What art have I seen? Women’s Work

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on December 9, 2021

Maria Macavana’s exhibition, Women’s Work, comprising work developed during the pandemic with healthcare workers. It explores the relationship between women who have worked within the NHS and the tools that are important to them to deliver their work.

Two rooms comprised drawings, two with works made or contributed by people working in mental health and wellbeing – Cristina Logan, NHSCT Governance Lead Radiographer; Dr Lindsey Macleod, Independent Clinical Psychologist; Kasia Zych Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist; Angela Bialek Art Therapist; and Sarah McLean Social Worker.

Macavana’s drawings are captioned with texts explaining their significance to these women.

Macavana has been working in dialogue with Dr Macleod for a considerable period and this extends the work. It also links with work Macavana has done in Sri Lanka with craftswomen working with coir rope and palm leaf cocoons.

Macavana’s work, careful and subtle, evokes other women’s work, both physical and caring. It is based on conversations over long periods. It pays deep respect to these care workers with its care.

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NSAIS Commission Courtyards (Gabbro)

Posted in Arts & Health, News, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on December 8, 2021

Extended Deadline 17 January 2022

£50,000 excluding VAT

This commission addresses a key challenge at the heart of the ethos of Foxgrove (NSAIS): creating an empathetically designed environment that balances safety and therapy. We are looking for a designer/maker individual or team to design, fabricate, test and deliver modular units comprising planters, seating (and tables) for the Horticultural Courtyard and the Therapy Courtyard. The designer/maker will work closely with One Environments, Project Landscape Architect, to input into the overall layout, as well as surfaces, planting, lighting, and graphics/signage. The commission will need to contribute to the ethos and language of biophilic and therapeutic design throughout Foxgrove (NSAIS). Careful consideration will need to be taken with the choice of material and the design in order to meet the highest standards of safety and robustness.

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NSAIS Commission Dividing Wall (Delta)

Posted in Arts & Health, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on November 23, 2021

First Commission for NHS Ayrshire & Arran‘s new Foxgrove National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service.
How do you use a wall to provide security but also contribute to a therapeutic environment? 
We are looking for a designer/maker individual or team to develop and deliver a solution for a dividing wall required for safety separating the main dining space from the main living space. The wall should enhance safety and security within the facility but also enhance the therapeutic milieu of the facility, providing a feature which inspires confidence in the young people and pride in the staff group.
You will have:
• experience of collaborating with Project Architects
• track record of work for justice, education, or health/wellbeing
• engagement-focused practice
• delivered high quality integrated elements on time and to budget
Foxgrove, the National Secure Inpatient Adolescent Service (NSAIS) will provide support, education and rehabilitation for young people with mental health disorders where the risk of harm to others or themselves is beyond what can be provided by other mental health services.
Total budget £40,000 exc VAT

Deadline 13 December 2021

Full brief here

Published: Improvising as a method in the time of Covid-19

Posted in Arts & Health, CF Writing, News, Research by chrisfremantle on July 7, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-06-26 at 16.05.44

The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance kindly published some thoughts on artists and improvisation, drawn from the writings of Professor Emeritus Anne Douglas and the work of Dr Chris Dooks.

This came out of a discussion during a meeting of arts and health networks (WAHWN (Wales), ArtsCare (Northern Ireland) and ACHWS (Scotland), as well as APPG AHW and CHWA (England). We were talking about how artists were adapting to continue to work with various communities, not only shifting online, but also finding new analogue ways.

Improvising provides a different way of thinking from statistics and modelling, which have dominated the news and discussions certainly since lockdown, but actually well before that, and in other discourses such as the climate crisis too. ‘Improvising’ can also be a critique of politicians, but where artists are doing it, the approaches are tested methods, not on-the-fly half-baked patches.

Thanks to Anne Douglas for her comments and Chris Dooks for allowing use of his work.


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The Art of a Life Adapting, published in Leonardo

Posted in Arts & Health, CF Writing, News, Research, Texts, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 10, 2020
'Drawing 2016', pen (Sharpie), found object, sculptural object, 2016. (Photo: Fergus Connor)

‘Drawing 2016’, pen (Sharpie), found object, sculptural object, 2016. (Photo: Fergus Connor)

Statement ‘The Art of a Life Adapting: Drawing and Healing’ just published in Leonardo Vol 53 No 1. You can find an earlier version here. Drawings are here.

There is a lot of talk about adaptation in relation to the climate crisis, but there is also an increasing recognition that cancer survival rates mean that a larger proportion of the population is and will be living with the long term consquences of cancer treatment. This has been highlighted by the EU Horizon programme, “The EU has already placed the needs of survivors as one of the key pillars of its Beating Cancer Plan and has now launched a consultation aimed at identifying where research is needed most.” (‘Treating cancer is only part of the journey’: the overlooked needs of cancer survivors, online.)

The role of arts and cultural practices, as well as approaches to understanding adaptation conceptually and practically, all need further consideration (see recent blog on climate adaptation). We know arts & culture has multiple contributions to make, including:

  • offering forms of autonomy in palliative care, as explored in the ‘Tracing Autonomy’ project by Prof. Ben Colburn of University of Glasgow, Jeni Pearson and Kirsty Stansfield of the Art Room in the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow.
  • playing a role in ’emotional regulation’ (Daisy Fancourt’s recent research provides significant evidence), but there are also issues around ‘uncertainty’ which also connect climate-related adaptation with cancer-related adaptation.
  • opening up ways of ‘living with uncertainty’, which medics recognise as an important part of their professional practice, but is equally significant for patients.


What art have I seen? Re(a)d Bed

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on June 30, 2018

Pryde, James Ferrier, 1866-1941; The Red Bed

James Pryde, ‘The Red Bed’ (1916)

One of the challenges in creating work for hospitals and healthcentres is that there really isn’t any place to experiment.

