11bn a year. I seem to remember the wonderful Dorothy Rowe telling the Un-Conference here at MMU in October, that guilt, blame and shame are all part of that complex baggage that erodes our well-being and can cause depression. (see Greenberg in recommended books for the big picture)

Doesn’t it seem like we’re in some horrible muddle, measuring our well-being...measuring our ‘happiness’ ad infinitum. The writer Jeanette Winterson sums it up perfectly, ‘...when money becomes the core value, then education drives towards utility...the life of the mind will not be counted as a good unless it produces measurable results.’
In her autobiography, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Jeanette Winterson paints a picture of her life, originally fictionalised in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. It’s an enthralling read and one that I won’t spoil, but one in which we are given some very strong ideas about the potential impact of the arts on our well-being, and how as ‘meaning-seeking creatures’ in an increasingly secular world, we need to find ‘new ways of finding meaning.’ She also succeeds in blowing the myth, that poetry and prose are luxuries for the educated middle classes, suggesting ‘a tough life needs a tough language - and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers - a language powerful enough to say how it is.’


In his report to HM Treasury, didn’t Derek Wanless suggest that evidence showed that one of the strongest determinants of health impact, wasn’t in fact, the reach of health services, but the female literacy rate?

I wonder how the people of Japan will describe this experience of being; will the actions of the young women of Chile go down in song, and how will we make sense of the here-and-now on our increasingly depressed little island?   C.P

Thanks to Dr Nick Shimmin for sharing counterpunch; Professor Chris Williams of Pace University for his essay; the inspirational young people of Chile and Jeanette Winterson.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin 1964

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best things...manifesto and first networking evening 2012

Just a couple of things for this last posting of 2011…

I want to give a big thanks to everyone who’s been supportive of Arts for Health over the last 12 months and wish you all the very best for whatever 2012 throws at us. On a personal note, it has been incredibly exciting to see people joining our supposedly ‘regional’ network from all areas of the globe! It’s wonderful to have lots of comments about the manifesto (part 1) too, some of which I will include in part 2 in January.
 
Work in progress from 1st session in Manchester...
If you haven’t sent thoughts or responses to me about the manifesto, but were involved in the process, I’d be really keen to hear your thoughts, or collect your comments before its next incarnation. So please send them to artsforhealth@mmu.ac.uk
I have collected some sharp, subtle and inspirational thoughts from people who were involved in the sessions, from those who weren’t but feel passionately, and from the wider world of Culture, Science, Politics and the Arts.

Dementia and Imagination evening
I’m thrilled that the artist Claire Ford will be sharing reflections of her Churchill Fellowship at our first network event of 2012 on Thursday January 26th between 6:00 and 8:00pm (venue to be confirmed at MMU). As usual the event is free to our members, and will be informal. Claire spent 10 weeks in the USA exploring different approaches to dementia and the arts, and will be sharing this experience, her findings and ideas about future developments in the field.


Final details of the venue and confirmation of places will be sent out one week prior to the event, but please drop an expression of interest in attending to artsforhealth@mmu.ac.uk before Thursday 19th January. Please enter Dementia and Imagination in the subject line of the email.

For now, my very best things to you...Clive

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Sign of the Times

Every now and then, I venture out to go shopping at mainstream chain clothing stores.  Although I find it onerous, there are certain things I can't get at thrift stores.  For example, I can never find nice jeans.

The last time I set foot in these stores was about two years ago.  It was tough to find pants my size at that time-- many stores simply didn't sell pants with a 30 inch waist.  This year, it was even harder, since some of the stores that formerly carried 30W pants no longer did.  I managed to find my usual 30W 30L size in two stores, but I had a bizarre experience in both cases.   I put them on, and they were falling off my waist.  Since my waist size hasn't changed in two years, and my old 30W 30L pants of the same brand still fit the same as they did when I bought them two years ago, I have to conclude that both stores have changed their definition of "30 inches".  My new size is 28W 30L, which is tough to find these days.
Read more »

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

M A N I F E S T O and more...

M A N I F E S T O  Part ONE
Our manifesto is just as much about education as it is health; the arts as it is science, communities as it is the individual. Well-being is central to our vision. The arts are central to fulfilling our fundamental human rights.

