Collaborations with diverse artists explore how our  findings can be examined/communicated via different media/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.

Seth Oliver

Seth Oliver

Visual art: Tim Sanders’ images highlight ethical dilemmas relating to disorders of consciousnessSeth Oliver’s canvases explore ways of  provoking new imagining of ‘coma’, challenging mainstream (mis)conceptions.  Jacky Fleming  produced cartoons exploring some of the more ludicrous aspects highlighted in family accounts – such as the cartoon below, representing two interviewees’ description of the closest they had come to having a ‘best interests’ discussion about their son’s treatment.

This is not a Best Interests meeting

Puppet head & shadow

Puppet head & shadow

Shadow Puppets: We  worked with Karin Jashapara, and ‘playoflight’ theatre to create a theatre piece  drawing on our research findings. This has toured across the UK at conferences, care homes, hospital and art centres (See events). See the programme for details of the performance and its development 

Music:   We shared our research findings and interview extracts (including original audio) with composer Eliza Gregory who created a doom metal 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. We also worked with PhD students at the Cardiff School of Music developing new compositions putting some of the interview texts and postcards  to music for the ‘Being Human Festival’

Digital story-telling:  Dr Jenny Kidd and Prof. Jenny Kitzinger worked with Lisa Heledd Jones (storyworksuk) to develop short, creative films about serious brain injury using personal stories.

The 'Postcard' exhibition on display at the BMA

The ‘Postcard’ exhibition on display at the BMA

‘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,  including giving him access to some of the  (anonymised) interview transcripts with family members. James has written three sonnets exploring aspects of brain injury or ‘coma’ from different viewpoints.




He gave an inaugural reading of all three at the ‘Before I Die Festival’ in Cardiff in 2013 and has subsequently included them in readings across the UK.  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]

Our Radio programme

BBC radio: we were  commissioned to develop four  radio programmes. The first was on Advance Decisions. The second,  , ‘Coma Songs’,  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). Our third programme, for Radio Wales, interwove voices from our interviews with legal/clinical information to engage listeners in an imaginative journey through the injury trajectory. Our 4th programme is for the BBC World Service and looks at the situation in diverse countries.