If you want to in some way engage with our health and the institutions which deal with us when we are sick, pretty much regardless of artform, it is tricky. Quite rightly healthcare professionals control access. Hospitals aren’t really places for experimentation. You probably ought to know what you are doing if you are going to make art in places where people are sick, recovering or dying.

So the exhibition Re(a)d Bed in Edinburgh’s City Arts Centre is an important correlate to the major Art and Therapeutic Design programme currently being installed and otherwise integrated into NHS Lothian’s new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Little France, Edinburgh.

The works in the exhibition are the result of residencies and fellowships intended to provide developmental opportunities for artists to explore issues and create new and challenging responses to in particular the neurosciences context. Key to this programme has been the partnership between Ginkgo Projects, public art and design managers, and New Media Scotland/Alt-W. The exhibition comprises both some historical items as well as new works by artists, craftspeople and designers. Full documentation can be found on the New Media Scotland site here. Gavin Inglis’ in progress graphic novel exploring functional neurological disorders, Stacy Hunter’s questioning the depersonalisation of the clinical environment, asking what objects could make it more personal again, Sven Werner’s audio work on becoming invisible… These and the others are all important vectors through healthcare experiences and environments, experiments that need to be done, ideas that need to be tested and prototyped.

Beyond Walls provides more information and regular updates.


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What art have I seen? Jo Spence

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 17, 2016

Jo Spence at Stills.  Three groups of work that clearly demonstrate the radical approaches to photography being used by Spence and her various colleagues.  Put this alongside the ‘Context is Half the Work: Partial History of the Artist Placement Group’ at Summerhalland its a salutory reminder of what radical practice looks like.

Good review here

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BBH story on recent Arts and health projects

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on January 15, 2016

Better Building in Healthcare ran the story Arts and health – more than just a picture a couple of weeks ago featuring the ‘Podium Landmarking’ project by Rachel Mimiec, Graphical House and Haa Design for the Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals in Glasgow.  The landmarks are designed to work like landmarks in towns and cities, telling you that you are at an important junction.  The conventional signage works like street names and directions.  They compliment each other.

Rachel and the team did some workshops with staff and patients to understand what constituted a ‘landmark’ and the answer they came back with was ‘something quirky’ that stood out.  They then asked some 25 members of staff (current and retired) to tell them about something quirky that happened to them.  The result was distilled down in discussion with the NHS Capital Planning Team and then developed by Graphical House working with Haa Design into 3d illustrations eventually built by specialist fabricators, Interior Solutions in Corian (the Dupont kitchen surface product).

That’s how you get a jar of beach sweeties or a pair of flying saucers (or 19 other quirky images) working as landmarks helping people remember where they’ve been in a hospital.

You can also see more about the project on Ginkgo Projects and NHSGGC’s Arts & Health

Old to New in Hospitals: Echoes of Grace

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on December 7, 2015

Marlene Creates, Echoes of Grace (detail), 2001

Marlene Creates, Echoes of Grace (detail), 2001

Marlene Creates, the Canadian artist poet known for her deep exploration of the human relation to place, undertook a project demonstrating ways to connect an old hospital with a new one, in particular focusing on staff and their experience of change.  The image above is one of a series of panels comprising images, found text (graffiti written on the walls by the staff during the last days they worked there) as well as more formal text.  View the project on MARLENE CREATES website.

Unveiled: The art which will help and heal in new hospital | Herald Scotland

Posted in Arts & Health, CV, News, Producing by chrisfremantle on June 16, 2015

Nice piece Unveiled: The art which will help and heal in new hospital | Herald Scotland by Helen Puttick, Health Correspondent, in the Herald about the Therapeutic Design and Arts Strategy for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s new South Glasgow University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Sick Children.  I’ve been responsible for responsible for the overall programme, working with Ginkgo Projects, since 2010 (this might sound like a long time, but bear in mind the NHS Capital Planning team have been working on it for 10 years).


Experience Based Design in healthcare

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on June 9, 2015

Light Flight: New Work by Penny Clare

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions, News by chrisfremantle on May 16, 2015

Penny Clare’s new exhibition is here Chris Dooks introduced me to the work of Penny Clare a while ago and its great to see more of her work. Anyone with a special interest in health and well-being should check out her story.

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‘On truth, doubts, and pain: The significance of ideas of objectivity’ a contribution by Daniel Goldberg – Centre for Medical Humanities

Posted in Arts & Health, Research by chrisfremantle on April 16, 2015

Although this article comes from the Medical Humanities and is tagged for arts & health, it has a wider resonance raising issues around the role of imaging in determining what is real and what is not, what is causal and what is not.  Broadly the piece argues that pain is a useful area of research for understanding how ideas of objectivity have emerged.  The author argues that, “…the history of objectivity literally is a history of scientific imaging…” and “…profound changes in ideas of truth and knowledge are coextensive with profound changes in ideas of medicine and medical practice.”

‘On truth, doubts, and pain: The significance of ideas of objectivity’ a contribution by Daniel Goldberg – Centre for Medical Humanities.

Leicester leads new approach to maternity bereavement services

Posted in Arts & Health, News, Research by chrisfremantle on December 16, 2014

Clear articulation of the design requirements and challenges of user consultation in dealing with dignity from this project in Leicester. Similar issues in New South Glasgow Hospitals’ Dignified Spaces project – you can see creative consultation process and initial design thinking here.

Davis & Jones’ MOVE

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on October 25, 2014

Very nice response to the process of building a new hospital – “Davis & Jones invited surgeons and engineers to visit each others’ places of work and explore similarities and difference…”

The result is a new work commissioned from a medical illustrator comprising a pair of images.  MOVE.

Arts & Health: Economics and the dangers of Randomised Control Trials

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on September 15, 2014

Couple of really interesting presentations and discussions at the ESRC funded Arts, Health & Wellbeing Research Network meeting in London. Unfortunately this was the last event in the series, but I’m sure that a longer term programme will emerge, especially when it was noted that there have been some 200 participants of which approximately 50 have been Phd students.