  • this is not a quick fix
  • this is not about benign lumps of municipal sculpture
  • this is not about reducing the arts to a cost-effective prescription
  • this is about well-being
  • this is about democracy
  • this is about human flourishing
  • this is about new ways of understanding impact and value
  • this is about solidarity

Click on the image above to access full-colour, black and white and podcast versions. I'll be collating all comments and thoughts over the new-year.

NETWORKING EVENINGS at MMU
Please keep your eye on the blog for updates on three very special networking events over winter/spring 2012:
  • Stroke and the Arts
  • Dementia and Imagination
  • Fourth Culture
Response to the European Review Consultation
For those of you who were interested in the response to the European Review Consultation lead by Sir Michael Marmot for the World Health Organisation, emphasising the importance of creativity, culture and the arts in relationship to social determinants of health and health inequalities, please see the co-ordinated response from Stephen Clift, to whom I extend my thanks.
(Click on image below)

 Experience of Creativity Questionnaire
Elaine McNeill from Liverpool John Moores University is undertaking a study that network members may want to contribute to.
The purpose of the study
This study is part of MSc in Consciousness and transpersonal Psychology and will look toward developing an understanding of personal transformation as an outcome of creative practice.  As a participant you may benefit by gaining a deeper understanding of your creative practice. 
Taking part
It is entirely up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you do you will be asked to complete a 10-15min questionnaire online. You are still free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason. A decision to withdraw will not affect your rights. The online questionnaire requires you to consider a time when you were being creative. The questionnaire should take approx 10-15mins. You may be asked to take part in an in-depth interview which will take 20-30mins, please leave a contact email address at the end of the survey. The interview will be exploring the aspects of the creative process discussed in the questionnaire.
The possible benefits include:
A greater understanding of creativity which could inform your studies/practice.
Confidentiality
As a participant you will have access to the final report and you may be quoted verbatim in future publications. However, your participation and contribution to this research will be kept confidential as you will remain anonymous in all information/data. 
Please click on this link to access the questionnaire:  http://www.survey.ljmu.ac.uk/ecq

The Two Wheeled Key to Better Health and a Better World
Thanks again to Cheryl G for another excellent info-graphic. Click on the graphic to go to the full document.

Friday, December 9, 2011

60 Minutes Report on the Flavorist Industry

A reader sent me a link to a recent CBS documentary titled "Tweaking Tastes and Creating Cravings", reported by Morley Safer.

Safer describes the "flavorist" industry, entirely dedicated to crafting irresistible odors for the purpose of selling processed and restaurant food.  They focused on the company Givaudin.  Dr. David Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, makes an appearance near the end.

Here are a few notable quotes:

Read more »

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is a Pizza a vegetable?

Thank you SO MUCH for all the thoughts and comments on the manifesto part 1. Everything is valid and will be thrown in the mix for part 2. Sorry for my slow response if you've emailed me whilst I've been in Australia. I am back in the UK now and will be updating this blog in the manner in which you are accustomed to.

So for now, and to get us in the mood for all that 2012 offers, a question.
IS A PIZZA A VEGETABLE?
It appears that congress thinks so. Read on by clicking on the pizza!
Best things, Clive

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Review Papers on Food Reward

As research on the role of reward/palatability in obesity continues to accelerate, interesting new papers are appearing weekly.  Here is a roundup of review papers I've encountered in the last three months.  These range from somewhat technical to very technical, but I think they should be mostly accessible to people with a background in the biological sciences. 

Food and Drug Reward: Overlapping Circuits in Human Obesity and Addiction
Written by Dr. Nora D. Volkow and colleagues.  This paper describes the similarities between the mechanisms of obesity and addiction, with a focus on human brain imaging studies.  Most researchers don't think obesity is an addiction per se, but the mechanisms (e.g., brain areas important for reward) do seem to overlap considerably.  This paper is well composed and got a lot of media attention.  Dr. Volkow is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a branch of the National Institutes of Health.  The NIH is the main source of biomedical research funding in the US, and also conducts its own research.

Here's a quote from the paper:

Read more »

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another Simple Food Weight Loss Experience

Whole Health Source reader Sarah Pugh recently went on a six-week simple food (low reward) diet to test its effectiveness as a weight loss strategy, and she was kind enough to describe her experience for me, and provide a link to her blog where she discussed it in more detail (1). 

