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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. 

Guy Bishop’s mechanical sculptures

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. 

Guy Bishop’s mechanical sculptures

 

Guy Bishop’s mechanical sculptures

 

Guy Bishop’s mechanical sculptures

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.

In another approach to expanding their creative critical thinking, Hans and Kjersti will also be hosting a Research Discussion Panel on the afternoon of the 22nd. An multidisciplinary panel of interested professionals and academics have been invited to react and respond to the Impressions from their own specific areas of knowledge, expertise, experience and imagination. The panel will be chaired by Jonathan Wyatt, Director of the Centre for Creative Relational Inquiry at the University of Edinburgh, and will take place in front of a small invited audience. If you would like an invitation to this please email Hans K Clausen expressing your interest.

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, the last in a series of workshops with NHS staff to get feedback on the ATD programme’s multi-sensory design and distraction imagery project was held. A team headed by artist Alex Hamilton and Dr Oli Mival from the Napier University’s Centre for Interactive Design is developing a technology platform which will allow clinical staff and patients to engage with moving images that can be projected on walls or ceilings for distraction while patients are undergoing tests, examinations or procedures.
The workshops have helped the team refine the design and content ideas for a selection of films which will be commissioned later this year. The suite of films will be categorised under three ‘channels’ that describe what the content is best suited for: relaxing, engaging and focusing. Each channel will contain different types of content, for example animation, animals, nature, comedy and places around Edinburgh. The film library will be accessed by staff through a menu on a tablet and films will be able to be filtered not just by type but also by length. Films lasting from 5 minutes to 45 minutes can be chosen, depending on how long a treatment might last.

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.

Image of Susana Leret

Exploring ways in which smells encode memories, Susana Cámara Leret’s focus during her DCN fellowship is on experimenting with organoleptics: the involvement of the sense organs in medical settings and considering ‘health ecologies’ through stories of aspirations. Susana started her work by spending time with neuroscientist Norman Dott’s case notes in the Lothian Health Services Archives. There she uncovered stories from DCN in the 1920s and 1930s, when smell was referred to as a symptom, for instance olfactory hallucinations or varying smell abilities between right and left nostrils.

Susana has also spent time with Consultant Neuroradiologist Dr Pete Keston who told her about a medical intervention, embolotherapy, which is the intentional blockage of an artery to control or prevent hemorrhaging. A liquid agent called Onyx can be used in embolotherapy and when it is, the patient will have breath with a very distinct smell which can last up to a week. On investigation, Susana discovered that as the body breaks down the carrier substance used to carry Onyx to the brain, it produces a molecule that is expelled through breath. This same molecule has a natural occurrence: the key signalling cue of the Dead Horse Arum Lily, a giant flower that smells like rotting flesh.

Susana is now exploring molecular landscapes- invisible elements we sense through smell- and the associations we might apply to them to ask: How might experiences from medical settings extend beyond hospital walls into people’s homes and vice versa?

Other articulations in matters of care

Susana recently carried out a series of smell-memory sessions with doctors, nurses and hospital staff using cards that had been impregnated with the smell of Onyx. Doctors mentioned having a garlicky taste in their mouths after handling Onyx and nurses talked about knowing an Onyx patient had arrived in the ward because the smellscape had been changed so much by the agent. One nurse said the smell of Onyx reminded her of playing by the sea as a child while another said she could no longer cook asparagus because the smell reminded her of unpleasant experiences on the ward with Onyx patients.  

The molecule found in the smell of Onyx is produced by some sea algae and also when certain vegetables like asparagus are cooked. Illustrating the hyperlinked nature of smell, these stories bring into question how we think about and address medical environments.

You can see Susana’s work as part of the Thought Collider collaboration exploring substances, spaces and processes of affect at Alt-w LAB, City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh until August 27th.

A number of projects on the ATD programme have a focus on linking the histories of the existing hospitals to the new building. Here we hightlight two of these projects, Old to New and Lightboxes.

Old to New

The focus of this project is to share the identity, history, and stories of the three institutions as they undergo a transition from their original sites to the new building. A series of display cases will be installed throughout the building to showcase new pieces that re-imagine the past. Researcher Emma Dunmore explored the archival and historical material available and Kate Ive has evolved the project into a series of sculptural artworks which reinterpret the histories and stories of the hospitals. Cabinet maker Joachim King is making the frames into which the artwork will be inserted, allowing for exploration of histories in bite size chunks.

 

Image from Lothian Health Services Archive of a radiologist in heavy lead suit.

Copy of an image from Lothian Health Services Archive of William Law, pioneering radiographer in his x-ray suit.

 

Kate Ive is working with lead to re-imagine x-ray suits from previous times.

Lightboxes

New artworks are being created by Emma Varley in response to an original stained glass piece at the current RHSC. The new work will be displayed in the form of lightboxes and will keep a strong link to the original work, though reinterpreted. The new work will be tailored to the design of the new hospital. The existing nine panel piece is

a stained glass window which is vibrant, detailed and contains areas of text. It has a rich history attached to it and contains a narrative both of the history of the RHSC and of fairy tale characters. Through drop in workshops at RHSC, patients, families and staff created projected light collages using acetate, translucent papers and found objects which will influence the final lightbox pieces.

 

Images of light collage creations from drop in workshops at RHSC.