The first interesting area was a presentation by David McDaid on health economics and how that field interacts with research and decision making. We know that decisions about healthcare are made on the basis of efficacy and cost, but McDaid unpacked some of the basics for us. He highlighted that when looking at the economics of any decision about healthcare we need to understand:

  • the cost of inaction;
  • the cost of action (and here he pointed out that understanding project or programme costs is very difficult and arts organisations can be quite opaque about their costs. Costs also need to include in-kind costs absorbed by partners.);
  • The cost effectiveness of the action in comparison to other potential actions;
  • levers for maximising value (ie how to maximise the money spent by working on uptake and participation).

In terms of the cost of inaction he highlighted three areas to consider:

  • Cost of every visit to the GP (which in the figures he showed was about £45 per appointment);
  • The higher cost of attending Accident and Emergency;
  • The even higher cost of hospitalisation.
  • In parallel with this are the informal care costs (ie how much is the family bearing factored at hours times the minimum wage), and the out of pocket costs for the individual for treatments or lost earnings.

Some really interesting challenges emerged in response to McDaid’s framing of the economics through the example of ‘arts on prescription vs. individual therapy sessions.’ Firstly, why these are presented as alternatives when in many cases they might be complimentary? Secondly why reduced contact is presumed to be good when there are circumstances where greater contact with healthcare workers is the good outcome. To which David responded, “These are all good points, but the model of decision-making in healthcare economics is simplistic.”

On the back of McDaid’s presentation were two evaluated project case studies, one using reading with people with chronic pain, and the other using arts on prescription for people with depression and anxiety. Both were really significant, but looking at them through the lens McDaid had provided, you’d note:

  • the need to focus on efficiency of delivery, maximise participation, understand operational finances and share models;
  • be prepared to scale up from projects to programmes.

The afternoon presentations focused on the perceived weaknesses of two Randomised Control Trials recently published. Without trying to rehearse the details, some interesting points emerged which suggest that using Randomised Control Trial (the gold standard for evidence in healthcare decision-making) to prove the value of arts interventions is not something to be undertaken lightly.

Arts interventions need to be understood as “complex interventions” as defined by the Medical Research Council and interestingly this means that any “complex intervention” should,

  • Start with a theory;
  • define which ingredient(s) essential;
  • include process analysis.

In terms of theory, healthcare is looking for the ‘theory of change’ that the study is going to test, but that ‘theory of change’ requires the practitioners (not just the researchers) to be very clear about their practice, and to deliver that practice in a consistent way in relation to the theory. (This clearly links to the ongoing development of a qualification in participatory practice by the ArtWorks programme in Scotland, jointly funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Creative Scotland.)

Perhaps one of the characteristics of any theory of change in the arts is the fundamentally voluntary nature of participation in that change. It’s one of the problems pointed out with Randomised Control Trials – people get selected to participate in the arts randomly. This is slightly problematic, particularly when you’re asking someone to engage in creative activity or even singing.

The point about defining essential ingredients is important – process-based work is often about context, empowerment and empathy as well as specific activity, but it’s extremely difficult to study more than one factor.

Finally the process analysis is important, on one level because that might a way to balance the attempt to define the essential ingredient, but also because timing and pattern are important in experiential work, e.g. participants are often interviewed for the baseline and then interviewed at the end of the programme, precisely the point where they might be feeling a sense of loss of an activity that had been enjoyed. Even a Randomised Control Trial is subject to such factors: not only what questions are you asking, but when are you asking them.

There was reference made to another Randomised Control Trial focused on singing, to be published imminently, which was ‘successful.’ It will be interesting to understand how this was constructed.  But going back to McDaid’s point, scale may be critical because at least one really good, well evaluated, project was unable to engage with the Clinical Commissioning process simply because it’s too small (and most arts & health organisations are small even in the cultural sector, let alone in relation to healthcare).

The understanding of “complex interventions” in the medical literature bears further scrutiny and some references were suggested including Marchal (2013) (and Yin (2009) on “systematic case theory”).

Theo Stickley started the morning by offering an imagined scenario around the trajectory from the materialist understanding of healthcare that characterised the 20th Century through a transition to an holistic understanding of healthcare that could characterise the 21st Century.  Whilst it’s important that the practitioners delivering arts in healthcare are well trained and professional, that they can articulate clearly their theory of change, as well as the economics of their interventions, the belief that the Randomised Control Trial is the way to prove the value might genuinely jeopardise what makes the arts distinctive from other interventions. We must become more articulate about the characteristics and values of our artforms and forms of intervention to ensure that they have equal status with the economics and the criteria imposed by the methods of research.

Only one speaker said, “and the art produced in this project was good too. We were proud of it.”

Presentations can be found here.

Whose space is it anyway?

Posted in Arts & Health, News, Sited work by chrisfremantle on September 1, 2014

Maria McCavana and Bill Breckenridge, Waiting Room, CAMHS Gorbals, 2013.  Photo Alan McAteer (with permission)

Maria McCavana and Bill Breckenridge, Waiting Room, CAMHS Gorbals, 2013. Photo Alan McAteer (with permission)

You can’t easily go and see the work that Maria McCavana and Bill Breckenridge did for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) unit in the Gorbals. It’s not that we might not particularly want to visit a CAMHS unit. It’s not that it isn’t public space (of course it’s not a gallery, not that sort of public space). It’s real public space, public service space (NHS space) where people sit and wait whilst their children and young people attend sessions with clinical psychologists and therapists. You really can’t just wander in and have a look at the art.

This is a problem for arts and health projects. The public places in which they are often to be found aren’t public in the same way as a park or a street or even the atrium of a big hospital.

But these spaces matter. And it’s all the more important that as a professional community we are able to see what colleagues and peers are doing, hear how it works and learn from these projects.

