Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Onward

In upcoming posts, I plan to pursue two main themes.  The first is a more comprehensive exploration of what determines eating behavior in humans, the neurobiology behind it, and the real world implications of this research.  The reward and palatability value of food are major factors, but there are others, and I've spent enough time focusing on them for the time being.  Also, the discussions revolving around food reward seem to be devolving into something that resembles team sports, and I've had my fill.

The second topic I'm going to touch on is human evolutionary history, including amazing recent insights from the field of human genetics.  These findings have implications for the nutrition and health of modern humans. 

I look forward to exploring these topics, and others, with all of you in the coming months.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Recent Media Appearances

Men's Health interviewed and quoted me in an article titled "Reprogram Your Metabolism", written by Lou Schuler.  Part of the article was related to the food reward concept.  I'm glad to see the idea gradually reaching the mainstream. 

Boing Boing recently covered an article by Dr. Hisham Ziauddeen and colleagues in Nature Reviews Neuroscience that questioned the idea that common obesity represents food addiction-- an idea that I often encounter in my reading.  Maggie Koerth-Baker asked me if I wanted to respond.  I sent her a response explaining that I agree with the authors' conclusions and I also doubt obesity is food addiction per se, as I have explained in the past, although a subset of obese people can be addicted to food.  I explained that the conclusions of the paper are consistent with the idea that food reward influences fat mass.  You can find my explanation here.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fur Coat and No Knickers, The BOMB, an International Arts and Health Conference and The Queen...

FCnK
It's Olympic year, and as the UK gears up for the 'ultimate national well-being campaign' and we invest millions of pounds in sports and culture, we are constantly told that the arts are a force for good, nurturing civic pride and engendering happiness. But is the drive for happiness in danger of skewing our understanding of well-being, and whilst we lavish money on the Olympics in a time of global austerity, some of us question the prescription of culture for happiness - aren't the arts more than that? 


And if they offer something more than a quick-hit, how is it that the quality of life of our older citizens is often institutionally neglected; worse still, those affected by dementia are relegated to 'warehouses of the dying'? This essay explores the relationship between art in the public realm and well-being. Clive Parkinson investigates public art's sometimes superficiality and its occasional potential to question societal norms, with blistering potency.
Read the paper by clicking on the image below:


EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
ARTS & HEALTH: A GLOBAL VIEW
Society for the Arts in Healthcare's
23rd Annual International Conference
Hosted by Children's Hospital of Michigan 
May 2-5, 2012 Detroit, Michigan, USA 
Experience the opportunity to immerse yourself in arts & health; best practices, model programs, and cutting-edge research. Click on image below.


MELANIE WILSON and FUEL present AUTOBIOGRAPHER
Combining a poetic text and a bold, electrifying score for voice and sound, Autobiographer draws us into Flora’s slowly unravelling mind. In a tender and lyrical performance, fragments of stories and pulses of memory build layer upon layer into a curious, evocative portrait of a life refracted through the lens of dementia.

more details @ http://www.artsadmin.co.uk/events/3033  


THE BOMB...
As our Arts/Health agenda comes of age, our work is increasingly being seen as more than addressing morbidity in the individual. This is illustrated perfectly by the environmental, social and political health issues tackled by Tricycle Theatre in,  The Bomb, a partial history (in two parts)...



THE QUEEN
For those of you who missed the feverish bunting waving across Manchester on Friday, you may not have noticed we had a Queen in town. Not Russell Grant but Elizabeth herself, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, when she opened Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Saint Mary's Hospital and a new wing at Manchester Royal Infirmary. The work of our colleagues at LIME featured heavily on this visit. The Queen unveiled the Lime commissioned glass designs by artist Martin Donlin.
Patients and staff at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music, (RNCM) Music for Health programme and artist Dawn Prescott from LIME also collaborated to create Diamonds, feathers and saxophones – from the Children’s Hospital, a new composition for The Queen.


