Last year I had a solo show at Medicine Unboxed (Voice) at the Parabola Arts Centre (Cheltenham). It was one of the most interesting and provocative events I have ever been too, curated by the amazing Dr. Sam Guglani and a team of brilliant technicians, patrons and contributors. It was a weekend in which the arts were used as an active part of a wide ranging discussion about cutting edge questions within Medicine, with Voice the thematic link of the conference. It is an annual conference with a different theme each year.
I had gone along feeling slightly tentative as the role the arts normally play in such events it decorative or clumsily instrumental, with often a crass understanding of the more nuanced and important role the art and culture can have in being part of such vital conversations. Medicine Unboxed was a total exception to this, it integrated the various voices wonderfully, to provide an illuminated weekend of talks and conversations. Raymond Tallis was brilliantly entertaining (as are his books), Eleanor Longden and Bob Heath were utterly inspirational, Jo Shapcott’s responses to Rilke were perhaps the sexiest poetry I have heard live, Jackie Kay had me in stitches and tears, Melanie Pappenheim was magically playful and Fi Glover had the entire audience weeping. Roger Taylor and Lionel Shriver both provoked outrage, the first for her purposefully ascerbic and controversial stances and the later for his small role in the wider ideological and disastrous reforms of the NHS.
For now the exciting announcement is about a unique opportunity for artists from all disciplines. The 2014 Medicine Unboxed event will see the launch of a major nationwide arts prize, which looks to provide the impetus for artists of all disciplines to illuminate the relationship between medicine and the arts. I am delighted to say I will be on the judging panel with Jo Shapcott, Jocelyn Pook, Rhidian Brook and John Carey.
The prize is unique in that it is not prescriptive over how it wants this dialogue to take place, it is putting the power in the hands of the artists. Artists are encouraged at the first stage to submit a write proposal of the type of work they want to make, outlining how it will engage with a particular aspect of medicine.
Expressions of interest close 1 JUNE 2014. The Medicine Unboxed Creative Prize 2014 is a competition for a creative work of any kind that illuminates the relationship between the arts and medicine. The winner of the prize will receive £10,000.
Medicine Unboxed: is a project arising from a view that good medicine demands more than scientific and technical expertise, and that it necessitates ethical judgment, an understanding of human experience, empathy, professionalism and wisdom.
Medicine Unboxed is a not-for-profit organisation that has held five international conferences (Unboxing Medicine, 2009; Stories, Language and Medicine, 2010; Medicine and Values, 2011; Belief, 2012; Voice, 2013) in Cheltenham, UK. The aim of Medicine Unboxed is to explore “understanding medicine through the arts and humanities”, and engage the public and front-line National Health Service staff with a view of medicine that is infused and elaborated by the humanities, with a view to promoting dialogue around the goals and values of medicine within society. Contributors to the conferences include artists, writers, the clergy, poets, philosophers, lawyers, linguists, musicians, theatre, ethicists, academics and doctors.
Tom de Freston
Tom de Freston is an artist based in Oxford with his wife, Kiran Millwood Hargrave.
His practice is dedicated to the construction of multimedia worlds, combining paintings, film and performance into immersive visceral narratives.