Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kabul Graffiti, Black Dog Day, Streetwise Opera and What's a Dying Man got to Sing About?

Photograph: Omar Sobhani /Reuters
Subtle spraycan art attack on public spaces in capital is trying to prod Afghans into asking questions 
My black dog is not like any black dog it belongs to me and I live with it.
Once I thought it was very scary and I wondered what was happening to me to make me feel so sad and lonely, all alone. I spoke to a friend who I could trust with my inner most thoughts, and what a sense of relief.
It was not as scary as I thought it would be to open up and share my black dog moments.

The story is that today I am able to get through periods I call the black dog, surrounded with people who understand. People who may also have been touched by their own black dog.
I take each day as it comes and say to myself "feeling blue", "don't be scared" and "it will pass".

One Black Dog is lose in the North West. It could be in the hills, or it could be in the gutter. Keep your eyes open for it and report its findings. 

Fables - A Film Opera
Thursday 30th June at the Zion Arts Centre 
I'm going to see this, and I can't wait

‘Streetwise Opera is something else. It teases, surprises, takes risks, and tackles the unexpected… it lures you where you haven’t been before and sends you home enriched.’ Independent
What's a Dying Man got to Sing About?
An intesting awareness raising project by the Motor Neurone Disease Association 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VII

Now that I've explained the importance of food reward to obesity, and you're tired of reading about it, it's time to share my ideas on how to prevent and perhaps reverse fat gain.  First, I want to point out that although food reward is important, it's not the only factor.  Heritable factors (genetics and epigenetics), developmental factors (uterine environment, childhood diet), lifestyle factors (exercise, sleep, stress) and dietary factors besides reward also play a role.  That's why I called this series "a dominant factor in obesity", rather than "the dominant factor in obesity".
Read more »

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Drug Cessation and Weight Gain

Commenter "mem", who has been practicing healthcare for 30+ years, made an interesting remark that I think is relevant to this discussion:
Recovering substance dependent people often put on lots of weight and it is not uncommon for them to become obese or morbidly obese.
This relates to the question that commenter "Gunther Gatherer" and I have been pondering in the comments: can stimulating reward pathways through non-food stimuli influence body fatness?  

It's clear that smoking cigarettes, taking cocaine and certain other pleasure drugs suppress appetite and can prevent weight gain.  These drugs all activate dopamine-dependent reward centers, which is why they're addictive.  Cocaine in particular directly inhibits dopamine clearance from the synapse (neuron-neuron junction), increasing its availability for signaling.
Read more »

Blasting and Bombardiering...

A National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing
A big thank you to everyone who came back to me with comments, ideas and suggestions around the REPORT on these national developments that were posted last month. I’ll be posting the slightly re-worked recommendations shortly and for now just wanted to tell you that at the meeting we agreed a few significant points. To avoid being London-centric, Chairing of the meeting will be rotational and undertaken by regional representatives. We are going to undertake a series of regional events to further stimulate debate and engagement and feed into a Charter for Arts and Health. This in part, will build on the groundswell of interest generated through the  m a n i f e s t o work.

Having worked with a huge cross-section of people across the North West Region on the m a n i f e s t o, next week sees the coming together of lots of these ideas and the beginning of the next stage, where words and thoughts come together to influence action. I’ll be working closely with international visitors who are contributing to the process and particularly with Pioneer Projects at the Looking Well to transform some of our ideas into art forms.

Alison Clough (Jones)
Head-to-Head in Arts and Health
This free event is fully booked and you should have received notification of your place by now. Sorry to anyone who’s on the waiting list. A summary of the event will be put online.

