Monday, 2 February 2015

The Arts and Disability: In aid of a paradigm shift

Sue Austen has been in a wheelchair since 1996, when she contracted ME. To free herself from its limitations, she has adapted a wheelchair design, creating one that can be used underwater. "Portal" has enabled her to fly underwater. She plays with the notion of transformation: transforming attitudes, preconceived notions of being "wheelchair bound", and notion of disability and limitations.

Have a look at her TED talk and you'll see that, her imagination reflects a courageous and positively empowering woman.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Arts and Climate Change

Marshall McLuhan said, "artists are harbingers of cultural change".  Cape Farewell is a project that brings scientists together with writers, visual artists, musicians, film makers and architects to explore the seas, in order to collectively address and raise awareness of climate change. The brain child of the organization, David Buckland is an artist who has invited other creatives such as writer Ian McEwan, musicians Kt Tunstall and Feist, and sculptor Anthony Gormley onto the ship into the Arctic.  Artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey for instance, carved a large lens out of ice and focused images onto large slabs of ice.

Scientists have had the evidence of global warming for years and this project works to provide a creative tool for communicating the need for us all to take heed and shift our practices.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Resilience in Damascus: Singing for Peace

Syrians are suffering under ISIS. Fear of bombing has stopped people from gathering in large numbers on the streets. Now, with the intensification of conflict, the air-strikes by the US and Canada and the recent beheadings by ISIS, public gatherings are even more dangerous. Yet street performers continue to go into the streets bringing people together.

The smiles on the faces of the people illustrates the power of the arts to remind people of their lives outside conflict. I am so impressed by the courage and resilience of these performers.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Arts-Informed Research and Cardiology: An Installation

When thinking about using the arts to heal I came across this project by Dr. Jennifer Lapum. I had seen her speak and perform a few years ago when she was in the thick of conducting her research. What follows is another example of the notion of patient-centred care. Like the dementia village about which I wrote last time, this project reflects the notion of art and healing in a very literal sense.

The 7024th Patient is an art installation that communicates research findings by recreating the lived experiences of cardiac patients. The poetry, created from the words of patients recovering from heart surgery, is exhibited alongside photographs displayed in a physical space. In using the arts as a means to disseminate their research findings, this team of researchers fosters an empathetic and embodied response - a humanistic, patient-centred approach to sharing their research findings rather a clinical approach.  The installation is on exhibition at Sunnybrook Health Sciences in Toronto from March 11th.

Dr. Jennifer Lapum the principal investigator is an associate professor at Ryerson as well as a registered nurse in cardiovascular intensive care. She is a poet and a researcher who chooses an arts-based narrative approach to her work.  She is focused on enhancing patients’ overall health while at the same time endeavouring to make sure that no patient feels like a number or “the 7,024th patient”.  She brings the arts to the health sciences in order to facilitate the medical practitioners’ capacity to become subjective and to see the patient as a person and not just as a number.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Dementia and Care with Dignity

I few weeks ago I wrote about an environmental and arts in health  program that I had been involved in to enhance the environment of a medical ward housing demetia patients in the West of Ireland. With the recent deaths in Canada of Alzheimer patients who have wandered out of their care facility, I have been compelled to undertake further research and explorations into what is possible for the care of the elderly with severe Alzheimer disease.

What follows is a video done by CNN during which we are invited by Dr. Gupta to travel to Hogewey, a small village in Weesp, the Netherlands, to a nursing home that is really a village complete with shops, hair salons and community programmes. The architectural adaptations, nursing care, and arts activities such as music, cooking and other projects, allow patients to participate in their community and succeeds in providing a safe, healthy living environment.

We are taken to a wonderful village in which people are enabled to lead a life with dignity despite their severe dementia. It illustrates what can be done with creativity, architectural adaptations and proper training for all staff.

We in Canada need to learn a lesson!

Friday, 31 January 2014

An arts and Peacebuilding project in Bahrain

The combination of imagination and action is powerful and can be transformative. What follows is a project taken up by a group of young Bahrainian men and women to provide opportunities for renewed tolerance and understandings of each other. It is the story of ULAFA'A, the team of individuals and the process.

They initiated everything from Free Hugs, to collaborative notebooks.

The project was presented at Brandeis University in 2013.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Theatre and Peacebuilding: Arts and Politics

This trailer of a larger project directed by Allison Lund explores the use of theatre as a medium through which people work together to heal community and peace build. It reflects international projects by artists and theatre directors in Cambodia, Australia, Argentina and Uganda. These are new forms of theatre created by people within a community. It raises artistic and peacebuilding dilemmas such as can theatre be used for political purposes and, in doing so, is the aesthetic quality compromised as there is little time to digest the process?

This video, and the projects it portrays is inspiring.