Maria McCavana, artist, and Dr Lindsey MacLeod, Clinical Psychologist specialising in child and adolescent mental health, shared the process and results of the work in the CAMHS unit in the Gorbals and also previously at the Knightswood Centre (now demolished and therefore even less accessible). They talked about their interests and motivations as well as the lessons learnt.

This event was part of UZ Arts’ programme for the Fringe (for background on UZ see the end of the piece).  Maria participated in UZ Arts’ residency programme in Sri Lanka this year, and UZ are interested in how the lessons can be transferred to artists in Sri Lanka for the benefit of the patients, families and carers. Creative Therapies, the Glasgow based art (in the broad sense) therapies organisation, provided organisational support and structure and the project was funded by the Yorkhill Children’s Foundation.

The brief for the project was focused on the users of the space, the clients, having an influence on the design of the space, actually to give them a sense of ownership. Lindsey said, “We asked young people to make their mark on the building.” The brief also asked that, “the space should be interesting, but not too interesting (ie not overwhelm the kids on the spectrum or over stimulate the children with ADHD).”

It was refreshing to hear the concerns from the perspective of the clinician:

That colleagues and teams are busy (and a project such as improving a waiting area is on top of an already full workload). Service delivery on a day to day basis is the priority.

That as a clinician, maybe more so in mental health services, you need to be very confident to entrust your patients/clients into the hands of someone outside the NHS.

That if it wasn’t some of the clinicians’ “cup of tea,” did that really matter? This led onto a really interesting discussion around evaluation.

Of course we assume that evaluation is important. But what exactly are we evaluating?

Is the space improved? Yes the space is improved, but it would have been improved with fresh paint, new carpets and new furniture. What did the ‘art’ do? Actually the art made it more specific, more interesting. The waiting room is now a nicer, more comfortable waiting room, but its also now an interesting waiting room rather than a generic one. It’s got funny bookshelves where each book fits into its own slot.

Maria McCavana and Bill Breckenridge, Waiting Room, CAMHS Gorbals, 2013.  Photo Bill Breckenridge (with permission)

Maria McCavana and Bill Breckenridge, Waiting Room, CAMHS Gorbals, 2013. Photo Bill Breckenridge (with permission)

It’s got an amazing sculptural bush of individual letters sticking out in all directions (top image). The signage has been sorted out to reduce visual clutter.

Maria McCavana and Bill Breckenridge, Waiting Room, CAMHS Gorbals, 2013.  Photo Bill Breckenridge (with permission)

Maria McCavana and Bill Breckenridge, Waiting Room, CAMHS Gorbals, 2013. Photo Bill Breckenridge (with permission)

But let’s be clear, you wouldn’t reproduce exactly this scheme in all the CAMHS waiting rooms across Glasgow. It’s not designed to be literally reproducible. It’s designed to be distinctive. The approach used is definitely reproducible.

Who benefits and how? The brief was drawn up through consultation with staff and users. McCavana and Breckenridge proposed a residency-based approach working with nominated patients/clients of this CAMHS unit. They did a series of workshops over an extended period. McCavana and Breckenridge designed the workshop process and all the activities, and there is a clear development from the workshops to the installed project. If I’d been involved in the workshops, I’d recognise my contribution in the space.

Like many artists interested in participatory and co-creative work, McCavana is articulate about the need to change power relations, to give voice to those who don’t normally have a voice. We’re not talking about art therapy – that’s something different. Grant Kester, one of the key writers on participation and collaboration says,

“In the most successful collaborative projects we encounter instead a pragmatic openness to site and situation, a willingness to engage with specific cultures and communities in a creative and improvisational manner … , a concern with non-hierarchical and participatory processes, and a critical and self-reflexive relationship to practice itself. Another important component is the desire to cultivate and enhance forms of solidarity… .” (The One and The Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context, Duke University Press, 2011, p125)

The discussion following the presentation raised some other issues, including the important role of the ‘host’ in doing this sort of residency based work. This is something that the Artist Placement Group highlighted in the late 60s but continues to be an issue. If an artist is going to work in a context, especially one where there is an existing community, it is essential that someone in that community acts as a host, doing those things a host does. This includes doing the introductions but also discretely making sure that the artist doesn’t step on toes. It means making sure that the artist is included in community activities where appropriate, but also protecting the artist from internal niggles and ongoing wrangles. A member of the audience pointed out that when this works well the host becomes a co-creator of the process.

The other subject that was raised from the floor focused on the extent to which these sorts of projects involving artists in healthcare buildings are actually patching up bad architecture. There was some feeling in the room that this was the case. Of course the specific projects that had been presented were work done in older buildings, but…

What is distinctive is the participatory and co-creative process that artists are using. Although some of the younger architecture practices also do this, the larger more established ones, particularly doing public sector work, are not. Nor would it be easy for them to, given that they are embedded in the supply chain, usually employed by the main contractor, not even the client.

What is also distinctive is the blurring of art, design and architecture. This project could have been done by a young design or interior architecture studio. It’s not the art specifically that makes this distinctive, rather it’s the turn to participation and co-creativity.

There were other good points made from the floor which I haven’t covered here, but the overriding one is that we need more presentations like this, and more time for the ensuing discussions.



UZ Arts is an international arts charity based in Glasgow. We create our own work and collaborate with artists and producers who wish to work across art forms and across borders creating work outside conventional arts venues – often in public space.

We commission artists and support the development of their work through residencies, hothouses and collaborating as their producers or co-producers. In the last 3 years we have commissioned over 60 artists in 8 countries but with more than 50% of the work being made in Scotland.

Much of the work we make or support is sited . That is to say site specific – made for a particular place or site located – made for a particular type of location.
Some of the artists we work with engage with the public either as a source of inspiration or as collaborators in the delivery of their work

Historical example of an artist in residence in a medical school

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on July 30, 2014

Beth Carruthers kindly highlighted this fascinating report by Pam Hall on her residency in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997-99.  It’s interesting reading and in key respects still very relevant.