Consistent with the scientific literature and a number of previous reader anecdotes (2), Sarah experienced a reduction in appetite on the simple food diet, losing 15 pounds in 6 weeks without hunger.  In contrast to her prior experiences with typical calorie restriction, her energy level and mood remained high over this period.  Here's a quote from her blog:
Well, it looks like the theory that in the absence of nice palatable food, the body will turn quite readily to fat stores and start munching them up, is holding up. At the moment, the majority of the energy I use is coming from my insides, and my body is using it without such quibbles as the increased hunger, low energy, crappy thermo-regulation or bitchiness normally associated with severe calorie restriction.
I can't promise that everyone will experience results like this, but this is basically what the food reward hypothesis suggests should be possible, and it seems to work this way for many people.  That's one of the reasons why this idea interests me so much.

Read more »

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Brief Response to Taubes's Food Reward Critique, and a Little Something Extra

It appears Gary Taubes has completed his series critiquing the food reward hypothesis of obesity (1).  I have to hand it to him, it takes some cojones to critique an entire field of research, particularly when you have no scientific background in it, and have evidently not read any of the scientific literature on it.  As of 2012, a Google Scholar search for the terms “food reward” and “obesity” turned up 2,790 papers.

The food reward hypothesis of obesity states that the reward and palatability value of food influence body fatness, and excess reward/palatability can promote body fat accumulation.  If we want to test the hypothesis, the most direct way is to find experiments in which 1) the nutritional qualities of the experimental diet groups are kept the same or at least very similar, 2) some aspect of diet reward/palatability differs, and 3) changes in body fat/weight are measured (for example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).  In these experiments the hypothesis has both arms and one leg tied behind its back, because the most potent reward factors (energy density, sugar, fat) have nutritional value and therefore experiments that modify these cannot be tightly controlled for nutritional differences.  Yet even with this severe disadvantage, the hypothesis is consistently supported by the scientific evidence.  Taubes repeatedly stated in his series that controlled studies like these have not been conducted, apparently basing this belief on a 22-year-old review paper by Dr. Israel Ramirez and colleagues that does not contain the word 'reward' (10).

Another way to test the hypothesis is to see if people with higher food reward sensitivity (due to genetics or other factors) tend to gain more fat over time (for example, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16).  In addition, studies that have examined the effect of palatability/reward on food intake in a controlled manner are relevant (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22), as are studies that have identified some of the mechanisms by which these effects occur (reviewed in 23).  Even if not all of the studies are perfect, at some point, one has to acknowledge that there are a lot of mutually buttressing lines of evidence here.  It is notable that virtually none of these studies appeared in Taubes's posts, and he appeared unaware of them. 
Read more »

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Recent Papers by Matt Metzgar

This is just a quick post to highlight two recent papers by the economist and fellow health writer Matt Metzgar.

The first paper is titled "The Feasibility of a Paleolithic Diet for Low-income Consumers", and is co-authored by Dr. Todd C. Rideout, Maelan Fontes-Villalba, and Dr. Remko S. Kuipers (1).  They found that a Paleolithic-type diet that meets all micronutrient requirements except calcium (which probably has an unnecessarily high RDA) costs slightly more money than a non-Paleolithic diet that fulfills the same requirements, but both are possible on a tight budget. 

The second paper is titled "Externalities From Grain Consumption: a Survey", with Matt Metzgar as the sole author (2).  He reviews certain positive and negative externalities due to the effects of grain consumption on health.  The take-home message is that refined grains are unhealthy and therefore costly to society, whole grains are better, but grains in general have certain healthcare-related economic costs that are difficult to deny, such as celiac disease.

There are a lot of ideas floating around on the blogosphere, some good and others questionable.  Composing a manuscript and submitting it to a reputable scientific journal is a good way to demonstrate that your idea holds water, and it's also a good way to communicate it to the scientific community.  The peer review process isn't perfect but it does encourage scientific rigor.  I think Metzgar is a good example of someone who has successfully put his ideas through this process.  Pedro Bastos, who also spoke at the Ancestral Health Symposium, is another example (3).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Does High Circulating Insulin Drive Body Fat Accumulation? Answers from Genetically Modified Mice

The house mouse Mus musculus is an incredible research tool in the biomedical sciences, due to its ease of care and its ability to be genetically manipulated.  Although mice aren't humans, they resemble us closely in many ways, including how insulin signaling works.  Genetic manipulation of mice allows researchers to identify biological mechanisms and cause-effect relationships in a very precise manner.  One way of doing this is to create "knockout" mice that lack a specific gene, in an attempt to determine that gene's importance in a particular process.  Another way is to create transgenic mice that express a gene of interest, often modified in some way.  A third method is to use an extraordinary (but now common) tool called "Cre-lox" recombination (1), which allows us to delete or add a single gene in a specific tissue or cell type. 