Music in Hospitals
An exciting new concert series is taking place in these hospitals in central Manchester. It will showcase musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music and from Music in Hospitals. The concerts will take place on the first Wednesday of each month for six months from June 2011 within the various hospital atrium spaces between 11am -12.30pm. Please drop in at any time for a mid-week boost of beautiful live music! 6th July 2011 11am Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital Robin Sunflower Duo (Music in Hospitals) Harmonica & guitar. 3rd August 2011 11am Royal Eye Hospital Astrum Guitar Duo (RNCM). 7th September 2011 11am Saint Marys Hospital Oscar Bernhardt Ensemble, Charleston Charlies (Music in Hospitals). 5th October 2011 11am Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital Deli Babies (RNCM) The two RNCM musicians in residence at Manchester Childrens Hospital. 2nd November 2011 11am Royal Eye Hospital Kora Melody (RNCM) West African songs.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VI

Reward Centers can Modify the Body Fat Setpoint

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical that signals between neurons) that is a central mediator of reward and motivation in the brain.  It has been known for decades that dopamine injections into the brain suppress food intake, and that this is due primarily to its action in the hypothalamus, which is the main region that regulates body fatness (1).  Dopamine-producing neurons from reward centers contact neurons in the hypothalamus that regulate body fatness (2).  I recently came across a paper by a researcher named Dr. Hanno Pijl, from Leiden University in the Netherlands (3).  The paper is a nice overview of the evidence linking dopamine signaling with body fatness via its effects on the hypothalamus, and I recommend it to any scientists out there who want to read more about the concept.
Read more »

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pandemic, Outside In, Head to Head, Print Auction, Artists needed and a 'flawed passion.'

Asia Europe Foundation... 

Some of you will know that I’ve been involved with the Asia Europe Foundation exploring approaches to Pandemic Preparedness. Some of the work is emerging online which you can find here:

Outside In
2012 Launch Plans are afoot to release the Outside In open art competition for marginalised artists to the waiting world out there......We will be launching during the Spring 2011 and our ambassadors will be out there promoting the cause across the country during the year. If you want to be involved, if you are an artist or know of artists, if you would like to host an exhibtion, offer a workshop or just find out more - get in touch!
You can either email us: or call: 07735568531 or to never miss a trick register for our bulletins:

Head to Head
Whilst the Head to Head event at MMU is fully booked, we are operating a reserve list for any cancellations that take place between now and the 30th.

On Thursday 30th June between 1:00 and 3:00 Arts for Health at MMU in collaboration with the Centre for Medical Humanities; Pioneer Projects and Open Art, will be hosting a once in a lifetime head-to-head, with some key international figures from the Arts and Health field. These include, amongst others Executive Director of Arts and Health Australia, Margret Meagher; Murdoch University's Dr Peter Wright; Executive Director of DADAA, David Doyle, Durban University of Technolgy's Professor Kate Wells and the Centre for Medical Humanities', Mike White.

UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre

Special Edition Print Auction in aid of the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre

Anthony Burrill
Tim Joss, '...a story of flawed passion.'
I'd be interested to know peoples thoughts on this article.

Tate Liverpool and Mersey Care NHS Mental Health Trust Artist Recruitment
Tate Liverpool and Merseycare NHS Trust are seeking to recruit a specialist pool of artists/practitioners with at least three years experience in working within arts and mental healthcare settings. The artist will be expected to take on the role of facilitator/co-producer of the art works/interventions with service users, by working directly in consultation with adult and older adult service-users to inform and influence the design and outcome of future creativity and artworks. It is crucial that artists are able to work collaboratively and co-operatively with NHS professionals on and off site.
The next phase of activity will focus on environments as a theme and will involve transforming internal social spaces on the wards where service-users interact, socialise and eat. It is hoped that such interventions will alter the mood and feel of each space, encouraging service-users to exercise choice and control over their immediate environment. The theme of environments, (imagined, real and invented), will be explored through a devised programme of visual arts workshops that will take place within mental health care settings, but where appropriate service-users will be encouraged to visit Tate Liverpool.

Tate’s collections and special exhibitions will be used as stimulus/inspiration to inform the work, starting with Tate Liverpool’s summer exhibition ‘Magritte’ continuing with ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Turner, Monet, Twombly’ in 2012.

