Tomorrow will be your last chance to catch the brilliantly received exhibition ‘Anatomy of Fleeting Moments’ at the Edinburgh Art Festival. Aptly set in the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh, artists Hans K Clausen and Kjersti Sletteland have collaborated with writer Jenni Fagan and over 700 individual participants, to present a fascinating exhibition set amidst the iconic and theatrical backdrop.
The exhibition is free, and more details can be found on the Edinburgh Art Festival website.
During the first stage of the project to design the interiors of the new RHSC’s CAMHS unit, designers Projects Office worked with artist James Leadbitter to develop an innovative design research strategy. Through a series of in-depth workshops with young service users, their parents, carers and NHS staff, they created new ways to explore the impact of space and environment on good mental health.
These fascinating sessions offered first-hand information about coping with mental health issues and emphasised the emotional and practical importance of well-designed environments. They helped the design team to define a range of comfortable and non-clinical spaces for young people suffering from significant distress.
This approach allowed stakeholders to engage with the project early in the design process. It also acknowledged the challenges of the project (two larger CAMHS units being combined on a single site) and aimed to alleviate the ‘consultation fatigue’ of stakeholders who felt their concerns had been sought but not addressed. The result is a collaboratively developed and cohesive set of designs which work hard to resolve the real challenges of the people who will use the space every day.
A key question in their workshops was ‘What does good mental health feel like?’ in answer to which many participants described the coast. The theme of the sea was then woven into a narrative thread that unifies a wide variety of different spaces and programmes within the department. Referencing the landscape, colours and landmarks of the Scottish east coast the age-appropriate interiors gradually transform from vibrant seaside colours and motifs in spaces for the younger children to a more rugged offshore theme for the teenagers. The atmosphere is vibrant, friendly and non institutional without being artificially domestic or patronising.
From a lighthouse to retreat to, to a nook to watch from, to a personalisable shelving unit: the designers created innovative and unconventional healing spaces. These spaces drew directly from the results of their user engagement process and pushed the boundaries of established thought on the provision of mental health care environments with the input, support and enthusiasm of the CAMHS’ NHSL staff, patients and families.
Patricia is one of the participants in the production being directed and produced by Jeremy Weller as part of his residency ‘Where it Hurts’. A wide ranging group of individuals have come together to explore personal experiences of accessing NHS services.
Mama NHS by Patrica Jeram
If there ever was a presence
So strong and yet so weak
Strong in your love, care and compassion
And weak in same nature
It would be you Mama NHS
If there ever was a presence
So loved and yet so loathed
Loved and appreciated by most
Loathed and hated by a few
It would be you Mama NHS
From when mum and dad found out about me
To when I was born and took my very first steps
You were always here Mama NHS
And when in childhood freedom
Oblivious of danger I hurt myself
When in adolescent stubbornness
I fell off my bike and cracked my ribs
You were here to nurse me Mama NHS
When in adulthood I felt depressed and confused
When in recklessness I damaged my body
And blamed everyone for their part
You were there Mama NHS
When I cried out for help
And finding none I jumped
Hoping to put an end to the pain
That was no longer a gain
You were there to catch me and patch me Mama NHS
When my pal Jimmy gave up waiting for a new liver, you magically provided one
When my ma broke her hip
You gave a her a new one
What a miracle you are Mama NHS!
But when my pal Amy got breast cancer, you turned her into a statistic and told her she had two years to live. That was insensitive Mama NHS
And when my mate Jamie died from blood cancer
And my aunt Nina died from heart attack
All through no fault of theirs
You stood by and did not save them Mama NHS
When my partner died from a crash
And my sweet little boy lost his wee limbs
Never to play football or cycle again
Why did you not reverse it all Mama NHS?
When my neighbour and his partner wanted children,
You helped them achieve their dream
But when I turned to you to ask for same
You said I was too old Mama NHS
“Is there ever a limit to a mother’s generosity?” I ask you
“Blame the politicians, they took my resources, my power and my love” you moan and groan
“Well I say you’re not fighting hard enough, mama! Every mother fights for her children, young or old! fit or disabled! rich or poor! Fight for your children Mama NHS”
I feel grateful to you Mama but
I also feel sad and disappointed
I feel angry, helpless and powerless
But I trust you to help me because
If there ever was a presence so loving, caring, compassionate, intelligent, creative, powerful, gentle and strong!
It would definitely be you Mama NHS
‘Hospital Impressions’ is a project which comments on the transition of the old hospital building to the new one through participation exploring notions of time, memory and place. Staff, visitors, patients and relatives created unique hand impressions by squeezing a ball of raw porcelain during several workshops across four Edinburgh Hospital sites, ‘exploring the emotions that are captured in a moment of reflection and in the intimate space of a hand hold’, said lead artist in residence Hans K Clausen.
Having collected, fired and collated over 600 impressions, Hans and collaborating artist Kjersti Sletteland wanted to find a way of reflecting on the process thus far, to critically analyse the purpose and potential of the project and also to share it as a work in progress. In November 2017 they hosted a research day at the City Art Centre focussing on two distinct research approaches. In the morning members of the public were invited to take part in drawing workshops where, led by a life-drawing tutor, an architect and a contemporary image maker, they were asked to observe and draw the Hospital Impressions which were displayed in the gallery space, engaging with the pieces in new, visual and very tactile ways.