Reflections on Health Hackathon

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on April 29, 2014

Hacking health in Glasgow (tempted to make a joke about smokers).  Sunday evening 6pm.  After 48 hrs at The Hub on the banks of the Clyde.  Lots of very dried out sandwiches, empty red bull cans and laptops.  Blog posts are always better with pictures.  Sorry I didn’t take one of empty pizza boxes.

But seriously, ten really interesting and pretty diverse approaches to making a difference to health in Glasgow through playing with data. Ten teams all hoping for £20k to get their project off the ground.

The presentations that really worked showed us something in prototype – it was more compelling and somehow we believed that they could deliver. And WOW was the pitch important! Paint a picture in the mind, show us something that looked plausible. Don’t get lost in the tech.

The point was to use open data to innovate. Sometimes that’s making a connection that no-one else has yet made, a bit leftfield. So my two takeaways were:

  • once you have an idea, look again at all the datasets available and see if there is a way to add value.
  • don’t forget the physical environment that you’re focused on – the smartphone isn’t the only interface with the city.
  • and it may seem really obvious but definitely ask the people involved what their challenges are. It’s very compelling when you see the challenges faced by professionals, communities and interest groups being taken into account.

There were strong arguments to support at least half of the pitches, and if you didn’t win it doesn’t mean we weren’t impressed. Some of these projects would make my life better, so I really hope they come through.

This is part of the TSB Future City Demonstrator, You can find my blog in preparation for the Health Hack blog-for-open-glasgow-health-hack-v2.

Scottish artists bring nature into healthcare presentation

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on April 11, 2014

Science and Art Commission

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on April 7, 2014

Outstanding opportunity to **write your own brief** as artist/curator in residence at the new Labs block (incorporating Pathology, Genetics, Microbiology and Blood Science) on the New South Glasgow Hospitals site.

Science and Art Commission.

How can data impact on health?

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on April 4, 2014

Can you think of a way to improve the health of Glasgow?  Do you think that the environment impacts on the health of the people living in the dear green place?  More and more data derived from monitoring all sorts of things is available – do you think that data could make a difference?  Can you imagine how?  If you are a health professional the third of Open Glasgow’s Hackathons.  If your idea is good enough you could get £20,000 to develop it.

The team asked me to write a piece to stir up thinking about data and health – you can read it below.  And it looks like I’m going to be on the judging panel which should be fun.

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AESOP 1 | A Framework for developing and research arts in health programmes

Posted in Arts & Health, News, Research by chrisfremantle on April 4, 2014

If you are interested in planning research and/or evaluation into your arts and health projects, then you need to have a look at this new tool.  The point is that research needs structure, to be done reasonably consistently, and this looks like a very good way to build some consistency.

AESOP 1 | A Framework for developing and research arts in health programmes.

Very much look forward to hearing more about this as it develops.

Digital health comes to the UK | Nesta

Posted in Arts & Health, Research by chrisfremantle on March 20, 2014

If you are interested in things like biosensing and the internet of things (or perhaps people) then this article Digital health comes to the UK | Nesta is very relevant discussions about putting people at the heart of health and well-being.

Some of the ideas are very challenging and we are deeply into the realm of biopolitics (sensors embedded in medication reporting when it’s taken and how it’s digested).  There is no question that the relationship between the body and the world is going to change through various forms of bio-sensing – see for instance the work of Manifest.AR.

I wonder what Michel Foucault would have made of this?  I know Ivan Illich would have fought against it tooth and nail.

Recent publications on art in new healthcare buildings

Posted in Arts & Health, Research, Sited work by chrisfremantle on March 18, 2014

Updated 22 3 2014

This is a short summary of books on arts & health from Glasgow and Scotland that I’m aware of and have on a shelf.  Any reminders and recommendations happily received.  Artists and organisations try to produce books of these projects because firstly they are participatory and durational so sometimes the book is the only tangible outcome, but secondly they are not generally visible to the public beyond immediate communities hosting the projects, so this is the only means of showing what happened and why it mattered.

There have been several books produced to document arts projects in new healthcare buildings in Glasgow.  These join the books produced by Art in Hospital highlighting their long term work with patients.  Also included in this provisional bibliography are other books of Scottish projects.

Space to Heal: Humanity in Healthcare Design. (2009) is published by Reiach and Hall Architects, and reflects their thinking at the time they completed the New Stobhill Hospital.  Includes essays by Andy Law (Architect) and Thomas A Clark (poet).

The Grace of the Birch: Art Nature Healing, the Collection for the Ward Block, New Stobhill Hospital (2011).  Edited by Dr Lindsay Blair documents the new Collection of artworks forming a ‘choosing wall’.  Probably available from Reiach and Hall (above) or Jackie Sands (below).

Aware of Time: Art Poetry Healing, Renfrew Health and Social Work Centre (2012).  Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board.  ISBN 978-1-906150-17-4.  Documentation of the project with Richard Dunn and Toby Paterson, curated by Dr Lindsay Blair.  Probably available from Reiach and Hall (above) or from Jackie Sands, Arts & Health Senior, Health Improvement, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, West House, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 OXH.

Dignified Spaces: Designing Rooms for conversations within the clinical environment. (2013)  Alexander Hamilton’s catalogue associated with the exhibition/website on the Dignified Spaces project for the New South Glasgow Hospitals, setting out design ethos and participation programme.  Available as download (catalogue dignified spaces), or from Jackie Sands (as above).  This project was also presented at the European Design 4 Health Conference, Sheffield, 2013 and will be included in the proceedings.

Art in Hospital publications
If they are still available, they can be obtained from Art in Hospital (Order form here – contact details on the website).

“I’ll be doing this sky in my dreams tonight” Art in Hospital (2006).  Published by Art in Hospital.  This is an excellent overview of the work of this organisation which has been working with patients in hospitals in Glasgow since 1991.