Studying the relationship between obesity and insulin resistance is challenging, because the two typically travel together, confounding efforts to determine which is the cause and which is the effect of the other (or neither).  Some have proposed the hypothesis that high levels of circulating insulin promote body fat accumulation*.  To truly address this question, we need to consider targeted experiments that increase circulating insulin over long periods of time without altering a number of other factors throughout the body.  This is where mice come in.  Scientists are able to perform precise genetic interventions in mice that increase circulating insulin over a long period of time.  These mice should gain fat mass if the hypothesis is correct. 

Read more »

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

m a n i f e s t o

So here it is: m a n i f e s t o: part 1


It's been a while in the making and is the first of two parts.

A colourful version is available here alongside a straight black and white word version. A short animated film and podcast version will be available shortly.

I know that it's what some of you expected, because we’ve talked about it.
I know that it's not what some of you expected, because we’ve talked about it.

So respond to it, talk about it and share it, and we’ll get some of these thoughts into part 2 and see how it grows!

Thank you everyone who’s been involved.

And of course, I’ll give some presentations around it, and encourage some debate.

No more round-robins for November, whilst I am away at the 3rd International Conference for Arts, Health and Well-being, but there may be the odd conference posting if you have a moment to visit this blog.

Please post all comments around the m a n i f e s t o to artsforhealth@mmu.ac.uk and excuse the brief silence.

...and for those of you who haven't taken part in the process, it may be worth looking at the references first!




On Friday 7th October, the Marmot Review Team launched a consultation on the European Review of the Social Determinants of Health & the Health Divide in the WHO European Region. At the present moment, this consultation makes no reference to the role of the arts and creative interventions on health inequalities, and the time is right for our input. I will be making some comments on this consultation, but if you want to read more and contribute yourself, click on the logo above or follow this link:
http://www.marmotreview.org/reviews/european-review-of-hi/consultation.aspx

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Brain Controls Insulin Action

Insulin regulates blood glucose primarily by two mechanisms:
  1. Suppressing glucose production by the liver
  2. Enhancing glucose uptake by other tissues, particularly muscle and liver
Since the cells contained in liver, muscle and other tissues respond directly to insulin stimulation, most people don't think about the role of the brain in this process.  An interesting paper just published in Diabetes reminds us of the central role of the brain in glucose metabolism as well as body fat regulation (1).  Investigators showed that by inhibiting insulin signaling in the brains of mice, they could diminish insulin's ability to suppress liver glucose production by 20%, and its ability to promote glucose uptake by muscle tissue by 59%.  In other words, the majority of insulin's ability to cause muscle to take up glucose is mediated by its effect on the brain. 

Read more »

GMAHN Library and Website Launched...the Un-Conference and SO much more...

Musique et Sante
The wonderful Musique et Sante who regularly work with our collegues at the Royal Northern College of Music, (RNCM) have developed their own website, which I recommend to you all. Partners and allies of the finest quality.
http://www.musique-sante.org/en 

Bi-Monthly Networking Evening
(a change to our advertised programme)
I'll be 'out of service' for much of November, and instead of cancelling the networking evening planned for the end of the month, I'm thrilled that Holly at the RNCM has offered network members the opportunity to attend a talk on Music for Health as part of the RNCM Research Forum Series. It will take place on Wednesday 23 November at 5.15pm – 6.45pm in the RNCM Lecture Theatre and is entitled ‘Creating musical space in a medical place’. Holly Marland will be sharing insights into the role that music can play in hospital settings and the training and support that can be offered to musicians. There will be an opportunity for discussion and some informal networking in the RNCM bar afterwards. Places are limited so if you’d like to come along, please drop holly an email at holly.marland@rncm.ac.uk