The resulting 150 drawings have provided the artists with another lens through which to consider the project and some of the drawing contributions may be incorporated into the project outcomes. In the afternoon a panel of professionals and academics from a broad section of disciplines were invited to a round table discussion to respond to the Impressions from their professional perspectives. The panel included; a psychotherapist, an archaeologist, an art therapist, an anaesthetist, a physiotherapist, a hospital chaplain, a museum archivist, a ceramic artist, a senior nurse, a poet and a material culture PhD student. It was chaired by Jonathan Wyatt, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry. What struck them was the simultaneous uniformity and difference of the objects. One participant likened the artefacts to bones, while another was moved by the time people took to examine each piece. A recorded transcription of this debate has given Hans and Kjersti a rich and varied insight to the possible associations and narratives that the work can have, and is now informing their thinking about the final project outcomes.
Hans said of the interactions: ‘I think people have surprised themselves. Somebody this morning, when they created an impression, was surprised that they felt fearful. And that’s when I think it works well, when it takes people somewhere different.’
Film by Elena Georgieva
Daniel and William Warren of Warren Design have lead the design for the Pod and Waiting Spaces based on the theme of ‘Journeys of the Imagination’. The furniture, graphical illustrations, software and pieces of setworks have all been designed to inspire playful thinking and provide distraction. Early consultation with the play team and other members of staff emphasised the need for engaging spaces that were more ‘after school club’ than ‘playground environment’ encouraging children to stay within allocated waiting areas. They have designed spaces that offer privacy for family groups that need it, large pieces of set which create a visual impact, table top play activities and hidden magical moments for children to discover whilst they wait.
In order to create a strong link between the new hospital at Little France and the much loved old site they have used the recognisable Edinburgh buildings and architecture as a starting point and embroidered these with characters, making the space familiar yet dreamlike. Within the Pod, a sense of the city has been created from silhouettes of the skyline represented as wall murals and on large pieces of setworks with illustrations by Emily Hogarth. During a series of workshops at the beginning of the design process children drew their own versions of buildings and characters which Emily then used to create an imaginary city. The Scott Monument turns into a space rocket, tigers and other animals wander through the streets and up on a high ledge Edinburgh Castle transforms into a brooding dragon.
Within the large structures are moments of discovery. A series of Augmented Reality viewers developed by Touzie Tyke allow children to see some of these characters come to life and move through the actual space. The dragon swoops down, birds fly around and hot air balloons drift up and out of the building. Also hidden within the structures are small mechanical sculptures created by city based artist Guy Bishop. Children can discover what really happens in the cellars beneath the Royal Mile and see local characters such as Greyfriars Bobby, Dolly the Sheep and the Penguin Parade come to life.
Working closely with health-care specialist Teal, a range of furniture has also been developed for the project. A high backed sofa offers family groups privacy in a busy waiting room whilst other pieces are informed by animal shapes such as the Deer and Tortoise stools. As well as being practical pieces of furniture they will aid in children’s play and take them on a ‘Journey of the Imagination’ whilst they wait.
Earlier this month, NHS and Ginkgo staff were hosted by Dress for the Weather for a tour of fabrication and production sites across Glasgow to see and feel samples of materials going into the new RHSC and DCN. This is an exciting phase of the ATD programme, seeing drawings and conversations realised in the run up to installations.
Here, illustrations of DCN waiting area benches come to life at the Glasgow Sculpture Studios where samples have been produced.
Patterns for panels that will feature in interview rooms and sitting rooms have been informed by patients after a series of engagement workshops. Designed by Bespoke Atelier and fabricated by Kelsen, the images include references to The Meadows and a range of exotic animals. We’re pretty sure you’ll find a new animal hiding away somewhere every time you look at the printed panel!
Over the past 6 months artist residents Hans K Clausen and Kjersti Sletteland have run workshops across four Edinburgh hospital sites with a diverse group of staff, patients, relatives, visitors and allied staff inviting them to stop for a moment, take a few deep breaths, gather their thoughts and squeeze a ball of raw porcelain (an artistic take on the use of a stress ball). This has resulted in collection of over 600 unique porcelain hand impressions, referred to as Hospital Impressions. These have been kiln fired at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and will be presented with correlating information and reflections from the participants. The demographic encompasses a 4 day old baby to an 88 year old orthopaedic patient, a consultant paediatric neurology surgeon to a 1st year medical student, a depressed adolescent inpatient to an animated hospital construction worker.
Collecting these ‘porcelain artefacts of moments’ and experiencing the conversations that happened at the point of their creation has got the artists thinking critically about them; their value, their meaning, their individuality and their oneness, their immediacy and their ambiguity, their truth and their potential mythology.
This creative and critical thinking process will now be widened out in a public engagement event taking place at the Alt-w LAB in Edinburgh’s City Art Centre on 22 November 2017. During a morning of drawing under the tuition of Jill Boualaxai, Stuart Campbell and Jessica Mezger, the general public will have opportunity to explore the Hospital Impressions ‘artefacts’ through creative looking, drawing and writing. The drawings created on the day will capture immediate reactions to the volume, shape, material quality and interpretation of artefacts and the images will become contributions to the final project. Book a place on this visual research drawing workshop by visiting Alt-w LAB’s Eventbrite page.