Blog post written by Gemma Goodall (Norway AHECRN Area Representative)
On Wednesday 12th July, Arts and Dementia PhD Students were invited to the Wellcome Hub, home to Created Out of Mind. Created Out of Mind is an interdisciplinary team of collaborators aiming to explore, challenge and shape perceptions and understanding of dementias through science and the creative arts.
Created Out of Mind’s first PhD networking event was held in January, which saw researchers of various backgrounds attend to share their work and ideas with one another. Key discussion points from the day included the challenge of situating the arts in a clinical field, helping people in the ‘now’, and the significance of language surrounding research, the arts, and dementia.
July’s event was an opportunity to discuss and reflect on our progress since the last meeting. The day began with an introduction and presentation from TAnDem intern and Created Out of Mind collaborator Gemma Goodall, who gave an update on Created Out of Mind’s activity over the last few months. There was an interesting discussion surrounding the themes that had arisen in Created Out of Mind’s collaborator day: reflection, diversity and connection. We thought about how these areas can be applied to our own research.
Gemma and UCL student Millie Van Der Byl Williams then discussed their work on Created Out of Mind’s research project on historical representations of dementia. They invited the group to take a look at the data they had collected from the archives of Ticehurst Asylum, which included fascinating quotes and images from some of the patients. Through exploring this 19th century material we reflected upon how our understanding and perceptions of dementia have changed throughout time.
PhD students then had the opportunity to discuss some of their own work. Research topics (all of which were dementia-focused) included surveillance technology, multisensory gardens, arts apps, fashion textiles, and the philosophy of ‘self’. Through the bringing together of different individuals with various research backgrounds, we were able to share unique perspectives and advice on each other’s work. This highlighted that interdisciplinarity should be embraced throughout the whole journey of developing as a researcher.
The second part of the day consisted of a workshop led by Created Out of Mind’s resident artist Charlie Murphy. We had the wonderful opportunity to experiment with language and metaphor in the form of terracotta wax pressing and letterpress printing. Not only did this offer a space for creativity, but it offered a space for reflection. Discussion topics from January’s event were resonant throughout this workshop, particularly in regards to the power of anecdotes and personal experiences.
With the theme of reflection in mind, attendees were invited to share their thoughts on the meet ups. Here are a couple of insightful reflections from two PhD researchers:
“For me the meet ups have been really beneficial, having a space in which we can talk through our projects and learn from each other is so useful. Hearing of everyone’s work allows you to not only offer different perspectives, it also allows you to reflect on your own work and question and critique it with fresh eyes. This is particularly useful in our case as we all share an overarching research topic. After the letter pressing with Charlie I think we need to build in a creative session to every meet up as it made the space feel very free and open - (we should practice what we preach!)”- Rebecka Fleetwood-Smith, University of West London
“It is always fruitful when “PhD-ers” get together and discuss their work. Not only does this enable you as a researcher to get the latest details in the field, it is a fun experience to learn about new methods. Further, it creates the perfect opportunity to test your work and to ask fellow students some general of specific questions.” - Yvette Vermeer, University College London
For all the latest updates on news and events from Created Out of Mind, you can visit their website www.createdoutofmind.org or follow them on twitter @CreatedHub. If you would like more information on becoming connected with other arts and dementia PhD students, please contact Gemma Goodall at email@example.com
Thanks so much to Gemma for writing this piece for the blog. If you are interested in blogging about an event please get in touch.