For more information and an artist’s brief please contact:
Alison Jones Tel: 0151 702 7454 Email:

The closing date for the return of applications is Thursday 30 June 2011 by 5.00 pm. Interviews will be held on Monday 11 July 2011.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Head to Head update; Case Studies; Boxed In; AfH Visiting Research Fellow and some thoughts on Melancholia

UPDATE on the free Head to Head event at MMU on Thursday 30th June
This event is part of the Critical Mass events being delivered with partners at the Centre for Medical Humanities, Pioneer Projects and Open Art and is open to people across the Northern Region. As we have limited places and are oversubscribed, we will be allocating places in the order we received them. Please note that we hope to contact everyone who’s shown interest next week, with details of venue and time if applicable.
Thanks everyone for your interest. 

Call for case studies on how culture and sport have helped tackle the social determinants of health - Deadline Friday 17 June 2011
LG Improvement and Development is commissioning a further series of case studies on how services supported by local government can help improve health and reduce health inequalities by tackling the social determinants of health. This time the case studies will focus on culture and sport. So if you have any good practice examples of health benefits arising from social, economic or environmental improvements as a result of arts, museums, libraries, heritage, outdoor recreation, sport or leisure activity, we would like to hear from you.

We’re interested in changes in the various factors that determine people’s behaviour and act as barriers to healthy living. They could be improvements in early child development and education, employment and working conditions, the built environment, social inclusion and social mobility. Examples could range from culture and sport activity that improves health in the workplace, gets young people into education or enables the development of social skills and networks. As long as you have evidence that the changes in behaviour resulting from participation in cultural or sporting activity have led to improvements in health, you may have just what we’re looking for.

The purpose of the case studies is to show decision-makers the value of culture and sport to health and wellbeing, and encourage more commissioning of cultural and sporting activity.
Please send a short summary of your potential case study and contact details to  or call 01827 714733.

We’ll follow up the selected case studies in more detail in July.
SUBMISSION DATE: by Friday 17 June 2011
For case studies published last year including on regulatory, planning and transport services see 
BOXED IN presents work from The Big Painting project by the Art to Life groups and other selected work from separate projects and groups across Manchester. Art to Life are weekly art and life skills groups for learning disabled adults from Manchester. During the week of the exhibition Art to Life groups will be holding their regular sessions in and responding to BLANKSPACE.

Click on the image below for more details.

Royal Society for Public Health
Arts and Health Awards
The Royal Society for Public Health Arts and Health Awards marking significant contributions to research and practice in the field of Arts and Health are now in their fourth year. Previous awards have recognised excellent work in the fields of music and health, arts and mental health and arts and health inequalities.

This year, the awards will recognise important contributions of outreach programmes undertaken by arts organisations (e.g. theatre companies, orchestras, opera companies, museums, art galleries, dance companies) to the wellbeing and health of their local communities. The award will recognize substantial achievements in:
  • Innovative initiatives undertaken by arts organisations to foster health and wellbeing in healthcare and community settings
  • Original contributions to research and evaluation focused on the contributions of music and arts organisations to health and wellbeing in healthcare and community settings
More details at: 

Visiting Research Fellow at Arts for Health
I am thrilled to announce, that Dr langley Brown has been awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at Arts for Health and he'll be dedicating much of his time to the huge Arts/Health archive. I'll look forward to people meeting Langley. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part V

Non-industrial diets from a food reward perspective

In 21st century affluent nations, we have unprecedented control over what food crosses our lips.  We can buy nearly any fruit or vegetable in any season, and a massive processed food industry has sprung up to satisfy (or manufacture) our every craving.  Most people can afford exotic spices and herbs from around the world-- consider that only a hundred years ago, black pepper was a luxury item.  But our degree of control goes even deeper: over the last century, kitchen technology such as electric/gas stoves, refrigerators, microwaves and a variety of other now-indispensable devices have changed the way we prepare food at home (Megan J. Elias.  Food in the United States, 1890-1945). 

To help calibrate our thinking about the role of food reward (and food palatability) in human evolutionary history, I offer a few brief descriptions of contemporary hunter-gatherer and non-industrial agriculturalist diets.  What did they eat, and how did they prepare it? 
Read more »