Steven Jackson, who graduated from the RNCM last year, then incorporated the children’s rhythms, textures and shapes within the music he has written, and Dawn used their pictures and sculptures in the design of a book, containing the score and beautifully bound by Artisan Bookbinder Andrew Brown, which was presented to The Queen during her visit.  The final one-minute piece was performed to the monarch by the RNCM’s Absolution Saxophone Quartet: Anthony Brown, Jennifer Palfreyman, Spencer Moran and Fraser Johnstone.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Food Reward: Approaching a Scientific Consensus

Review papers provide a bird's-eye view of a field from the perspective of experts.  Recent review papers show that many obesity researchers are converging on a model for the development of obesity that includes excessive food reward*, in addition to other factors such as physical inactivity, behavioral traits, and alterations in the function of the hypothalamus (a key brain region for the regulation of body fatness).  Take for example the four new review papers I posted recently by obesity and reward researchers:
Read more »

Monday, March 19, 2012

Speaking at AHS12

I'll be giving a 40 minute presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium this summer titled "Digestive Health, Inflammation and the Metabolic Syndrome".  Here's the abstract:
The “metabolic syndrome” is a cluster of health problems including abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation, high blood pressure and blood lipid abnormalities that currently affects one third of American adults.  It is the quintessential modern metabolic disorder and a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.  This talk will explore emerging links between diet, gut flora, digestive health and the development of the metabolic syndrome.  The audience will learn about factors that may help maintain digestive and metabolic health for themselves and the next generation.
Excessive fat mass is an important contributor to the metabolic syndrome, but at the same level of body fatness, some people are metabolically normal while others are extremely impaired.  Even among obese people, most of whom have the metabolic syndrome, about 20 percent are metabolically normal, with normal fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity, normal blood pressure, normal circulating inflammatory markers, and normal blood lipids.

What determines this?  Emerging research suggests that one factor is digestive health, including the bacterial ecosystem inside each person's digestive tract, and the integrity of the gut barrier.  I'll review some of this research in my talk, and leave the audience with actionable information for maintaining gastrointestinal and metabolic health.  Most of this information will not have been covered on this blog.

The Ancestral Health Symposium will be from August 9-12 at Harvard Law School in Boston, presented in conjunction with the Harvard Food Law society.  Tickets are currently available-- get them before they sell out!  Last year, they went fast.

See you there!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Women's Health Choices, Loneliness, Binge Drinking, 2 Dance Opportunities and more...

CARTOONS and WOMEN'S HEALTH CHOICES
Thinking about the reach of the arts on public health, often results in ‘nanny state’ productions that often leave the target audience feeling either patronised, or humiliated. Popular culture however, has the power to engage with hot political issues and reach huge numbers of people. Amid heated debate about pre-termination ultrasound laws in the USA, cartoonist, Garry Trudeau has decided to take on the abortion wars head-on in his cartoon strip Doonesbury, which, because of its contentious subject matter for Americans in election year, has been pulled from several newspapers. In an interview with the Washington Post, Trudeau commented:
‘I chose the topic of compulsory sonograms because it was in the news and because of its relevance to the broader battle over women's health currently being waged in several states. For some reason, the GOP has chosen 2012 to re-litigate reproductive freedom, an issue that was resolved decades ago. Why [Rick] Santorum, [Rush] Limbaugh et al. thought this would be a good time to declare war on half the electorate, I cannot say. But to ignore it would have been comedy malpractice.’
To read more of this interview with Trudeau, click on the cartoon below. To see some of the  cartoon strips, click on the cartoon above!


ON LONELINESS 
Loneliness is as big a killer as smoking, obesity and alcohol, campaigners warned as they held the first major summit on loneliness last week.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced that councils, responsible for public health from April 2013, will be urged to conduct an audit of health and care services and identify how they can help reduce levels of isolation. Mr Burstow said: 