Object Scores, Kirsty Stansfield and Art in Hospital (2007).  Published by Art in Hospital.  Documents, through reproducing an extended email exchange, the Object Scores project.

The Pattern of a Bird. (2008). Published by Art in Hospital. ISBN 13 978-0-9554440-2-9.  Documentation and essays on arts in palliative care.

Artlink Edinburgh publications

A number are available electronically from the website.

200 Years 200 Objects. Mark Dion. (2013).  Published by Artlink Edinburgh and Lothians.  ISBN 978-0955188268.  Part of the Ever Present Past project.

Extraordinary Everday: Explorations in Collaborative Art in Healthcare.  (2005). Published by Artlink Edinburgh ISBN 978-0-9551882-0-6.  Documenting and discussion the Functionsuite programme of work, 14 collaborative art projects that took place in hospitals across Edinburgh and the Lothians between 2003 and 2005.

Something in the Pause (2009) Nicola White.  Published by Artlink Edinburgh ISBN 978-0-9551882-2-0 and available electronically as above.  A story about an artist, and infomatics specialist and a man with a liking for music.

Other Scottish

The Sanctuary: The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh: A space designed by Donald Urquhart. (2003). Published by Ginkgo Projects ISBN 1-904443-01-X  Documents the award winning Sanctuary at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.  Copies might be available from Ginkgo Projects.

ARTworks Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital 2006-2009.  Published by Grampian Hospital Art Trust. documents the participatory work leading to installed artworks in the new Children’s Hospital in Aberdeen.  It should be available from The Archie Foundation or from the Grampian Hospital Art Trust.

Creative Therapies.  Undated, self-published. Documentation of their art therapy work with East Dunbartonshire and South Ayrshire Councils which is probably available from them.

Art in Salutogenic Design Dominic Pote

Posted in Arts & Health, Research, Sited work by chrisfremantle on March 16, 2014

This blog by Dominic Pote discusses well-being and how artworks can contribute to a sense of health.  It draws on ideas of ‘coherence’ as a way to understand health and well-being.  Well worth reading Art in Salutogenic Design | by Dominic Pote Fine-art photographer.

Presenting at Enhancing Lives Through Arts & Health, Houston, TX

Posted in Arts & Health, CF Writing, Producing, Research, Sited work, Texts by chrisfremantle on March 7, 2014

My proposal for a paper “Scottish artists bring nature into healthcare” has been accepted for the Global Alliance for Arts & Health 25th Conference in Houston, Texas in April.

The abstract is,

Scotland has a strong portfolio of arts and health projects including both public art installations within healthcare buildings and participatory programmes, in particular with people with long term conditions. This presentation will focus on public art installations by artists and designers which use biophilic and other design approaches to bringing nature into buildings. It addresses the conference themes of Patient Care, Healing Environments and Caring for Caregivers.

It is well known thanks to the work of Robert Ulrich that views of nature contribute to patient recover, and it is clear from the work of Stephen Kaplan that views of nature can play a role in restoring our ability to give our attention. OPENspace Research at Edinburgh College of Art ( ) has further substantiated the connections between nature and wellbeing focusing on inclusive access to the outdoors.

In Scotland there have been a number of projects in the context of Healthcare where artists and designers have specifically sought to use art and design to bring nature into buildings in addition to what the architects and landscape designers are able to achieve.

Four key examples are:

Thomas A Clark’s ( project with the architects Reiach & Hall, ‘A Grove of Larch in a Forest of Birch,’ for the New Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow integrated poetry and visual arts into what the architects described as the architecture of waiting. The Aim was to create spaces in which users of the hospital could wait for appointments in “a place apart having the brightness and stillness of a woodland glade.”

Alexander Hamilton’s ( Designing for Dignity ( is an approach that draws on a deep understanding of the Victorian poet and artist John Ruskin and of the more recent Biophilia Hypothesis. Hamilton is currently developing designs including furniture and art for the Quiet or Family rooms in the New South Glasgow Hospitals based on an extensive programme of creative engagement. Hamilton is also working on the design of a healthcentre in Glasgow.

Dalziel + Scullion’s ( practice is increasingly focused on addressing nature deficit disorder. Their work encompasses exhibitions and public art. Their scheme for the wards of the New South Glasgow Hospitals will bring the whole landscape of Scotland into one building. Their project Rosnes Benches, currently being installed in the landscape of Dumfries and Galloway, they have also contributed work to the Vale of Leven Health Centre (

Donald Urquhart has completed public art projects for four mental health hospitals including most recently Midpark Acute Mental Health Hospital ( and developed Sanctuary spaces for both hospitals and universities. His award winning design for the Sanctuary at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has become a benchmark (

These artists and others demonstrate key aspects of the role of art in bringing nature into healthcare contexts including focus on characteristics of nature such as colour, pattern and movement. As artists they use attention, framing and synthesis.

In addition to sharing these developments with the conference audience I hope to identify other artists exploring similar issues.

I’m very much hoping to find other artists and designers working along these lines with the depth of thinking as well as the quality of work.

La mia Cura Open Source / My Open Source Cure

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on February 19, 2014

“We can transform the meaning of the word “cure”. We can transform the role of knowledge. We can be human.”
Salvatore Iaconesi

Salvatore’s diagonsis with brain cancer has led to his open sourcing of his medicalisation by cracking the digital files associated with his Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, and inviting anyone to contribute to his cure.  Of course he had surgery, and the point of the process is not whether any one suggestion was more likely to be successful, but rather that he opened up the process to a shared dialogue demonstrating FLOSS principles.  He argues that this enabled him to be human again at a point where he had disappeared in the industrialised process of healthcare.

La mia Cura Open Source / My Open Source Cure and the project page on Art is Open Source including links to the extensive press coverage.

What art have I seen?

