Our collaborations with diverse artists explore how our findings can be examined and communicated through different media and genres to engage people in dialogue with the research. Thanks to seedcorn funding from Cardiff University and C2D2 funding from the University of York (combined with a commission from Radio 3), we have developed the following initiatives.
Visual art: Tim Sanders is developing illustrations highlighting a range of ethical dilemmas relating to disorders of consciousness. Jacky Fleming is producing cartoons exploring some of the more ludicrous & surreal aspects of disorders of consciousness highlighted in family accounts. Seth Oliver is exploring how to provoke new imagining of 'coma' through drawing and 'assemblages' which challenge mainstream (mis)conceptions.
Shadow Puppets: We are working with Karin Jashapara, and her shadow puppet company - 'playoflight' theatre. This is generating new stories and visualisations about coma, consciousness and decision-making drawing on our research findings. The first full performance was given in April 2015 - a tour will follow. See events
Music: We shared our research findings and interview extracts (including original audio) with composer Eliza Gregory who created a doom metal musical composition designed to evoke the sense of dread that permeates many descriptions provided by families of people in PVS and MCS. Samples of Eliza Gregory's work can be heard here and here.
Digital story-telling: Dr Jenny Kidd and Prof. Jenny Kitzinger are working with Lisa Heledd Jones (storyworksuk) to develop short, creative films about serious brain injury.
'The Postcard Exhibition': a travelling exhibition of words and images chosen by our research participants. Our interviewees were invited to write short messages on a postcard - communicating a key aspect of their experience, or message they wanted to get across. They also often chose images that meant something to them. The resulting exhibits make a very powerful collection, and we have taken the exhibition around conferences and to diverse professional sites (e.g. the British Medical Association headquarters)
For discussion of our 'Consciousness and coma' exhibition - read the evaluation of one event here: Exhibition evaluation - or view the short film showing responses from those who came along here
Poetry: We collaborated with the poet, James Nash, via intensive discussions about family experience of coma and by giving him access to some of the 65+ (anonymised) interview transcripts with family members. James has written three sonnets exploring aspects of coma from different viewpoints.
He gave an inaugural reading of all three at the ‘Before I Die Festival' in Cardiff in 2013 and is reading them again at the 'Before I Die Festival' in York in May 2014. James Nash says: "I have worked with visual artists, musicians and composers in the past and each collaborative experience has been immensely enriching. But this was an unusual collaboration and a very powerful challenge. Like most commissions of substance the writing had many scary moments. One wants to say something ‘true’ and powerful but also show respect to those whose experience is more personal, more ‘real’ than one’s own as an imaginative writer." [James Nash]
BBC radio: we were commissioned to develop two two radio programmes. One was on Advance Decisions and the another called, 'Coma Songs'. The latter was for Radio 3 and used voices from our interviews combined with the specially developed poetry and doom metal music to challenge conventional imaginings of a 'coma' and to explore debates about ethics - this was broadcast October 2014. (Illustration by Tim Sanders)