About this event

  • Date and time Thu 28 Nov 2019 from 7:00pm to 10:15pm
  • Location Royal Society of Medicine
  • Organised by Students, Reforming Anatomy

What is Health? Perspectives from Contemporary Art and Medicine

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” - World Health Organisation.

This will be the first of three events in a new series jointly organised by the RSM Students Committee and Reforming Anatomy, which will explore the intersection of contemporary art and medicine, synthesising science’s investment in objectivity and the arts’ focus on subjectivity to illuminate the conditions of human life.  

This series of events will be connected through the central discussion of “What is Health?” considering it's mental, social, and physical dimensions. Under this broad remit, we will debate questions such as ‘in what ways, and to what extent, can contemporary art support medical care?’; ‘how is health conceptualised in contemporary art and medicine, and how might these definitions become more complementary?’; and ‘how can we foster further collaborations between creatives and physicians, to support innovation and progress in the arts and medical practice?’.

Inspiring a collaborative and engaging atmosphere, the events will consist of dynamic and multifaceted programmes incorporating keynote talks, performances, short film screenings, and contemporary art exhibitions.

Each event will focus on one aspect of wellbeing. This first conference explores the relationship between creativity and mental wellbeing. The second event in the series will consider the interconnections between contemporary art, the climate crisis, and social wellbeing. The third and final event will explore the role of anatomical study in contemporary art and medicine and will debate issues and ideas pertaining to health and the body.


What is Mental Health?

Our first event in the series will illuminate and debate conceptions of mental health in contemporary art and medicine through lectures from leading academics and professionals, lively interdisciplinary debates and a performance from the Corali Dance Company. The conversation will be drawn together through an assessment of two common but opposing views:

  • That levels of creativity are commensurate with risk of suffering from psychological illness
  • That art constitutes an effective mode of treatment for mental health disorders

Through questioning these two perspectives, we will work towards reaching a conclusion on the relationship between the arts, mental wellbeing and holistic clinical practice.

Educational objectives:

  • Gain familiarisation and contact with individuals and charities that work in the cutting edge field of arts and health
  • Be able to appreciate the wide scope for creative practice in providing holistic and successful mental health care
  • Value critical thinking and debate to explore the art of clinical practice


View the programme 28 November 2019

Registration, tea and coffee, and short film screening
Welcome address from Reforming Anatomy
Try a Little Tenderness: Madness and Artful Caring

Dr Anna Harpin, Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance, University of Warwick

Culture & arts and mental health public programmes

Dr Errol Francis, Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer, Culture&

Communicating chronic pain in the clinical consultation

Dr Deborah Padfield, St George's, University of London, and Slade School of Fine Art

The Application of Neuroscientific Research in Architectural Design Practice

Kenny Sheppard, Trained architect and artist

Panel Discussion

 Corali Dance Company

Close of meeting


Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London, W1G 0AE, United Kingdom

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