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on February 18, 2014

Foreign Bodies, Common Ground at the Wellcome Trust.  The exhibition is extended to 16 March and is well worth a visit.  There are some outstanding works, including in particular Katie Paterson’s Fossil Necklace, Miriam Syowia Kyambi and James Muriuki’s Pata Picha Photo Studio, but also Zwelethu Mthethwa’s participatory photography project focused on ‘impilo engcono’ (good health).

Grant to provide, promote or publicise health

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on February 11, 2014

Scottish Government grant funding to national voluntary organisations which provide, promote or publicise health or health-related services.  The list of previous grants includes several arts organisations as well as a number working in the environment.  National Voluntary Organisations 16b Grants.

Illuminating art, design and health

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions, Research by chrisfremantle on January 29, 2014

Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad,  Sun, 2012 - photo courtesy of Marres

Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad,
Sun, 2012 – photo courtesy of Marres

Two interesting trajectories across the need for light particularly in winter.  The one is a blog from the Wellcome Trust on research being undertaken by their Research Fellow, Dr Tania Woloshyn, on the history of phototherapy, and the other is an exhibition at Marres House for Contemporary Culture in the Netherlands entitled Winter Anti Depression where they have created an Art Resort, a sensory environment in response to the winter.

The idea that the lack of sunlight affects those of us living in northern climates is not new, and research into the history of treatments highlights the complexity of the amount of sunlight that is healthy.

The exhibition demonstrates a number of art and design approaches to activating the senses.  Different works explore different senses from textured surfaces that you feel through your feet, to sounds to cocoon you in your bed, to light and colour.  The installation comprising a range of yellows is particularly evocative (see below).

Light and colour are increasingly significant in the design of healthcare contexts.  New technologies such as ‘Sky Ceilings’ and lightboxes can bring a feeling of daylight into rooms that lack windows.  The ‘temperature’ of light, especially with the increasing availability of LED bulbs, is enabling much more sophisticated design of environments.  But what is clear is that light and colour are not ‘universals’.  On the one hand their meaning is culturally informed, and as these examples highlight, also informed by seasonality.  We might want healthcare to be 24/7, but our bodies respond to seasonality just as they do to day and night.

Katja Gruijters Saint John's wort Lab, 2014, photography Jonas de Witte Courtesy of Marres

Katja Gruijters
Saint John’s wort Lab, 2014, photography Jonas de Witte Courtesy of Marres

Architects for Health’s Presentations on SlideShare

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on December 27, 2013

PearsonLloyd hospital redesign “reduces violence by 50 percent”

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on December 24, 2013

Providing easily understood information in a well designed and clear form about the stages of your hospital visit, whether that’s the Emergency Department or Outpatients, can reduce stress for patients and according to this article, PearsonLloyd hospital redesign “reduces violence by 50 percent”.  Thanks to Alexander Hamilton for highlighting this important project.


Nairn Primary Care Centre

Posted in Arts & Health, News, Sited work by chrisfremantle on December 23, 2013

Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson have made two new works for the Nairn Primary Care Centre, in a project managed by IOTA.  They have installed two elements:

Little Birds connects the inside with the outside, building on recent research into the impact of birdsong on wellbeing.  You can see the work here.

Hand Heart Head is an eight screen video installation developed with the choreographer and dancer Janice Parker.  Have a look here.

Recent Public Art Install

Posted in Arts & Health, Sited work by chrisfremantle on December 5, 2013

What a lovely, simple and effective idea from Ally Wallace – a great response to the architecture and courtyards of the new Hospital in Bristol. Very much look forward to seeing the rest of the scheme

Ally Wallace

The recent install of my public art piece for Bristol’s new Southmead Hospital.  Nine painted aluminium discs atop posts, protruding from planting, to be viewed through windows of upper floors.  The building opens in March 2014.



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What art have I seen?

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on September 24, 2013

Leonardo da Vinci: the Mechanics of Man, Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh.  An in depth presentation on Leonardo’s anatomical studies.  Remarkable drawing when as they point out he was using a goose feather – it’s incredibly even and tidy and smaller than you expect.  But then it’s clear from the audio guide that present day anatomists are deeply impressed with his skill – they comment on how precisely the skull is bisected and then transected.  They also comment on how easy it is to get septicemia particularly from the organs of the digestive tract, and that cleanliness and accuracy are key (not things one normally associates with the Renaissance or perhaps with artists?).  There are references to where Leonardo was getting it wrong: he still thought that the arteries and veins were two separate systems – he hadn’t quite got to the circulation of blood, though he was clearly very close.  The exhibition could have had more in depth interpretation – there is a huge amount of information on each page, but they have produced an ipad app which allows you to see each page, pan and zoom as you would expect, but also with provide a translation of all the text on the page in position.

The Institute of Unnecessary Research (Culinary Arts – Lucy McCabe)

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on September 15, 2013

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Rural Health and Creative Community Engagement – University of the Highlands and Islands –

Posted in Arts & Health, News, Research by chrisfremantle on September 6, 2013

Just saw this on – another important development.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Rural Health and Creative Community Engagement – University of the Highlands and Islands –

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (PDRF), funded until June 2016, to conduct qualitative work within Highland. The work will explore the nature of the relationships between rural community life, identity, health and well-being.

The post is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council as part of a large grant in the Connected Communities Programme, led by Prof. Gareth Williams at Cardiff University. The overarching aim of the project is to establish how community representations produced through creative arts practices (e.g. storytelling, performance, visual art) can be used as forms of evidence to inform health-related policy and service development. Through analysis of existing representations of communities in literature, film etc. and the production of new community self-representations, the work will explore the relationship between ‘official’ representations of community health and well-being (e.g. in statistical data) and how communities understand and present their own health and well-being.

