A few years ago I was privileged to work with the UK Stroke Association in a fundraising capacity, highlighting the causes and measures to reduce the risk of stroke. Anyone can have a stroke, although there are some things that make you more at risk than others. It’s important to know what the risk factors are and do what you can to reduce your risk. For further information in the UK please visit https://www.stroke.org.uk or, in the US, http://www.strokeassociation.org
During this time I was honoured to meet the truly inspirational artist Mark Ware. Mark is a Fulbright Scholar and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. During 1996 Mark had a severe stroke, an event that suddenly and abruptly altered every aspect of his life. Since then, his artwork has become increasingly concerned with how his subjective experience has been altered by the changes in mind and body due to stroke.
Mark is now collaborating with neuroscientist Professor Hugo Critchley and his team at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, Brighton on The Wavelength project. The Wavelength Project will investigate and artistically interpret how we respond to natural versus, artificial light and sound. The science activities will inform the development and creation of a series of artistic outcomes, including original music compositions, multimedia performances, sound and light installations, creative workshops and creative field research activities. I was intrigued to know more about the project and Mark’s career to date so I was most please when he agreed to be interviewed.
What inspired you to become an artist?
Art encourages us to observe and express how we interact with the amazing world we live in. For me art soon became a form of ‘life note-taking’, forcing me to connect with, and appreciate, the here and now.
What’s your favourite medium and why?
My art is multimedia and includes various combinations of sculpture, photography, video, sound, digital imagery, writing, performance and light. I view my work as a la carte art where I am able to call upon whatever disciplines are required on any particular project. This allows me flexibility in terms of scale, complexity and context for the work.
Has your appreciation of art and its importance changed since having your stroke?
Yes. My stroke was severe and badly affected my cognitive and physical abilities. Although I didn’t welcome my stroke, from an artistic point of view it was fascinating because it gave me wonderful insights into the perceptual process. As a result, all of my post-stroke art is touched by my disability in some way. Art is so important to me now because it allows me to explore and express my altered subjective experiences caused by changes in mind and body due to my brain injury.
Do you feel society undervalues art as a therapeutic medium particularly with regards to neurological health and wellbeing?
Yes! Art is about what it is to be human and has the power to reach out and affect people on both conscious and subconscious levels. When I look back at myself immediately following my stroke in 1996, I remember two things: The determination to survive a life-threatening event and the desire to create art. Given my circumstances at the time, it is significant (to me) that the need to create art was as important as the need for life. Art is within us all and when produced with honesty, it can have a profound affect on the people who experience it.
What is the wavelength project?
The wavelength project is an extremely ambitious activity and will aim to seek answers to profound questions such as why is art important, and why do we create it?
Why are we drawn to the natural environment, marvelling at brilliantly coloured sunsets, for example? What impact do art and nature have upon health and wellbeing?
The project is an art/science collaboration between me and neuroscientist Professor Hugo Critchley and colleagues at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex. With contributions from Professor Critchley and the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, I will investigate how we respond to art and nature, focusing on differences between natural versus man made sounds and light.
What are its objectives and how do you see the project growing or gaining influence?
The project’s scientific investigations will inform the development and creation of a series of artistic outcomes, including original music compositions, multimedia performances, sound and light installations, creative workshops and field research activities.
Most people believe that the natural environment is good for us in terms of wellbeing and health. The wavelength project is seeking to provide scientific evidence to assess this belief, with artistic outcomes influenced by the results. In the long term, we aim to deliver results that may be of benefit to many people, including those who have experienced brain injury or suffer from disorders of consciousness.
If, as most of us believe, exposure to the natural environment is found to be beneficial to our conscious experience, this will support initiatives to protect, enhance and restore wildlife and our natural resources, on land and at sea. A vitally important outcome of the wavelength project will be to raise awareness of this need. In recognition of this important direction, Kent Wildlife Trust has also partnered with the project. The Trust will advise the wavelength project team on all issues concerning the natural environment and will collaborate on a variety of creative activities.
The artistic content of the wavelength project is supported by Arts Council England.
Some of you may already know I’ve worked for and supported a number of charities and charitable causes. This includes the World Stroke Organisation’s World Stroke Day.
