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Artist residents Hans K Clausen and Jeremy Weller have been exploring the relational elements between the staff, patients and communities around DCN, Sick Kids and CAMHS, both in their existing and future sites. Investigating different ways people meet in hospitals, ways relationships are formed and how people come together in medical settings they are asking in their project Hurts and Heals, ‘What does hurting mean and what are the expectations around healing?’
Having met with people across all areas of the hospitals, Jeremy and Hans have been collecting conversations, stories, images and recordings to inform their work. Focusing on the inside/inside relationships as well as the inside/outside relationships, Hurts and Heals aims to express the breaking down of barriers between staff and patients; staff and staff; wards and wards.

Engaging with people has not only helped Hans and Jeremy refine their ideas but it has also pushed them to challenge the way they think about their roles as artists in the ATD programme. Hans says, ‘There’s a big challenge from conversations about what happens to us in the process. Am I here just to deliver something or is there something more of myself I can give?’ Jeremy reflects, ‘How does art function in this role? What is the role of art here? I’m going to look more at that and actually bring my art more into the middle and tip my research on its head. Because I’ve been going out and deep into the NHS, into communities and now I’m going to go into me and say, “What does me as an artist think of all this and how that might impact and lay bare the process of art, my process of art?”’
Drawing on Hans’s background as a sculptor, Hurts and Heals has so far collected hundreds of unique impressions in porcelain china from a wide range of people in the hospital community. Through public outreach visits, this strand of Hurts and Heals-  called Hospital Impressions- invites people to stop for a couple of minutes, take a couple of deep breaths and squeeze a ball of raw porcelain. After participants have created their impression in porcelain, they are asked to write down what the experience made them feel or think and this goes to create a physical artefact of an individual’s moment in time. Hans developed the idea for Hospital Impressions after a conversation with a nurse who shared with him ways in which patients have left emotional impressions on her and his own observations of the impressions people make passing through places, like lipstick on cups, doodles on paper or old postcards on noticeboards.
How sculptural outputs might combine with Jeremy’s specialism as a theatre director for a final piece of Hurts and Heals is something the two are exploring.

Last month, a workshop co-hosted by DCN fellow Susana Cámara Leret and ‘smeller’ Joy Milne, who has the extra-ordinary ability to smell Parkinson’s Disease, was held at the Alt-w LAB to explore ways in which smells encode memories. Attendees used pens and coloured pencils to document on a grid the memories, feelings and words evoked by 8 mysterious smell samples offered up to them by Susana.


Susana prepares smell samples for workshop attendees.


As each sample was handed to workshop attendees, they were reminded that smells are multi-layered: at first they may be offensive but keep taking the smell in slowly and they might find they change quite a bit. From human sweat to plant pheromones, molecules can be found in the composition of many everyday smells. As we establish associations to these, experiences from the medical setting might extend beyond the walls of the hospital, calling for other articulations in matters of care.


Joy ‘The Sniffer’ Milne has the ability to smell Parkinson’s Disease


The group talked about smells that brought on memories of old workplaces, a GP’s office, being on a farm as a child and those that evoked an emotion or the strange sensation of knowing a smell but being unable to conjure up the word to describe it. Seaweed, petrol, sweaty feet, garlic, cumin were some of the words attendees used to describe the 8 mystery smells. At the end of the workshop, everyone learned what they had been smelling all along: molecules found in types of human decay.


A workshop attendee documents his memories and thoughts after smelling each sample.


The aim of the DCN fellowships are to promote and highlight the working activity and research interests found in the DCN through a programme of dynamic art and science commissions. Development of work using current research practices is key to each fellowship in the programme. The fellowships seek to build relationships between artists, staff and external research partners to demonstrate best practice and contribute to dialogues about the benefits of creative practice in clinical environments.

Two artist residencies which take as their starting points the relationships and experiences of hospital staff and patients and the impact and dynamics of hospital communities moving and evolving. A visual artist and a writer/director are working organically and relationally across four hospital sites identifying and initiating opportunities for creative dialogue to generate collaborative artistic and cultural projects.


Hans K Clausen: “As a visual artist I am drawn to the artefacts and aesthetics that dominate hospital environments, from the ‘tools of the trades’ of health care to the visual noise of public information and the material palette of the institution. I’m also interested in the connections between people and place, the ways in which everyone leaves their mark, the unseen traces of human interactions and the importance and uniqueness of individuality amidst a culture that operates on averages, generalities and commonalities. This curiosity has so far led to Hospital Impressions; an art action which will collect hand-pressed impressions in fine porcelain from patients, staff and visitors across hospital sites capturing personal ‘relics of a moment’.”


Example of Hospital Impressions, hand-pressed impressions in fine porcelain. Photo by Hans Clausen

Example of Hospital Impressions, hand-pressed impressions in fine porcelain. Photo by Hans K Clausen

Jeremy Weller: “As a writer and a film and theatre director I have been meeting with staff and patients, listening to their stories and looking for the meeting points between the NHS and the people who want its help. What is this story? What are their stories? The whole world coming through the door. Every story, every emotion, dramatic, compassionate, a very human story of people trying to help…and those seeking help. I hope to get beneath the surface of the relationships and dynamics that exist between people, communities and cultures and build something dramatic and authentic from these experiences.”


Extract from Jeremy Weller's notebook. Photo by Hans Clausen

Extract from Jeremy Weller’s notebook. Photo by Hans K Clausen


Artist residency programme

Photograph of Jeremy Weller's Notebook. Photo by Hans Clausen
Photograph of Jeremy Weller's Notebook. Photo by Hans Clausen

The aim of the residency programme is to create a body of new work and foster new cultural relationships and arising from artists working in residence exploring creative practice within the health and wellbeing research and practice agenda within the hospital and city communities. The work produced will be shown or located within RHSC and DCN and also with city partners.

Two artists have been appointed:

Hans K Clausen – will focus firstly on building the creative capacity within the Little France community.
Jeremy Weller – will focus on connecting with local communities and minority groups across Edinburgh.


DCN Creative research artist fellowships

DCN Research Fellow line up, from left to right: Gavin Inglis (Language and Cognition Fellow), Susana Camara Leret (Design Fellow), Mark Daniels (Curator), Alex Menzies (Music Fellow), Florence To (Installation Artist, collaborating with Alex Menzies). Photo by Chris Scott.
DCN Research Fellow line up, from left to right: Gavin Inglis (Language and Cognition Fellow), Susana Camara Leret (Design Fellow), Mark Daniels (Curator), Alex Menzies (Music Fellow), Florence To (Installation Artist, collaborating with Alex Menzies). Photo by Chris Scott.

This project aims to promote and showcase the working activity and research interests currently found within DCN through a programme of three arts/science fellowships curated by Mark Daniels. The fellows that have been appointed are:

Alex Menzies and Florence To: Music Fellowship
Gavin Inglis: Language and Cognition Fellowship
Susana Camara Leret: Design Fellowship