The project will take place across five distinct case-study communities in Wales, Scotland and England. This post will be based within the UHI Department of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Science (Inverness) and affiliated with the Centre for Rural Health (a joint research centre for UHI and the University of Aberdeen). The PDRF will be report to Dr. Sarah-Anne Munoz who is leading the remote and rural work within the larger project. The PDRF will carry out a remote and rural community case study to feed into the wider project. As one of several PDRFs appointed to the project, the successful candidate will be expected to collaborate with the other PDRFs and members of the academic team. This will involve attending team meetings throughout the UK.

The post involves a focus on understanding and gathering existing representations of a Highland community; both artistic (e.g. in literature) and formal (e.g. statistics) and then using creative engagement methods (e.g. life mapping, storytelling and deep mapping) to work with community members to generate new self-representations. This work will be in partnership with arts and health organisations/professionals.

The successful candidate will have a PhD in a health humanities area relevant to the project themes and have experience of carrying out qualitative research. Experience of using participatory and/or creative methods would be beneficial.

The closing date is Sunday 29 September 2013 and interviews will be held on 15 October 2013 in Inverness.

Velocity Talks 19 September

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on August 28, 2013

Jackie Sands, Arts & Health Senior, Health Improvement, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and I (as Project Manager for Ginkgo Projects) have been asked to give one of the Velocity Talks.  It’s take place at the Lighthouse in Glasgow on the 19th of September, its free, but please book a place here.

Jackie will talk about the 6 year public art strategy she’s implemented across now perhaps 10 new healthcare facilities, and I’ll talk about the strategy for the New South Glasgow Hospitals as a key example.

The Patient as Person Full Report

Posted in Arts & Health, News by chrisfremantle on June 27, 2013

In May Donald Urquhart asked me to do a presentation on his behalf at a conference called ‘The Patient as Person’ hosted at the Albertus Institute in Edinburgh.  They have just published the full report here.

Along side other presentations on the policy context and the philosophical issues I presented on the physical environment and how Donald Urquhart creates human spaces in healthcare contexts.  Obviously Donald isn’t the only person/artist/designer working this way or tackling these challenges, but it was very useful to focus on one practice and the key issues that one process of research and development has highlighted.  What is the expression?  “Other artists are available”?

Interview with Alec Finlay on Navigations

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on June 19, 2013

Afternow- the future of health

Posted in Arts & Health, Research by chrisfremantle on June 10, 2013

AFTERnow is a collaborative enquiry into the impact of modern culture on health involving Professor Phil Hanlon, Dr. Sandra Carlisle, Dr. David Reilly, Dr. Andrew Lyon and Dr. Margaret Hannah. Our work was funded for six years by the National Programme for Improving Mental Health and Well-being in Scotland and supported by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

As the era of seemingly endless growth comes to an end, we all need to find new ways to live our daily lives. How do we redefine ‘prosperity’ in this new world? How do we imagine and then create a future that is profoundly different from the way we live today? There is a growing realisation that we all have to learn how to live with less. So what’s the answer? How should we live?

A Sense of Someplace

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on June 7, 2013

Lindsay Perth’s two year residency with NHS Forth Valley has resulted in a book of photomontages, A Sense of Someplace, made in collaboration with people using the mental health services.  There is a launch event on the evening of 13 June at Streetlevel in Glasgow also featuring audio artist Mark Vernon.

No Flowers on the Psych Ward

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on May 28, 2013

ESRC Arts, Health & Wellbeing Research

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on April 29, 2013

Highlighted through the London Arts in Health Forum‘s newsletter:

Welcome to the Arts, Health & Wellbeing programme.  We are a thematic, multidisciplinary programme funded by the Economic and Social Research Council aiming to develop understandings of how the arts may contribute to health and wellbeing.

We also aim to facilitate a UK network of academics, service users and practitioners to help develop research projects of the highest quality and of national and international significance.


Project Ginsberg

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on April 29, 2013

Project Ginsberg highlighted in the Alt-w mailing from New Media Scotland

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness
Howl Part 1, Allen Ginsberg 1956

Project Ginsberg’s vision is a future where every Scottish citizen who experiences common mental health problems has a wide range of interventions available to them.

People with common mental health problems may look like they are coping – they walk the dog, look after their children, go to work – but the reality is that for those with common mental health problems the experience is chronic; resulting in months and years of feeling like they aren’t coping with life.

Project Ginsberg is about helping to define, design and prototype the vision of a range of effective interventions for the people of Scotland, with a focus on exploring the role of everyday web and mobile technology, and alternatives to the traditional patient-clinician model.

We think there is a huge opportunity to improve people’s life experience through rethinking our approach to common mental health problems, especially by using technology in ways that fit around people’s everyday lives.

The work is driven by Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy 2012-2015, which commits to developing a Scotland-wide approach to improving mental health through new technology in collaboration with NHS 24.

Brian Eno’s new work for a hospital

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on April 25, 2013

Beautiful piece on Radio 4’s Today programme Friday 19th April talking about Brian Eno’s new work for a hospital in Hove.  It absolutely captured all the thoughts about our experiences of hospitals.  It was also reported in the Independent here.

Body Pods podcast

Posted in Arts & Health by chrisfremantle on December 10, 2012

Each podcast in this series, co-produced by Fuel and Roundhouse, has been made by an artist in collaboration with a scientist, exploring a different part of the human body.

Body Pods podcast | Culture | The Guardian.

What art have I seen?

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 9, 2012

Sensory Maps by Kate McLean

Posted in Arts & Health, Sited work by chrisfremantle on September 10, 2012

Sensory Mapping of Cities – a smell map of Glasgow is a must.

Glasgow’s smells are of movement, of reinvention, of rebuilding, of regeneration. A city of renewal. Researched with contributions from author Michael Meighan (author of “Glasgow Smells” and “Glasgow Smells Better”) as well as commuters, residents, workers, tourists, the Glasgow City council. To be displayed and sniffed at the Glasgow Science Centre from September 2012.

It’s worth exploring the website – City of the Eternal Itinerant, Sensory Map of the Barras, Glasgow and the smelliest block in NYC this summer.

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