In 2010, the WSO and its members worldwide launched the “1 in 6” campaign. The theme was identified to mirror the reality that one in six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. With the fight against stroke at a crossroads, WSO members and partners around the world joined in solidarity to put forth a simple life-saving message on this day, which is not to take chances. One in six people will have a stroke. It could be you or someone you know.
The World Stroke Campaign aims to disseminate essential life-saving information and share knowledge about actions and lifestyle behaviors that could avert the assault of stroke. The campaign will also identify opportunities to improve and educate the lay public on the fundamental need for appropriate and quality long-term care and support for stroke survivors, including the empowerment of stroke care-providers.
The facts remain:
- Stroke can be prevented.
- Stroke can be treated.
- Stroke can be managed in the long-term.
- 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime.
- Every 6 seconds stroke kills someone.
- Every other second stroke attacks a person, regardless of age or gender.
- 15 million people experience a stroke each year, 6 million of them do not survive.
- About 30 million people have had a stroke – most have residual disabilities
For further information on the campaign please visit the WSO website. If you are in the UK you can also visit the Stroke Association for further information on help and support. Equally if you are in the US please visit the US Stroke Association.
The UK Stroke Association is one of my chosen charities you can support when purchasing art from my online shop. If you would like to donate a % of the purchase price to another charity supporting stroke survivors and their families please let me know on your order form.
Ok, this is a blog primarily about the arts but art exists and often reflects the politics that surrounds us! Politicians come and go and it’s not the first time a British Prime Minister has died. However, few undoubtedly make as much of an impact in politics as Baroness Margaret Thatcher who passed away from a stroke last week.
This is important to highlight for two reasons. Firstly, I have been supporting the Stroke Association and trying to raise public awareness of the condition since I discovered that one in three people are likely to suffer one in their lifetime. 150,000 will have a stroke each year. One third will die, a third will be left with a life changing disability and a percentage will make varying levels of recovery . Statistically stroke kills more women than breast cancer and remains the major cause of adult disability in the UK. For further information on Stroke please visit http://www.stroke.org.uk/ in the UK and http://www.strokeassociation.org/ in the US or the World Stroke Association
The second reason I decided to say something about the former PM is the fact I was born and grow up in Thatcher’s Britain. There will always be a divided view regarding her legacy and whether she was ‘good’ for Britain. The recent celebrations and partying on the streets of Brixton, Bristol and Glasgow would suggest she won’t be missed! With a Grenadian background, I was keen to read the coverage of her death from a Commonwealth perspective, particularly remembering her position on the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
The following article has been taken from Caribbean Intelligence.com
A number of charity events and fundraising initiatives gain profile at this time of the year. One date to remember is World Stroke Day this October 29th. The World Stroke Campaign aims to disseminate essential life-saving information and share knowledge about actions and lifestyle behaviours that can reduce the likelihood of stroke. The campaign aims to improve and educate the public on the fundamental need for appropriate and quality long-term care for stroke survivors. It also underlines the need to support and empower stroke care-providers. I’ve been recently working with the UK’s Stroke Association and have decided to support the charity and its US counterpart, the American Stroke Association, through donating a percentage of sales from paintings sold at future exhibitions and events. A selection of prints and cards will also be made available for purchase on my new look website www.davidemmanuelnoel.com shortly.
Here are the facts:
o Stroke can be prevented.
o Stroke can be treated.
o Stroke can be managed in the long-term.
o 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime.
o Every 6 seconds stroke kills someone.
o Every other second stroke attacks a person, regardless of age or gender.
o 15 million people experience a stroke each year, 6 million of them do not survive.
o About 30 million people have had a stroke – most have residual disabilities
On World Stroke Day, October 29, 2010, the WSO and its members worldwide launched the “1 in 6” campaign. The theme was identified to mirror today’s reality that one in six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. With the fight against stroke at a crossroads, WSO members and partners around the world joined in solidarity to put forth a simple life-saving message on World Stroke Day: Do not take chances. One in six people are at risk of having a stroke. It could be someone you know. It could be you!
For further information on stroke please visit the following links
World Stroke Organisation –http://www.worldstrokecampaign.org
The Stroke Association http://www.stroke.org.uk/
American Stroke Association http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/