Reconstructing ourselves

Published in Features on 16 May 2014

This week I started a new project.

Reconstructing Ourselves is an artist in residency project combined with a research strand. It has been funded by Arts Council of Wales. We will be working with women undergoing complex breast reconstruction.

The research will focus on whether giving people a chance to make a one minute recording of what they want to say to the doctor and playing it at the start of the consultation will improve the quality of their experience. This strand will be led by Sarah Wright who is acting manager of the clinical trials unit at the College of Medicine, Swansea University.

The Art strand will look more in depth at the overall patient experience and will be led by Rhian Solomon as Artist in Residence in plastic surgery at Morriston Hospital. She has a track record of innovative work with plastic surgeons and is director of sKINship.

I will be working alongside Rhian and Sarah, recording patient stories and co-ordinating the collaboration. We will be creating a new website and blogging about the process of the collaboration over the next eighteen months. I will include a link to the website in a future creative bite. The project will culminate in an exhibition and symposium in autumn 2015.

I am interested in how the ripples from the project spread out through the Health Board and, as we started this week, I thought how helpful it was to combine the Arts and the research strand. Many people do not see the value of an Artist in Residence but instantly understand the value of the research idea. On the other hand I think the women and staff who get involved with the Art process will get enormous benefit from it and I know that Rhian’s insights and interventions will stimulate many people’s thinking and understanding in new and unexpected ways.