An Evidence Review of the Impact of Participatory Arts on Older People
A very important contemporary review of arts participation conducted by the Mental Health Foundation.
http://www.baringfoundation.org.uk/EvidenceReview.pdf

Greater Manchester Arts Health Network Library
I am thrilled to be supporting the Greater Manchester Arts Health Network website which was formally opened last week. This on-line resource provides a fantastic one-stop-shop for some of the latest thinking, research and development in the field. Please check it out and in particular the extensive LIBRARY.
Fantastic work Anne and Phil.
http://www.greatermanchesterartshealth.org.uk/

Brief thoughts on the Un-Conference
Last Thursday’s Un-Conference was a (long) day of challenging, exciting and provocative debate and activity around our arts/health field. Divided into 4 themed sessions, the day gave the opportunity to participants to engage in 1 or more of the day’s events.

Langley Brown and Phil Burgess were quick to provoke and excite, getting people on their feet and active and using deeply personal stories of their own experiences as artists to question narratives and in part suggest, that its never too late to have a happy childhood.
Lynn Frogett and her team shared their psychosocial approach to understanding how the arts can change individuals and communities through theory and practice in an interactive workshop exploring how practitioners and organisations can evidence this.
Clive, Dorothy and Anne
Dorothy Rowe was utterly compelling and shared some of her thoughts on the myth of depression and its chemical origins, alongside notions of imagination. The repose to Dorothy’s session has been quite overwhelming.
            
                   Thought Provoking
                       Inspiring
                          Moving and concise

Mark O’Neil and Leisa Gray gave an excellent two-hander to round the day off, exploring the potential of museums and galleries to impact on public health at a population level, and a more intimate hands-on experience of literally handling objects. A perfect end to a wonderful day.
A Gentle Prod at those who take for granted...
The venue wasn’t perfect for the day, with some distracting noise from people working, and a couple of people complained there wasn’t food! I do have some sympathy about the ambient distractions, but for those demanding food…the day was free to all participants, and cost a fortune to host. So, no more greedy bleating please.

And finally a big thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Harvard Food Law Society "Forum on Food Policy" TEDx Conference

Last Friday, it was my pleasure to attended and present at the Harvard Food Law Society's TEDx conference, Forum on Food Policy.  I had never been to Cambridge or Boston before, and I was struck by how European they feel compared to Seattle.  The conference was a great success, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Food Law Society's presidents Nate Rosenberg, Krista DeBoer, and many other volunteers. 

Dr. Robert Lustig gave a keynote address on Thursday evening, which I unfortunately wasn't able to attend due to my flight schedule.  From what I heard, he focused on practical solutions for reducing national sugar consumption, such as instituting a sugar tax.  Dr. Lustig was a major presence at the conference, and perhaps partially due to his efforts, sugar was a central focus throughout the day.  Nearly everyone agrees that added sugar is harmful to the nation's health at current intakes, so the question kept coming up "how long is it going to take us to do something about it?"  As Dr. David Ludwig said, "...the obesity epidemic can be viewed as a disease of technology with a simple, but politically difficult solution".

Read more »

Monday, October 17, 2011

Losing Fat With Simple Food-- Two Reader Anecdotes

Each week, I'm receiving more e-mails and comments from people who are successfully losing fat by eating simple (low reward) food, similar to what I described here.  In some cases, people are breaking through fat loss plateaus that they had reached on conventional low-carbohydrate, low-fat or paleo diets.  This concept can be applied to any type of diet, and I believe it is an important characteristic of ancestral food patterns.

At the Ancestral Health Symposium, I met two Whole Health Source readers, Aravind Balasubramanian and Kamal Patel, who were interested in trying a simple diet to lose fat and improve their health.  In addition, they wanted to break free of certain other high-reward activities in their lives that they felt were not constructive.  They recently embarked on an 8-week low-reward diet and lifestyle to test the effectiveness of the concepts.  Both of them had previously achieved a stable (in Aravind's case, reduced) weight on a paleo-ish diet prior to this experiment, but they still carried more fat than they wanted to.  They offered to write about their experience for WHS, and I thought other readers might find it informative.  Their story is below, followed by a few of my comments.