"Loneliness is the great unspoken public health issue. Research suggests it is more harmful to health than obesity and that there is a 50 per cent reduction in mortality if you have a strong social network. Research has shown that loneliness can be as harmful to your health as alcohol and tobacco, but we also know that people who have day- to-day contact live longer and healthier lives. The Government is working with the Campaign to End Loneliness to raise awareness about just how important even a simple phone call or visit can be to someone's health." Read the full article here.
Research published in 2006 from the American Sociological Review and based on surveys of 1,531 people in 1985 and 1,467 in 2004 show that in 1985, the average American had three people to whom they could confide matters that were important to them, but in 2004, that number dropped to two, and one in four had no close confidants at all. The same research illustrated the percentage of people who confide only in family increased from 57% to 80%, and the number of people who depend exclusively on a spouse is up from 5% to 9%. (Thanks CMG)


‘Americans have a third fewer close friends and confidants than just two decades ago — a sign that people may be living lonelier, more isolated lives than in the past.’'


For those of involved in the arts/health field, we know just how true this is and that engagement with culture and the arts can have a profound impact on anyone who is socially isolated. Of course the pleasure of friendship and solidarity is wonderful, but so to is the challenge and stimulation that the participatory arts offer. We mustn’t lose sight of the ever-changing political and social climate that we currently inhabit and if politicians are identifying the burgeoning issues associated with isolation, particularly amongst our older citizens, it’s an area we should be clear to assert both our role, and our potency.


And if you missed this in the weekend papers, there's an interesting piece of research that points to the 'dark side' of Facebook linking it and other social media platforms to socially aggressive narcissism, obsession with self-image and shallow friendships. Read it and weep, or laugh maniacally. (Thanks Dr S)



MANIFESTO
This week, the comment on manifesto part one, and the power of the arts for giving voice, comes from a friend and colleague in Kabul, artist Shamsia Hassani.
‘There are some unknown words in my mind: some unclear feeling in my heart which is removing me to an unknown world, the world that everyone is writing with their own inside alphabet. I call this world ART.’

Ommolbanin - Shamsia Hassani, Artist

To find out more about Ommolbanin and Freedom to Create, click on the image above.

TWO DANCE UPDATES...
DANCE CONVERSATIONS - THE HEALTH ISSUE
Fri, 23 Mar 2012
12.00 PM - 3.00 PM
Dance Conversations presents a free opportunity for Merseyside Dance artists and companies working in the field of dance and health and professionals from the health and social care to network and share ideas and practice and information on existing or future projects and research.


AUDITIONS - 
MALE AND FEMALE DANCERS REQUIRED 
This is an amazing opportunity for 12 North West Graduates and Artists.
Auditions for the FIRST EVER North West Graduate Dance Company

INFO - Supported by Arts Council England, NWGDC will create original and exciting work to tour the region and will offer training in Teaching and Learning as well as develop Business and Entrepreneurial skills to support a career in dance.

AUDITION DATES - Auditions are Saturday 14 April 2012 at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk and Sunday 15 April at The Lowry, Salford Quays.
Applicants will be required from 10.00am until 6.00pm DEVISING - Based at Edge Hill University, the first devising process to create new work with  Alesandra Seutin begins  Monday 28 May until Sunday 10 June  2012.  The second devising with Gary Clarke and Antonia Grove begins Monday 20 August until Saturday 25 August 2012. 

TOURING - Rehearsals and tour begin September 2012 and run until beginning of December  2012. Please note that successful applicants will be required for additional rehearsal dates which will be confirmed before the audition.

INTERNSHIPS - Internships are scheduled for Spring 2013. These will provide company members with work based learning opportunities.

WHO CAN APPLY? - Anyone who has graduated since 2007 with a degree in Dance
or an appropriate degree in Performing Arts .   All applicants must live in
the North West of England. All applicants MUST be available during the above periods for devising, touring and internships.

DEADLINE - Deadline for applications is 12.00 mid-day, Friday 23 March 2012

WHAT TO DO NEXT - For more information and an application pack please contact Gil Wilson-Graystone, Project Manager at Gil.Wilson@edgehill.ac.uk 

VOCAB dance video  

EARLY HUMAN SYMBOLS 


Did stone age cave women and men talk to each other in symbols? This is a fascinating article bringing together research around the symbols that adorn many cave paintings. Click on the image for more. Beautiful and resonating across time.

