Re-imagining the care home: a spatially responsive approach to arts practice with older people in residential care

Nicola Hatton

This paper considers some of the spatial challenges of doing arts projects with older people in care homes, including those living with dementia. It reflects on the author’s own experience of running a performance project with residents with at a care home in North London. Drawing on Lefebvre’s concept of socially produced space, it argues that repetitive and task-oriented nature of caregiving can create particular challenges for artists who are bringing new activities in. However, rather than seeing the routine practices of a care home as a hindrance to creative activity, this paper suggests that an aesthetic engagement with the space itself can support artists and residents to re-imagine care homes as creative spaces in their own right. This argument is illustrated through an analysis of a sound project that took place in a care home dining room. In describing how the author worked with residents to explore the acoustic properties of the space, it suggests some ways in which artists may find inspiration from the care home environment. In particular, it considers the significance of atmosphere when doing arts practice in care homes as something which can create a shared sense of place. The paper concludes by considering the particular contribution of the artist to the culture of care in light of emerging concepts of relationship-centred care. It suggests that an aesthetic engagement with care homes can draw attention to the relational nature of caregiving, and the wider network of spaces that make up a care home environment.



Social Representations of Brain Research: Exploring Public (Dis)engagement With Contemporary Neuroscience

Cliodhna O’Connor, Helene Joffe

Recent years have seen a major expansion of the position of neuroscience in the mass media, public policy, and legal dialogue. Drawing on interviews with 48 London residents, this article examines how people with no prior involvement with neuroscience make sense of the concept of “brain research.” Thematic analysis of the data furnished little evidence that neuroscience has meaningfully infiltrated lay thinking. Respondents consigned brain knowledge to the “other world” of science, which was seen as a decidedly separate social milieu. They envisioned that the only route by which they might become alert to brain information would be if they developed a neurological illness. This article considers the social and psychological dynamics that shape neuroscience’s dissipation into public consciousness.


Mosaic: re-imagining the monolingual classroom through theatre-in-education

D. Pakkar-Hull

This article is a study of ‘Mosaic’ – a piece of multilingual theatre-in-education designed to promote linguistically diverse practices in primary schools in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Focusing on the relatively uncharted territory of applied theatre as a means of promoting multilingualism, and challenging a culture of monolingual teaching and learning, the article examines how the piece enabled schools to begin to be re-imagined as places where creative, multilingual pedagogy and practice could take root. Two key theoretical concepts frame the study: (1) Postman’s view of education as a ‘counter-argument’ to the prevailing biases of dominant cultural practices and (2) Bakhtin’s concept of ‘heteroglossia’, which links multilingual practices to their social, political and historical power hierarchies. Based on data collected during the touring of ‘Mosaic’ – primarily audio recordings made of the interactions of six participating pupils – the article explores how the participatory approach adopted in ‘Mosaic’ sowed the seeds of ‘counter-argument’ not only to challenge dominant monolingual norms but also to enable children to negotiate and perform new social identities in relation to their multilingual resources. Implications for practice and future research are also discussed.


Public Understanding of Science in turbulent times III: Deficit to dialogue, champions to critics

Melanie Smallman

As part of the 20th Anniversary of the Public Understanding of Science journal, the journal has been reflecting on how the field and journal have developed. This research note takes a closer look at some of the trends, considering the journal’s 50 most cited papers and using IRaMuTeQ, an open-source computer text analysis technique. The research note presents data that show that the move within public engagement from deficit to dialogue has been followed by a further shift from championing dialogue to criticising its practice. This shift has taken place alongside a continued, but changing, interest in media coverage, surveys and models of public understanding.