Exploration of dementia announced as second project in The Hub

A group exploring dementia and the arts have been invited to take up the 2016–2018 residency in The Hub at Wellcome Collection. Bringing together a rich network including scientists, artists, clinicians, public health experts and broadcasters, the group will examine and challenge perceptions of dementia through scientific and creative experimentation. They have been awarded £1 million to develop the project over two years.

Giant spectacles

The group is led by project director Sebastian Crutch from the UCL Dementia Research Centre and project manager Caroline Evans, with a core team of:

  • Philip Ball, science writer
  • Paul Camic, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Nick Fox, UCL Dementia Research Centre
  • Charlie Murphy, visual artist
  • Fergus Walsh, BBC medical correspondent
  • Julian West, Royal Academy of Music
  • Gill Windle, Bangor University.

They will collaborate with a group of more than 60 individuals, charities and institutions working in, supporting and developing the field of dementia and the arts.

There are over 44 million people worldwide with dementia; this is predicted to increase to over 75 million by 2030 and over 135 million by 2050.

The inspiration for the project comes directly from the intriguing experiences, heart-rending questions and puzzling uncertainties of people living with dementia. Common (mis)conceptions of dementia will be challenged through integrated artistic and scientific investigation of less recognised symptoms associated with typical and rare dementias.

The team hope to enrich understanding about dementia by raising provocative questions about the healthy brain, our emotional reactions to change in ourselves and others, and the attributes by which we value and define humanity.

The Hub space at Wellcome Collection will provide a base for the group to perform rigorous, creative research and to stage scientific and artistic experiments, data-gathering and public events. The group will also have unique access to resources in Wellcome Collection, the Wellcome Trust and the Wellcome Library.

Residencies carry an allowance of £1 million and cover two academic years, encouraging outputs that generate new insights, forms of engagement, methodologies and interventions. The group will have freedom to develop ideas and outputs over their residency.

Sebastian Crutch, project director, said: "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring together people from so many different disciplines and backgrounds to engage in a practical and authentic piece of interdisciplinary research.  This project was spurred by hundreds of conversations with people living with different forms of dementia, and it is only by developing, deepening and broadening those conversations that we can achieve our goal of delivering novel toolkits, methodologies and ways of thinking to enable us to better understand and use the arts in dementia."

Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture and Society at Wellcome, said: "We are delighted that Sebastian Crutch and his group will be able to build on the Hub's reputation for pioneering interdisciplinary research connecting medicine, life and art in the heart of Wellcome Collection."

The group start their occupancy at Wellcome Collection in October 2016. They will be the second residents of the Hub, following Hubbub, a group exploring rest and busyness.