Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hidden Mothers, Artlines, Music, Money and more...

Looking up images of the niquab to enable a succinct contribution to the debate as to whether doctors and nurses should be able to wear the veil at work, I found myself rather distracted not by the usual images, but something I’d never seen or heard of before: HIDDEN MOTHERS. Good grief! In early photography, if the subject for the image was your squirming bundle of joy and poor old mamma was to be kept out of shot, the photographer would drape a suitable swatch of damask over her bonce! So - the resulting historical images are known as Hidden Mother Photographs. As to the ‘debate’ on the niquab, I’d much rather hear what the women involved think, rather than politicians and hacks putting disquiet in our minds where it never was in the first place. The molecular biologist and activist, Sahar Al Faifi at least talks about wearing the niquab, first hand and perhaps sets the scene less sensationally.

And with fleeting thoughts on misogyny in mind, news that Tony Abbott has appointed himself as minister for women's issues in a cabinet of 19, where there is as yet, one female minister, brings no surprises. I wonder if UKIP will offer the ludicrous MEP (‘’re all sluts’) ((Oh - and 'everybody laughed, including all the women.' Well that's alright then)) Godfrey Bloom to serve on Abbott’s crack team, I’m sure there’ll be some old post-colonial sabbatical opportunity for him. 

Back to Blighty and some excellent news from my colleague Langley Brown, to whom my biggest thanks.

Arts for Health and Special Collections at Manchester Metropolitan University have received an award from the Wellcome Trust to commission an archivist and a conservator to assess the extent and condition of archives relating to arts and health, and to make recommendations as to how best to preserve, link, develop and promote these collections.

This award follows an AHRC funded audit by Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt of archives held by organisations across Greater Manchester, and a UK national consultation by Arts for Health Research Fellow Dr Langley Brown as to the wishes of organisations with regard to any archives held. Those organisations who expressed appreciable interest in the archives project, and whose work is representative of the field, will form the first strand of a long-term project to link such archives worldwide, and to grow ARTLINES as an evolving timeline and family tree connecting culture, health, the arts and wellbeing across time and place, and among domains of knowledge and experience.

The time from today back to the expansion of the arts:health movement in the 70s and 80s represents a career span; this means that those who were involved at the beginning of this journey are approaching or have attained retirement age. Some have died. If we are to gather together the patchwork of histories that have formed the arts:health phenomenon, we must act quickly to ensure that the documentary evidence is preserved, coherently managed, and made accessible to researchers and public, whilst the pioneers are still around to help contextualise the material.

Those represented in this first phase of the archives project are the network of 13 Greater Manchester organisations including Arts for Health and Lime, the Centre for Medical Humanities at the University of Durham, Healing Arts Isle of Wight, and Artlink West Yorkshire. 

Archivist Judith Etherton and conservator Helen Lindsay will be based at Manchester Metropolitan University during November, and their report will inform the next phase of the ARTLINES project. If you’d like to know more about ARTLINES, email 

Music for Health has moved from the RNCM to become part of the award winning charity Lime, forming Lime Music for Health which will deliver a comprehensive music programme at Central Manchester University Hospitals. You can read more about this on Music for Health patron, Jules Holland.

With the continued support of the Charitable Funds Committee and a significant investment from Youth Music, the Music for Health team is now looking to recruit three new Apprentice Musicians to join a team of Experts (Ros Hawley, Mark Fisher and Holly Marland) and Mentors (Cecily Smith, Ruth Spargo and Tom Sherman) for the Medical Notes Programme which will run for 2 years at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. 

A description of the programme, the brief for Apprentices and application details are available on the Blog.

Esmée Fairbain Trust
Esmée Fairbairn aims to improve the quality of life throughout the UK. They do this by funding the charitable activities of organisations that have the ideas and ability to achieve change for the better. The Foundation like to consider work which others may find hard to fund, perhaps because it breaks new ground, appears too risky, requires core funding, or needs a more  unusual form of financial help such as a loan. They also take the initiative where new thinking is required or where we believe there are important unexplored opportunities. Main Funds are within four areas of interest – the arts, education and learning, the environment and enabling disadvantaged people to participate fully in society. They prioritise work that:
· Addresses a significant gap in provision
· Develops or strengthens good practice
· Challenges convention or takes a risk in order to address a difficult issue
· Tests out new ideas or practices
· Takes an enterprising approach to achieving its aims
· Sets out to influence policy or change behaviour more widely.
Application Deadlines: First stage applications can be made at any time, if successful applicants will be advised by the Foundation on how to proceed with the next stage. Full details of the application process can be accessed via the following link: 

British Academy Small Research Grants 
The British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences, has announced that it is planning to issue a call for a further round of Small Research Grants on the 4th September 2013. Under the Small Research Grants programme grants of between £500 and £10,000 over two years are available to support primary research in the humanities and social sciences. Funds will be available to:
· Facilitate initial project planning and development
· Support the direct costs of research
· To enable the advancement of research through workshops, or visits by or to partner scholars. The closing date for applications will be the 16th October 2013. Read more at: 

And finally, my massive thanks to the artist Sarah Lawton this week, who has helped me with a big NHS Modernisation project that I hope to reveal over the next few weeks.  