Read more »

Power, Older People, Australia, Young People, Drugs and St Perry of Essex

Ai Weiwei tops the art world’s ‘power 100 list’…whatever that is! ‘His art activism has been a reminder of how art can reach out to a bigger audience and connect with the real world…Institutions, while they are really important, can be great tombs.’
Mark Rappolt, Editer, Art Review

How we value older people, the arts and the 'market'
I’m thrilled to be giving the opening key-note at the 3rd Annual Art of Good Health and Wellbeing International Arts and Health Conference, which is taking place at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra between the 14 and 17 November 2011. I’ve written a paper which explores the role of the arts when we are faced with serious illness and which asks, in the face of our own mortality, just what relevance can culture and the arts play, if any. An article in today’s Gurdian chimes with much of the sentiment of my paper (see directly below)

The Hon Simon Crean MP Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Minister for the Arts, will be opening the conference and I’ll be giving my paper at around 6:15 on Monday the 14th, so if you want to hear it and get involved in our international debate, please come along.
http://www.artsandhealth.org

Illustration by Andrzej Krauze
 NHS end-of-life care has been crippled by a marketised mindset that sees everything in terms of its economic value 'Our market-shaped way of life has no time for the elderly or the art of caring.' Madeline Bunting captures some of the outrageous issues affecting us all, around how we age; end of life care and the insidious ‘market led’ approach to ‘care.’
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/16/market-no-time-elderly-caring  

What young people are really thinking?
The Art of Protest is a pop-up exhibition organised that will take place in empty shops on Manchester's Market Street from 19 to 27 October. The charity Noise sent photographers Liam Carter, Sebastian
Heise, Lucia Zapata and Marta Julve out on the streets of Manchester, Madrid, Valencia and Berlin, to ask young people the question: 'What would make you protest?' Displaying the resultant images in an area hit by the recent riots is a powerful statement of disillusioned youth

To find out more go to: http://noisefestival.com/    

Why Americans Pay So Much More For Brand-Name Drugs (and Canadians don’t)
Brilliant Graphics and another sharp commentary on the pharmaceutical industry from http://medicalbillingandcodingcertification.net/high-cost-of-rx/
…and a Big Thanks to Cheryl Godden

On the Secular Beatification of St Perry of Essex
I’m often asked if I’m after a ‘celebrity’ to be a patron of Arts for Health, and in truth, we’ve had some great people behind our work over the years including Lord Attenborough; Joan Bakewell; Melvyn Bragg and Sam Taylor-Wood, but the current obsession with fame and all its glories, has left a bit of doubt in my mind around publicity, for publicity’s sake. Much of this has been reflected by the vapid self-celebration of contemporary British art.

This said, I had an almost revelatory moment at the British Museum this weekend, in the exhibition by Grayson Perry: Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, which I would recommend to anyone, particularly the people who ask, ‘what’s the relationship between arts and heath?’ I tend to open up a conversation about it being more than just a prescription...

Perry has produced something completely exquisite in his curation of artifacts’ from the British Museum and creation of his own work. I don’t particularly think he lays it on with a trowel either. It’s a beautiful show, with some challenging work that whilst exploring Perry’s own experience of being human, offers though the arts, far wider thoughts on being individual and part of a community. It’s not dumbed down in the slightest…if anything, he ups the ante.

Grayson Perry (b. 1960), The Rosetta Vase, 2011. © Grayson Perry. Courtesy Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
So on the basis of his enduring wit, cynicism and piercing beauty, I suggest some kind of secular beatification of Perry, and instead of approaching him to be a patron, he could be co-opted as our very own (and exquisitely flawed) Patron-Saint of the Arts.
http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/grayson_perry.aspx  
http://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/_12

An artists answer to the credit crisis…
Michael Landy’s Credit Card Destroying Machine was unveiled at the Frieze Art Fair last week. The huge Jean Tinguely-inspired contraption, pieced together from a random collection of found objects such as mannequin limbs and Mickey Mouse figures, is surrounded by tiny bits of shredded credit cards on the floor. In return for a drawing made by the machine that bears Landy’s signature, people have to hand over a valid credit card for shredding. An assistant feeds pre-signed sheets of paper into the machine and off it goes, with a marker pen attached to a metal arm doing an automated random drawing (you can choose the colour). Some 300 credit cards were shredded during the first day alone (including the private view). Landy, of course, is best known for shredding all his worldly possessions a few years ago. (Thanks to itsnicethat.com and Thomas Dane)
http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/michael-landy-frieze-2011
http://www.thomasdane.com/artist.php?artist_id=7

...and for all of you eagerly awaiting Part 1 of the m a n i f e s t o for arts/health, I can confirm that the wonderful Kamila Kasperowicz has been creating a stunning digital and hard copy version for your delectation…

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chile: a World Summit on Arts and Culture and Student Uprising...

