Beyond my Brain is an interactive exhibition exploring what it means to grow up with brain injury from a range of perspectives - those of the child, the family member, the teacher, the scientist and the artist.
In June 2016 London Brain Project brought together children with brain injury, their families, artists, clinicians, teachers and scientists to create collaborative artworks that capture the many stories of growing up with brain injury. The collection responds to the diverse conversations and feelings surrounding the complexities of brain injury.
Lamellar shrouds and micaceous fragments
Oven drying and air drying clay, gold thread, various fabrics, bamboo, fabric paint
150cm x 260 cm
During the workshop the participants made beads, each colour was assigned an emotion: Orange=Angry, Red=Bright, Pink=Happy, Yellow=Sunny full of energy, White=Love, Purple=Positive, Grey=Scared, Black=Sad, Blue=Cheerful, Brown=Grumpy, Green=Disgusting, Turquoise =Worried
We went through our day and placed the beads that we feel in the order of the day, this opened up the discussion. This is the top layer -the one we don't mind sharing about at first.The rest of the layers are the more confusing ones.There are layers of fabric representing different layers of experience, the viewers are invited to move the curtains and assign their own interpretation to the other layers. Sometimes there are new beads and feelings trapped or held in those spaces.
The first panel is a composition of the individual collages put together by the participants. The individual collages are arranged in relation to each other speaking to each other like a visual conversation.
The second panel is the artist response to the art made and to the conversations that occurred during the workshop. Cut-up elements of the collages are layered with transparent paper and sewn into seemingly at random. At each intersection of paper and thread, there is a discrete written word. The thread links the words that stood out for the artist, from the conversation with participants, creating a web over the cut up collages. The web of thread is a reference to neural pathways in the brain.
Intuitive mark making, digital photographs and a range of brain tracking diagrams have been merged together - considering key the themes: shape, form and obscure juxtapositions. Marks have been applied onto acetate and cartridge paper, later transformed through scanning into large scale photographic negatives prepared for dark room printing. Patients and scientists prepared the layers, photographed key themes and suggested potential layers for the experimental dark room process.
Inspired by the Beyond my Brain workshop. Rutie Borthwick in this work responds to the very frank and open conversations she had with families and young people with brain injuries and neuroscientists. She became aware of how much is unknown and there was a strong feeling of uncertainty throughout the discussions. Patients expressed a lack of clarity finding a way to adjust with their peers, and their own expectations as their brain develops with their condition. Families were finding it difficult to get the support they needed within the societal structures, but there was a constant perseverance to find their place, to connect with their child who had the injury, and seek more understanding from the medical field. Finally the scientists were pursuing unchartered waters and continually trying to learn more from the different conditions both academically and from face to face interactions.
This collaborative drawing was made by a group of brain injury patients, their families and scientists, led by artist Ivan Liotchev. As the group drew together, they discussed the challenges faced by people with brain injuries, as well as their hopes for the future and recent developments in brain science. Shared experience during the 2-hour workshop was key to the drawing's organic development, which the group decided was an expression of the inner workings of the mind.
Here are some other areas which we explored in detail in the exhibition (click to enlarge):
Children and their families were guided through the exhibition by an activity trail bringing another dimension to the themes raised in the works. The activities invited the audience to experience the effects of a brain injury through language and movement.
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