Each painting in ‘The Human Comedy’ series by James Pryde (1866-1941) depicts a facet of the human condition alongside a trademark imposing large four-poster bed. From that series, this exhibition at the City Art Centre features ‘The Red Bed’ (1916) from the City of Edinburgh collection, alongside work from Lothian Health Services Archive and the Alt-w Fund.
The legacy of Scottish neurosurgeon Prof Norman Dott (1897-1973) guides the exhibition. Originally an engineer, he retrained in medicine following a long spell in hospital recovering from a motorcycle accident. He constantly innovated with respect to his designs for neuroscience including the design and creation of the spherical Dott operating theatre at Edinburgh’s Western General.
In addition to works from the partners’ collections, a major focus of the exhibition is the current work of the NHS Lothian's Art & Therapeutic Design programme and winners of the Alt-w Production Award. Exploring the activity and research interests of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience (DCN) in Edinburgh, Susana Cámara Leret, Tomoko Hayashi, Stacey Hunter, Gavin Inglis, Jack King-Spooner, Alex Menzies, Aidan Moesby, Florence To and Sven Werner present their work across design, music, graphic novels, film including interactive elements and 3D design.
The exhibition forms part of NHS Lothian's Beyond Walls programme of art and therapeutic design, which is curated by Ginkgo Projects and funded by the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation. The Alt-w LAB at the City Art Centre has hosted a series of fellowships and residencies as part of this programme.
The City Art Centre is owned and managed by City of Edinburgh Council. From 1 June it extends its opening hours to seven days a week 10am to 5pm. Entry to the exhibition is free.
NHS Lothian's Art & Therapeutic Design programme and winners of the Alt-w Production Award artist contributions:
Susana Cámara Leret
DCN Creative Research Artist Fellowship - Design
Throughout her fellowship, Susana Cámara Leret has been researching health ecologies and the process of olfaction, from the remarkable ability of Joy Milne, who can diagnose Parkinson's Disease by smell alone, to exploring how fragrance on a molecular level can trigger memory.
Working with the radiology department at DCN, she has created 'The Smell of Onyx: Aspirations', a series of hand blown glass vessels containing the breath of patients who have undergone embolization treatment for Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs) of the brain and spinal cord.
Alex Menzies & Florence To
DCN Creative Research Artist Fellowship - Music
Musician and composer Alex Menzies regularly collaborates with art director and installation artist Florence To. They are collaborating on a special performative installation in the unique spherical Dott Theatres after the DCN has moved from the Western General to Little France.
Alex has created a pervasive twelve channel audio work for the exhibition that explores his research into music therapy. Florence presents OCM_01, an animation for Sedition, that visualises a tangible sense of gravity and the psychological effects of experiencing a full dome environment.
DCN Creative Research Artist Fellowship - Language & Cognition
Gavin Inglis is a writer of games and fiction. He created the interactive story 'Hana Feels' for Cycle 09 of the Alt-w Fund. He began his fellowship by exploring neurofiction, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), artificial intelligence and generative fiction using neural nets.
The exhibition will include work in progress on a graphic novel entitled 'Not There' that explores functional neurological disorders. He has collaborated with Consultant Neurologist Dr Jon Stone and illustrator Fin Cramb to create this work, to be published in both print and digital formats.
DCN Mentoring Residency - I am in a hare's likeness now
Artist Jack King-Spooner creates strange and wonderful things. During his residency he looked at ideas concerning hope and false hope within the framework of personal wellbeing, focused on Victorian spiritualism and Scottish witchcraft from the early 20th century.
Quackery through the ages, inadvertent acts of mindfulness and placebo effects were also explored. A facet of this research examined how engaging in an activity, although fraudulent or unproven, could prove worthwhile. He presents an 'amusement' arcade machine and book.
DCN Mentoring Residency - Observer Cinema
During his residency filmmaker Sven Werner created an installation and accompanying audio work. It tells the story of a man who, to his own surprise, finds he has a peculiar gift: he is able to recognise and inhabit the blind angles of people’s attention so that he becomes to all eyes invisible.
He learns to move past hundreds of people every day while staying entirely unnoticed. He slowly becomes accustomed to inhabiting these hidden spaces and empty folds of daily life, until he decides to abandon his mundane existence to live only under the radar of the public’s attention.
DCN Mentoring Residency - Design and personal and social identity
Stacey Hunter is a producer, curator and writer. In exploring how healthcare environments have implications for patients in terms of their identity and sense of self, she has been thinking about how the depersonalising effect of clinical environments might be positively counteracted.
As a design specialist, Stacey started with ideas of the 'dressing table' and 'vanity unit'. The residency then considered the accoutrements we surround ourselves with to communicate or sustain our 'best self', using international best practice as a resource and reference point.
Cycle 09 Alt-w Production Award - Sagacity
The Small Society Lab at Dundee Contemporary Arts worked with artist Aidan Moesby to construct a reflexive barometer of wellbeing, initially for Dundee, that provides a space – real, imagined or virtual – to reflect on ‘how things are’ and how can they be maintained or improved.
'The Periodic Table of Emotions' has now created multiple visible manifestations of the attitude and mood of many different people and places including hospitals, nurturing many ongoing personal connections. Use the hashtag #redbedfeels to engage with the work in the exhibition.
Cycle 06 Alt-w Production Award - Mutsugoto
Mutsugoto is a prototype body-drawing communication device intended for people who find themselves in long distance relationships. It allows partners to communicate through the language of touch as expressed in light on the canvas of the human body.
A custom projection system allows the two users to draw on each other's bodies whilst they lie in bed. Drawings are transmitted live between their two locations, enabling a different kind of communication that leverages the emotional quality of physical gesture.