Press release

Exploration of rest and busyness announced as first project of The Hub at Wellcome Collection

The first residents of The Hub at Wellcome Collection, a flagship new space for interdisciplinary projects around health and wellbeing, will investigate the busyness of modern life. Bringing together a rich network of scientists, artists, humanists, clinicians, public health experts, broadcasters and public engagement professionals, the group will explore states of rest and noise, tumult and stillness, and the health implications for lives increasingly lived in a hubbub of activity. They have been awarded £1 million to develop the project over two years.

The group is led by social scientist Felicity Callard (Durham University) with core contributing members comprising psychologist and writer Charles Fernyhough (Durham University), broadcaster Claudia Hammond (BBC's 'All in the Mind' and 'Health Check'), neuroscientist Daniel Margulies (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences) and poet James Wilkes (University of East Anglia). The group will start their occupancy at Wellcome Collection in October 2014, as the venue opens new spaces and galleries after a £17.5m development.

The urge to be busy defines modern life. Rest can seem hard to find, whether in relation to an exhausted body, a racing mind or a hectic city. Should we slow down, or should we embrace intense activity? What effects do each of these states have on the health of our bodies and minds? Such questions frequently find their way into media reports and everyday conversations, but there has never been any sustained interdisciplinary attempt to answer them. The Hub will gather international experts investigating hubbub and rest at different scales, to breathe new life into the questions we ask about rest and busyness.

The ambitious project will be nourished by the research resources of Wellcome Collection, the Wellcome Library and the Wellcome Trust and will embrace the noisy city beyond and the people who live in it. The group, selected from 55 applications, will have freedom to develop ideas and outputs over their residency.

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. While neuroscientists study the 'resting' brain and mind, artists will explore the borders between signal, sound and noise, psychologists will track people’s bodily activity, and social scientists will map the city's noise and silences.

Felicity Callard says: "Our team is enormously excited to take up the first residency of The Hub, and to work with this extraordinary physical and conceptual space to showcase what can be achieved through experimental interdisciplinary endeavours. Our collaborative work on rest and noise will have members of the public at its heart and will create new possibilities for people from all backgrounds to find their own kinds of rest in the busy city. Through our research activities and creative adventures we want to transform how rest and its opposites are understood - and give us all an urgently needed intimacy with a hidden but vital part of our lives.”

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, says: “In a field of exceptional applications, Felicity Callard and her team inspired us with a topic of rich potential and pressing concern. The pressures and health implications of unrelenting activity are an inescapable but underexplored part of the environment of modern life. We look forward to the process and outputs of their collaborative curiosity and anticipate their work leaving rich a legacy for academic and creative inquiry, clinical practice and public policy and for The Hub's future as a crucible for innovative interdisciplinary research."