BINGE BRITAIN AND THE ARTS
An excellent article by Alice Jones in the Independent exploring alcohol in contemporary culture, and how two theatre companies have used the arts to tell an all to familiar story.
‘Last summer, the performance artist Bryony Kimmings locked herself in a warehouse in Bethnal Green, east London and got drunk for a week. Not for fun, you understand, but in the name of art: her aim was to explore the links between intoxication and creativity, or to find out whether she was a better artist when she was drunk.’ (7 Day Drunk)
‘The Paper Birds trawled the pubs and clubs of London and Leeds to find the raw material for their latest show, Thirsty. They set up a hotline, printed up business cards with the words "Are you drunk? Call this number" and used the voicemails they received as the inspiration for their play about young women and binge drinking, performed to a shouty soundtrack of karaoke classics on a set made out of toilet cubicles.’ (Thirsty)

'Thirsty', touring to 2 April (thepaperbirds.com); '7 Day Drunk', to 31 March, Soho Theatre, London, then touring to 26 May (bryonykimmings.com)


...and finally, in a spirit of high self-esteem and Facebook-induced, deluded, dance-flavoured blogging, here is Gene Kelly tap dancing on roller-skates. What better start to our week? Life is good...C.P.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Qsymia (formerly Qnexa), the Latest Obesity Drug

There are very few obesity drugs currently approved for use in the US-- not because effective drugs don't exist, but because the FDA has judged that the side effects of existing drugs are unacceptable. 

Although ultimately I believe the most satisfying resolution to the obesity epidemic will not come from drugs, drugs offer us a window into the biological processes that underlie obesity and fat loss.  Along those lines, here's a quote from a review paper on obesity drugs that I think is particularly enlightening (1):
Read more »

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Call to NW Artists, Ah Kong, Studentship, Funding and Pearly Kings and Queens...


CALLING NORTH WEST ARTS AND HEALTH NETWORK PRACTITIONERS TO DEMONSTRATE THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE ARTS TO WELL-BEING!

HEALTHGAIN 2012  Event & Showcase  
21 March at Piccadilly Place 4 Manchester
12.30 for lunch until 4,30pm

North West Arts and Health Network members are invited to attend and showcase at this exciting event. Arts and Health practitioners Helena Edwards and Christine Simms will be coordinating the creativity element of this event on 21 March and would welcome input from other network members who can make a contribution and also enjoy the fabulous range of taster sessions and workshops. 

The creativity unlocked by integrating arts and healthcare is key to empowering patients, improving health outcomes and overall quality of care and reduced costs and there is a growing body of research evidence demonstrating that the arts can lower blood pressure, reduce patients use of analgesic medication and length of hospital stays as well as improving compliance with recommended treatments.
Demonstrate the potential of arts in healthcare using objects of art and the creative process as a catalyst to enhance physical, mental and emotional recovery and help give meaning to our lives. Showcase your work in integrating a range of artistic genres into community and healthcare settings to humanise the health system, help clinicians connect to their patients (the people behind the conditions!)  and demonstrate the power of the art sto connect people with the power of creativity at key moments in their lives for therapeutic and expressive purposes.
Healthgain2012 Event & Showcase

In attendance will be a range of representatives from NHS organisations who are seeking innovative inspiration in order to 'Make every contact with patients and communities count' . There will be an excellent workshop (1.30-2.30pm) that you can attend where 20 plus NHS projects will showcase their current work and, led by an Appreciative Inquiry facilitator, will learn from one another as well as think outside of the box in order learn from outside their field.
Be part of a Northern Healthgain Learning Community. Highlight the positive impact of 'arts in healthcare' and recovery.
Please contact Chris WITHOUT DELAY to discuss what you can bring to the party and to book your place at this exciting event simmschristine@hotmail.com


AH KONG  [阿公] - A SHORT FILM ON DEMENTIA BY ROYSTON TAN
"A favourite grandson attempts to restore his grandfather’s ailing memory. A famous chicken seller, a charming dancer and a ladies’ man… this is what his grandfather used to be, before he was diagnosed with dementia. However it’s not the past his grandfather forgets. In fact, it’s all he can remember. What he has forgotten is how to live in the present." I receive a lot of links to films relating to dementia and I wonder what you think about this?


CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S HEALTH OUTCOMES CONSULTATION
A big thanks to Lilli Brodner-Francis, Music for Health Project Manager at the RNCM for drawing my attention to this. The Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum is gathering views on the health outcomes that matter most for children and young people and how the different parts of the health system will work together to deliver these. The consultation focuses on four areas in particular: acutely ill children; mental health; children with disabilities; and long-term conditions public health. It would be fantastic if we could all talk about the benefits of music making and other art activities for children in healthcare settings in this consultation by the Department of Health.

It closes on 30th April 2012.


ARTS AND HEALTH STUDENTSHIP
Although this specific studentship isn’t managed by Arts for Health, it is something I would strongly support. Proposals are invited that explore how participation and participatory processes within arts make a difference to individual and community well-being. Full details at http://www.mmu.ac.uk/research/studentships/socialsci.php

STARICOFF and CLIFT
From the pen of Staricoff and Clift, comes the latest update on the medical literature between 2004 and 2011. Arts and Music in Healthcare at the Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity.


GUYS AND ST THOMAS’S CHARITY
And another piece of news from das capital, is the appointment of Nikki Crane to Head of Arts Strategy at the Guys and St Thomas’s Charity. Nikki has been Head of Social Inclusion at Arts Council England, where she led work on arts and criminal justice and arts in health. We wish Nikki well in this exciting new role that places the arts at the centre of the charity’s vision. 


TWO FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
The Lankelly Chase Foundation has announced that it is inviting applications from arts based organisations through their Arts Programme.  Through this programme the trustees are focussing their grant making on three specific areas: promoting the use of the arts by people with severe mental ill health: encouraging vulnerable young people to participate in arts activities: helping young artists to pursue a career in the arts (this programme is currently closed to external applications).

Grants awarded are generally between £10,000 and £15,000 a year. In some exceptional cases the fund will consider larger grants. The foundation will only consider applications from registered charities, industrial and provident societies, exempt charities and community interest companies or organisations applying for charitable status.  Applications can be submitted at any time. For more information click: http://www.lankellychase.org.uk/programmes/2

The Allan & Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust is open to charitable organisations that support the promotion of education, international friendship and understanding as well as world peace and development. The Trust seeks to fund projects that have an educational aim, element or content. Applications for core funding or the construction of buildings in the UK will not be considered. However, the trust will consider to fund aid projects overseas such as; water treatment, food and medical supplies or the provision of basic facilities that are the pre-requisite of an educational or development initiative.

Applications from organisations for grants of up to £50,000 can be made at any time. For larger grants, applications will be considered in March and October each year. For more information visit: http://www.fergusontrust.co.uk/who.php

THE LAST WEEK OF CONSULTATION ON  
M A N I F E S T O Part One   



"The arts and health manifesto is a love filled slap in the face of consumerist society. It brandishes our interconnectedness like a sword, calling for cutting through, teasing out, writing and re writing ourselves until we get closer to getting it right. It's about Social justice, about joined up thinking, its about a courage we fear might not happen in our lifetime.

It says - Stand up! Be fair! Be kind! Show respect! Risk it all! Get a grip! Have a laugh! go on I dare you....It challenges us to take personal action and taunts us with the promise of a better world if we can treasure others as we treasure ourselves.

It is at once bleak and hopeful, a troubled text searching for answers, asking questions and promising nothing if we don't start working (creatively) together.
It is a starting point. It faces us towards the global revolution we simply cant afford not to have." Jami Bladel CEO/Artistic Director, KickStart Arts

A little song for the week ahead, by the underrated Darkstar...C.P


Friday, March 9, 2012

Boing!

I just had a featured article published on Boing Boing, "Seduced by Food: Obesity and the Human Brain".  Boing Boing is the most popular blog on the Internet, with over 5 million unique visitors per month, and it's also one of my favorite haunts, so it was really exciting for me to be invited to submit an article.  For comparison, Whole Health Source had about 72,000 unique visitors last month (200,000+ hits).