Thank you as ever for reading....C.P.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quark for Health...

A small blast from Italy
What a week! I AM: Art as an agent for change has seen the fourth partnership meeting in Pescara, Italy. As guests of the Italian health agency, FeDaSerD people from Pescara and Pistoia in Italy, from Kütahya in Turkey and from Liverpool and Manchester in the UK have begun designing an artists exchange between the three countries which will see a series of artist led workshops, exhibitions and symposium exploring culture and the arts in the addiction/recovery process.

I am thrilled to announce that we will be working with some quite outstanding international artists who each in their own way, have ploughed a unique furrow. Ali Zaidi (UK) will be pulling all the artists together and his work around food and our eating together, promises to excite and engage and be invaluable to the collaborative process. Cristina Nuñez through her beautiful and provocative photography, explores self-portraiture, creative identity and self-esteem - particularly through moments of crisis. Selda Asal is a film-maker who enables people to tell their stories in distinctive ways, often people marginalized by forces seemingly beyond their control. Leon Jakeman is an artist who constructs work that responds to his own experiences, stripping away original meaning and creating new identities in the materials he works with.

Unique and challenging, all of them - but working together to explore just how the arts might be central to the recovery process. I’m pleased to say that building on our Manifesto for arts/health/wellbeing, I will be working with all the artists and partners involved in this work, to develop a European Recovery Manifesto to be launched between July and September 2014. Think bill of rights, think what it is to be human, think again that, “standing on the world's summit we launch once again our insolent challenge to the stars!”

A big thanks goes to Nicoletta D’Alosio for being such a wonderful and generous host and to Giuseppe (Joe) D’Abruzzo who was the kindest and most giving of friends, even with advice on my own fragile health! And a HUGE thanks to Dr. Giovanni Cordova and all at LAAD for their warmth (and food)...and of course, the indefatigable Mark Prest.

Getting International in Arts and Health
Artists International Development Programme
The Artists' international development programme is a £750,000 fund, jointly funded by the British Council and Arts Council England. The programme offers early stage development opportunities for individual freelance and self-employed artists based in England to spend time building links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in another country. The next deadline for applications to the fund is 5pm Friday 4 October 2013.  Decisions made mid-November. Read more at: 

Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Grants Programme 
Organisations and schools in the UK that wish to develop links with Japan and Japanese schools are able to apply for funding through the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The Foundation makes small grants to support activities that support the study of the Japanese language and culture, School, Education and Youth exchanges. In the past the Foundation has made grants towards visits the between the UK and Japan between by teachers and young people and the teaching and development of Japanese language and cultural studies in schools.

It seems that the Australian media (well the Sunday Telegraph at least) were right in their almost prescient front-cover, which I reprint here for the sheer bliss of sharing an oh-so-subtle, unbiased, politically neutral 21st century press. I am thrilled to be speaking at the 5th International Arts and Health Conference in Sydney this year between 12 - 14 November and hosted this year, by the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. More details can be found by clicking on the Koalas below! To find out a little more about what I'll be speaking about, click on, fiction-non-fction.

On the joys of European working...
Driving from Pescara to Rome through the most outrageous landscape, I dwelt heavily on the week’s work. I’ve spent time with some remarkable people...exhausting, committed and wonderful people. My traveling companions this week have been a heady crew: Musical score by Bill Callahan (Smog), Knock Knock - Film and light entertainment provided by Frederick Wiseman, Titicut Follies and something light to read - Sarah Kane, Blasted and 4:48 Psychosis.

Melancholic by nature, I was lifted from my torpor and found myself near to hysteria by the strange charms of idyosyncratic translation. I’d recently been interviewed by the Turkish news channel, TRT - and probably talking much hyperbole and gibberish, they dubbed over me (if you speak Turkish, please tell me, what they said, that I said!!) So, throwing ego out of the window, I share with you a snippet of this interview and my new identity! Excuse the sweaty pallor and over-enthusiastic nature. Please note my full name and place in the universe.

Footnotes on Fundamental Cheese-Based Products...
A Quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. There are six types of quarks, known as Flavours: up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top! 

Quark is a type of fresh dairy product, made by warming soured milk until the desired degree of denaturation occurs. It is soft, white, unaged and curd-like.

Good grief...C.P.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


“MILLIONS of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants for obscure research projects - such as the role of public art in climate change - will be scrapped or redirected to find cures for dementia and other diseases as part of a Coalition crackdown on government waste.”