Chile...a World Summit on Arts and Culture
The International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) has announced that Chile would host the 6th World Summit on Arts and Culture in its capital, Santiago, on 13-16 January 2014.


This will be the first time that the World Summit has been staged in Latin America and will be presented in Santiago’s award-winning EstaciĆ³n Mapocho Cultural Centre. One of IFACCA’s most significant initiatives, the World Summit on Arts and Culture provides national arts councils, ministries of culture and other agencies with an opportunity to discuss key issues affecting public support for the arts and creativity. Previous World Summits on Arts and Culture has been held in Canada (2000), Singapore (2003), England (2006), South Africa (2009) and Australia (2011).


Provisionally entitled Creative Citizens: Technology and Culture for Diversity, the theme for the 6th World Summit will address the current context of globalisation and the challenges in the cultural arena, specifically in relation to safeguarding and protecting cultural diversity and cultural identities. New technologies in culture represent an opportunity to impact positively on the visibility and legitimatisation of cultural identities, to foster increased cultural diversity, and to enhance access, production and exchange of cultural goods. At the General Assembly, IFACCA also launched WorldCP, an international database of cultural policies [http://www.worldcp.org].
For further information please see www.ifacca.org 




Hola hermanas y hermanos en Chile y la solidaridad de artistas y profesionales de la salud en el Reino Unido ...
  
Camila Vallejo on a march in Santiago held on the anniversary
of the Pinochet coup that toppled
President Salvador Allende in 1973. Photograph: Aliosha Marquez/AP
Chile...Girls Demand Free University Education
‘It was the most beautiful moment, all of us in school uniform climbing over the fence, taking back control of our school. It was such an emotional moment, we all wanted to cry.’ Angelica Alvarez 14
With the IFACCA announcement freshly ringing in our ears, its worth noting how a group of teenage girls kick started what is known in Chile as  the ‘Chilean Winter’. There’s not been much in the UK press on this story, with our focus facing towards the ‘Arab Spring’, but here’s a synopsis.

A group of young girls have occupied Carmela Carvajal primary and secondary school for five months fighting for a single goal: free university education for all. The girls took a vote on their action too, with a 10/1 in favour of action, and their days are organised through a democartic voting system for managing all aspects of their lives, but their argument is simple; that education is recognised as a common right for all, not a consumer good to be sold on the open market.

 
This is part of a vast student uprising across Chile, with weekly protest marches gathering between 50,000 and 100,000 students. The girls are still having a rich education, supplemented by yoga and salsa and music gigs. There’s an excellent article on this story by Jonathan Franklin at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/07/chilean-girls-occupation-school-protest

So, with a World Summit on Arts and Culture and a democratic Student Uprising, lets hope that the IFACCA board see it in their remit to explore how culture and the arts are a force for social change, and if a core part of their agenda is about Creative Citizens and Technology, then this is potentially an exciting and provocative summit and one where our ever-evolving arts/health/well-being agenda is central.

And whilst use of facebook and twitter is being used as evidence of dissent in the UK resulting in lengthy prison sentences for those who advocate civil dissobedience, in Chile we can see how creative citizens have in fact harnessed this technolgy. Here are two links to the student leader, Camila Vallejo Dowling's blog and twitter...
http://twitter.com/#!/camila_vallejo   http://www.camilapresidenta.blogspot.com/  


Anyone Who Has a Heart is a light sculpture that displays your heart rate. It is a landmark and signature artwork sited at the entrance to the new Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The sculpture aims to catch attention through its form, textures and movement. giving a sense of fun and playfulness for all ages. Walking around the sculpture triggers sensors and changes the light display. Holding onto the stainless steel hand grips monitors your heart rate and translates that into a red light display synchronised with your pulse. It can also tell you the time as every hour, the sculpture turns into a clock. The sequence is explained on floor panels along with information about the heart rate of a range of animals.



It was commissioned by Lime in collaboration with the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This stunning work was made by artist Andrew Small commissioned through a special arts programme allocation from the hospital’s Charitable Funds.