The article is a concise review of the food reward concept, and how it relates to the current obesity epidemic.  Concise compared to all the writing I've done on this blog, anyway.  I put a lot of work into making the article cohesive and understandable for a somewhat general audience, and I think it's much more effective at explaining the concept than the scattered blog posts I've published here.  I hope it will clear up some of the confusion about food reward.  I don't know what's up with the image they decided to use at the top. 

Many thanks to Mark Frauenfelder, Maggie Koerth-Baker, and Rob Beschizza for the opportunity to publish on Boing Boing, as well as their comments on the draft versions!

For those who have arrived at Whole Health Source for the first time via Boing Boing, welcome!   Have a look around.  The "labels" menu on the sidebar is a good place to start-- you can browse by topic.

Monday, March 5, 2012

RICHARD CREME at MMU, Creature Tales and the Rebel Clown Army...


RICHARD CREME
Last summer I had the opportunity to meet up with Chris Larkin from The Stroke Association (UK), to talk over the relevance of the arts in relation to stroke. It wasn’t an area I had any great expertise in, other than personal experience within my family. Chris and I arranged to meet up at the City Gallery in Manchester and have a coffee to discuss ways we might work together.

A couple of days before the meeting, he got in touch to ask if he could bring someone along who he had recently met and who was producing work that I might be interested in. This seemed a great idea, and on the day of the meeting, I’d got there nice and early, because it was the middle of the Manchester International Festival (MIF), so I’d secured a table in the gallery cafe and was contentedly people-watching, settled down with a strong coffee.

The clock was ticking, and as I didn’t know Chris, I wasn’t quite sure who to be looking for amidst all the monochrome of the stylish MIF set. However, I soon spotted the artist that Chris was accompanying, a figure from my younger years (before I’d a family and still had money), who I’d secretly aspired to emulate! This was Richard Creme, of L’Homme and then the self-named, Richard Creme - the most elegant men’s boutiques in Manchester; the most charismatic, (and if I’m being doubly-honest) tall and immaculately dressed owner. I’m six foot three, and Richard is head and shoulders taller than me and far, far more elegant.

So I’m sitting calmly, waiting to meet Chris, when in walks this Manchester icon, and he is the artist, he is the man that has had a stroke and has come out of the other side, with something new, something that has fundamentally changed him and the way he sees the world.

Over the next couple of hours, Richard, Chris, Lorraine Longmore, (Communication Support Co-ordinator) and I, look through a portfolio of work he’s produced since he had the stroke nearly 4 years ago, a stroke that’s affected the right hand side of his body, but more frustratingly, has taken away his ability for word-finding and speech, leaving him with all the thoughts and ideas, but unable to converse in sentences. More often than not Richard gestures, his great arms grabbing hold of me, and his booming voice repeating ‘why’, to the things he wants to say. Imagine the scene; the great and good of cultural Manchester gathered to hob-knob, with their canapés and thoughts on art; and a small gathering, centered around the largest of characters, who with consistent style, spreads out the most astounding selection of drawings and paintings, as we begin to share the significance of his work.


Lorraine and Chris, help me understand a little about what Richard has been through, and that following his stroke, he was, as you can imagine, at rock-bottom. Richard has subsequently expressed that he felt so depressed, he would most certainly have considered suicide, but for Lorraine's support to nurture the discovery of his creativity. This is powerful stuff. Our table is easily the most animated in these genteel surroundings.

Before I see the first images he’s created, there is a powerful smell of ink, and not some fine printers ink, but the smell of ink that I remember from school exams, the ink of a biro. Opening these first pages in one of the completed sketchbooks, was sensate and riveting. This was a man, who hadn’t turned his hand to the arts since his school days. In front of me were the most dense and heavily worked drawings, produced from photographs and other artists images, but in blue biro. Some so meticulously over-worked that he’d patched up the other side of the paper, where he’d scratched through. Hours and hours of work and fine draughtsmanship in each piece.