There’s a sentence to strike fear into our hearts eh? Sounds like histrionics? Well actually, its from the Australian press last week and preceded the ‘landslide’ victory of Tony Abbott as the new premier. Worrying times ahead eh? Great news that he’s going to find a ‘cure’ for dementia, but in the meantime, perhaps invest in some research around how arts and culture might just improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. Click on the apparition above to read the article.

A Small Scale Global Phenomenon
Working with colleagues across the UK and more recently in Lithuania, Italy and Turkey, I've had the opportunity to begin to understand some of the complexities of working in the arts and health field across different cultures and in different languages. This podcast is a version of a paper that I gave as the opening address to the Art of Good Health and Wellbeing International Arts and Health Conference, in Australia 2012. This was work that I had been developing in Lithuania (in Menas Žmogaus Gerovei) and which I presented at the first UK Arts and Health Research Network seminar at the University of Nottingham in March 2013. More recently, I worked this up into a journal article (Inequalities, the arts and public health: towards an international conversation) with Mike White for Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice. This podcast then, is an early iteration of these thoughts. If you find it too turgid listening to my ramblings, let me know and I’ll send you a pdf.

Arts Council England (ACE) Guidelines in Paying Artists
ACE has issued some handy guidelines for all applicants to their GfA lottery grant programmes on information on rates of pay for artists. The guidelines are available by clicking on the typology above:

As far as I can see, their key piece of advice is: “Following a ruling by the Office of Fair Trading on competition law, we are not able to offer guidelines on rates of pay for artists.”

If you find this sage advice a little too benign, I suggest shouting from the rooftops - I WANT A DECENT LIVING WAGE! Perhaps then, my advice isn’t to click on the not-so-ace guidance, but go for the jugular instead.

BLAST TWO ( B A N G ) - Why not read the excellent David Pledger’s, Re-Valuing the Artist in the New World Order published by Currency House. Here’s a taster, but click on the book cover below for more details.

“What is the real value we put on our artists? The author examines the long-awaited National Cultural Policy and finds it offers much to praise but fails ‘to penetrate the lower depths wherein the independent artists hang out’. His paper addresses the problems and achievements of the independent artist and their role as outriders of the arts, sometimes so far ahead they are out of mind. What kind of an industry do we work in, he asks, when its primary producers live on or below the poverty line? What would happen if artists decided that they would no longer work under these conditions? Pledger proposes action to find out.”

OK - a pause for some uplifting music, because music can remind us, life is beautiful...

Department of Health Innovation, Excellence & Strategic Development Fund (England)
The Department of Health (DOH) has announced that its 2014-15 Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund (IESD) is now open for applications. The fund is open to not for profit organisations that are be carrying out activities that involve  providing a service similar to a service provided by the National Health Service or by local authority social services.  The Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund (IESD) provides funding to support proposals in the health and care field, supporting projects with the potential for national impact in line with DH objectives of better health and wellbeing and better care for all. Organisations can apply individually, or in partnership with others. All proposals under this Fund will need to demonstrate they will have a national impact. The closing date for applications is 12 noon on the 25th October 2013. Read more at:

Can I recommend something? Am I allowed?
"nous magazine is a Manchester based publication dealing with contemporary philosophy. If you look up the word nous in your dictionary it will tell you that the ‘nous’ is necessary for understanding what is true or real. It is the processes working within us - our mind or our soul. nous is taking its readers on a journey to a land we may never completely understand even though it lies within us. A land we often pay no attention to in our hectic everyday life. What do we care about? What is really important to us? How do we share our compassion with the ones around us? We believe that dealing with our fears and hopes in a creative way and being more conscious of this part of ourselves can not only help prevent and deal mental health issues but also make living in our society easier. We give young creatives of all fields a platform to present their work addressing the nous but also will make mind culture gain centre stage again. nous is published quarterly with changing topics orbiting the depression and mental illness. More details by clicking above."

                              Vladas Urbonavičius
I’m thrilled to be working with friends and colleagues in Lithuania this autumn, delivering artist’s training for practitioners new to the arts and health field. This builds on the bespoke training that I offer each year here in Manchester, which explores individual artist’s practice and some of the knowledge and skills needed to embark on this ever-evolving field of work. This work is being developed in partnership with the Vilnius University Oncology Institute, the British Council and the team at Socialiniai Meno Projektai.
For more details, click on the pipe above!

I am working away this week, so please excuse the lack of response to email. 

                                                         Clean Mad Vision...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Is Refined Carbohydrate Addictive?

[Note: in previous versions, I mixed up "LGI" and "HGI" terms in a couple of spots.  These are now corrected.  Thanks to readers for pointing them out.]