Friday, October 7, 2011

The Case for the Food Reward Hypothesis of Obesity, Part II

In this post, I'll explore whether or not the scientific evidence is consistent with the predictions of the food reward hypothesis, as outlined in the last post.

Before diving in, I'd like to address the critique that the food reward concept is a tautology or relies on circular reasoning (or is not testable/falsifiable).  This critique has no logical basis.  The reward and palatability value of a food is not defined by its effect on energy intake or body fatness.  In the research setting, food reward is measured by the ability of food or food-related stimuli to reinforce or motivate behavior (e.g., 1).  In humans, palatability is measured by having a person taste a food and rate its pleasantness in a standardized, quantifiable manner, or sometimes by looking at brain activity by fMRI or related techniques (2).  In rodents, it is measured by observing stereotyped facial responses to palatable and unpalatable foods, which are similar to those seen in human infants.  It is not a tautology or circular reasoning to say that the reinforcing value or pleasantness of food influences food intake and body fatness. These are quantifiable concepts and as I will explain, their relationship with food intake and body fatness can be, and already has been, tested in a controlled manner. 

1.   Increasing the reward/palatability value of the diet should cause fat gain in animals and humans

Read more »

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What is Madness? - and so much more.


Illustration by Clifford Harper/Agraphia.co.uk
What is Madness? This is the title of a new book by psychoanalyst Darian Leader, which was reviewed in the Guardian on Saturday 1st October. Whilst I haven’t yet read the book, it looks incredibly interesting and relevant to our field. The review was by Jacqueline Rose and made for interesting reading itself, particularly her discussion around the government sponsored ‘therapy of choice,’ Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Rose reflects the Governments No Health without Mental Health and their commitment to evidence based therapy, which allows session-by-session outcome monitoring, predominantly measured by employment rates. Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Landsley, she notes, acknowledges that unemployment is a key factor in precipitating anxiety disorders and depression. You can see where this is leading I’m sure!

Joblessness is above 2.5 million and rising as a result of government policy, and it seems that,’ the government by its own account, is provoking the problem it is trying to cure.’

The article then eloquently discusses the commodification of humans and the emptying of our unconscious mental life. It’s a great article and one that I feel would benefit from an arts/health lens, but for me the question of what madness is, perhaps lies in the Joseph Heller inspired governance of our disconnected leaders.

See the review here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/sep/29/what-madness-darian-leader-review

Un-Conference 2011
Click here for more information about the free event at MMU on October 20th.
http://artsforhealthmmu.blogspot.com/2011/09/un-conference-eventthe-scottish-mental.html


Library Theatre Company & Cornerhouse are seeking:
Storybox Project Co-ordinator
£21,473 pro rata for 3 days a week (3-year fixed term contract)
Based: Manchester City Centre

We are looking to appoint a highly motivated, passionate and experienced individual to deliver an exciting and innovative arts workshop programme for older people living with Alzheimer’s & dementia.
http://www.librarytheatre.com/about-us/work-opportunities-and-casting/recruitment 

Start2 (Change your life with Art)
Change your life with Art is an NHS service that is totally unique. Created by Start in Manchester with the support of the Strategic Health Authority and the Department of Health, it will be a collection of creative ‘courses’ with wellbeing themes, and that will encourage people to connect to the world differently, see their own strengths, be aware of their own stress triggers and have ways to handle that stress better – all through evidence based creative activities. Although it’s not launched formally until January 2011, you can get a sneak peak here and register for updates: http://www.start2.co.uk/  

Lucy Sparrow
A Health Lottery...
Did you know about the new Health Lottery? No, not government policy, or our world famous post-code lottery, this is the one that gives a massive 20p of every pound you spend towards a good cause! The rest presumably goes to Richard Desmond, the 57th richest man in the UK and owner of Express Newspapers, OK, Television X and Red Hot TV.
A taste of things to come...?

Artist in Residence Opportunity
LIME are seeking two artists for a short term experimental residency project. This is a ‘paired residency’ scheme whereby each artist will work with a similar hospital department but in two hospitals, one in Bolton and one in Manchester.

Fee for each artist: £3,000 (including materials costs)
Application Deadline: Tuesday 11th October
Start Date: Week of 7th November


Full Details at:
http://www.limeart.org/ops.php