But these drawings, often of celebrities who had frequented his boutique, were only the start of things, and provided an elegant time-line of a man refining his skills, which moved through different mediums and took on more startling subject matter. A group of drawings of the hand; a series of self-portraits and portraits of his wife Shelley; a collection of images in washed out grey of the photographer and one-time friend and collaborator, Norman Parkinson; abstract patterns in vivid colour and stark, but elegant headless human bodies.


Without much hesitation, we discussed how we might exhibit some of the work, and Richard very animatedly let us know that this was exactly what he wanted! With bear-hugs and much passion, we agreed we’d meet again and make it happen.

Exploring potential gallery spaces in public buildings like the Whitworth, City, or Platt Hall appealed, but could take forever to organise, and talking with the curators of the Link Gallery at MMU, Elisa Artesero and Roger Bygott, it quickly became apparent that we had the expertise and passion to curate an exhibition, sooner rather than later, that would put a marker down in the trajectory of Richard Creme’s work.

We’ve met again a few times since that first meeting, and Richard and Shelley are a joy to work with. Both passionate, creative and full of excitement at the possibility of pulling off this first show. They tease me mercilessly about my clothes, Richard eyes me up and down each time we meet, (rubber mac, not good, looks like the gimp...corduroys, tut, tut). It was a lovely treat for them to make contact with an old friend John Walsh who had worked on numerous projects with Richard over 10 years and who now works at MMU in graphic design, and who’s helping out with some of the design around publicity and a catalogue too.

So the exhibition is planned. Between 1st and 11th May, at the Link Gallery at MMU and it’s going to be called, Richard Creme and it’ll be a brilliant thing. It will be a show about one man, and his life. It will reflect something of him and no doubt, be open to all sorts of interpretation. It’s happening during Action on Stroke Month, so yes, we hope that we can all learn more about stroke, but for me, this is about one man, his incredibly beautiful work, and how art has the potency to reach out to us at the most difficult of times, enabling the expression of frustration and anger on one hand, but liberating us and enabling us to flourish on the other.

Thank you to all those people freely collaborating on this exhibition.
'Richard is the king of style, the first person to bring the likes of Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and many more to Manchester.'


A BRIEF THOUGHT ON WHAT WE DO, 
and CLOWNS...
I’m reading Saturday by Ian McEwan at the moment, and last night I read this line, which considering our field of work, made me smile. This section of the book concerns a memory of the story’s protagonist, a neurosurgeon, who is reminiscing his, and his partners’ wondering around of a deserted section of the gallery, at the opening of Tate Modern...

‘Such was their wellbeing that even the sullen orthodoxies of conceptual art seemed part of the fun, like earnest displays of pupils’ work at a school open day.’

I love the irony that their wellbeing was so good, that even the art didn't cause damage to it. Spot on. 


I’ve also been grinning inanely at clowns this week. NOT CLOWNS, you shudder, the things of nightmares - not even our friends, the clown-doctors on this occasion, but the militant tendency of the Clown World, who had come to my attention via the excellent work of people involved in the Occupy movement. No, this is the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, yes, that’s The Rebel Clown Army, an altogether more 21st Century tomfoolery. You have to admit, you’re curious aren’t you? Power to the grease paint.


More tomfoolery and carnival mayhem? Well maybe not mayhem, but sensitive, compassionate and utterly compelling. This is a short film by Creature Tales, an arts organisation based in Tasmania and who I had the pleasure to hook up and hatch plans with, last year in Canberra. I very much hope to support Creature Tales and DADAA on some action research around the powerful impact of their work.


TWO THOUGHTS ON M A N I F E S T O
Our manifesto is almost upon us and I wonder, would you like to be involved in the final stages? I’m interested to hear from artists and free-thinkers of any persuasion, how we might share our ideas, those salient points - the core of our beliefs. So feel free to get in touch and remember, no idea could be too radical. I’m also interested to think about how we might share key thoughts from it, with people who would never get involved in this sort of work - the average person in the street, who makes no connection between art-society-wellbeing. So again, if you have any ideas about face-to-face conversation with people outside of our sometimes insular world, or those who would be outrightly antagonistic, get in touch. Thank you...C.P..