Recently, a new study was published that triggered an avalanche of media reports suggesting that refined carbohydrate may be addictive:

Refined Carbs May Trigger Food Addiction
Refined Carbs May Trigger Food Addictions
Can You be Addicted to Carbs?

This makes for attention-grabbing headlines, but in fact the study had virtually nothing to do with food addiction.  The study made no attempt to measure addictive behavior related to refined carbohydrate or any other food, nor did it aim to do so.

So what did the study actually find, why is it being extrapolated to food addiction, and is this a reasonable extrapolation?  Answering these questions dredges up a number of interesting scientific points, some of which undermine popular notions of what determines eating behavior.

Read more »

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The (uncomfortable) Science of Self Realisation...

So - the little film above is a taster for something larger that I'm working on around the thorny issue of what constitutes research and evidence in arts and health. It should be ready for November. What else to squeeze in today? Syria?  Too removed from an Arts/Health agenda perhaps? The chemical attacks were as horrible as it gets. Unimaginable. Vile - whoever used them. Still, it has been refreshing to see Parliament working effectively and controlling pumped-up politicians. Let’s also not forget Britain’s own illustrious history in chemical and biological research and development. Now run by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, (an agency of the MOD), Porton Down is of course, only concerned with defence and not offence! We can consign all those early developments of nerve agents like VX to the history books. After all, we’re far too civilised to develop, market or export conventional weapons of any sort to unstable areas of the world, let alone have any interest in expanding our knowledge of newer technologies and their possible violent uses. Perish the thought.

OK - back to business:

Tesco Charity Trust Community Awards 
Charitable groups who are working locally across the UK to support elderly people and adults and children with disabilities have until the end of September to submit their application for funding. The Tesco Charity Trust offers its Community Awards scheme four times a year to registered charities and not-for-profit organisations working on local projects that benefit communities close to Tesco stores in the UK. The scheme has two strands: one which supports elderly people and adults and children with disabilities and a second which supports children and their education and welfare. There are two funding rounds per strand per year. Groups can apply for one-off awards of between £500 and £4,000 which will support practical things such as equipment and resources. Projects previously supported include luncheon clubs, specialist equipment for disabled people, day trips and social trips for elderly or disabled people.

Decisions are normally made about three months after the closing date by the regional Community Co-ordinators who are based in Tesco stores across the UK. The closing date for applications for the current round for Elderly People and/or People with Disabilities is 30 September 2013. Full details can be found on the Tesco Charity Trust 

An esteemed researcher quantifying the impact of the arts on health...
Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation 
The Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation has announced that its grants making programme will re-open for applications on the 1st October 2013. The Foundation supports projects in children’s hospitals and hospices throughout the UK to enrich and enhance the lives of patients. Projects that could be considered by the Foundation include amongst others:
·  Arts, music, play and leisure programmes
·  Facilities to support families of children treated in hospitals or hospices
·  Care and facilities in hospices
·  Supporting children with physical and emotional difficulties
·  Medical equipment; etc. 

Idlewild Trust 
The Idlewild Trust has announced that the next closing date for applications to its grant making programme is the 20th September 2013. The Idlewild Trust is a grant making trust that supports registered charities concerned with the encouragement of the performing and fine arts and crafts, the advancement of education within the arts and the preservation for the benefit of the public of lands, buildings and other objects of beauty or historic interest in the United Kingdom.

Clore Poetry & Literature Awards 
The Clore Duffield Foundation has announced that the sixth funding round under its £1 million programme to fund poetry and literature initiatives for children and young people across the UK is now open for applications. Through the programme, schools, FE colleges, community groups, libraries and other arts/cultural organisations can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 to support participatory learning projects and programmes focused on literature, poetry and creative writing for under 19s. Read more at:

So we end, appropriately I hope, with a piece of work by Seamus Heaney who died on Friday. It's from his 2010 collection, Human Chain and is about his dad. Perfect.

The Butts
His suits hung in the wardrobe, broad
And short
And slightly bandy-sleeved,
Flattened back
Against themselves,
A bit stand-offish.
Stale smoke and oxter-sweat
Came at you in a stirred-up brew
When you reached in,
A whole rake of thornproof and blue serge
Swung heavily
Like waterweed disturbed. I sniffed
Tonic unfreshness,
Then delved past flap and lining
For the forbidden handfuls.
But a kind of empty-handedness
Transpired . . . Out of suit-cloth
Pressed against my face,
Out of those layered stuffs
That surged and gave,
Out of the cold smooth pocket-lining
Nothing but chaff cocoons,
A paperiness not known again
Until the last days came
And we must learn to reach well in beneath
Each meagre armpit
To lift and sponge him,
One on either side,
Feeling his lightness,
Having to dab and work
Closer than anybody liked
But having, for all that,
To keep working.