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

27 March 2014

The Hub - sm
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."

Image: The Hub. Credit: Wellcome Images

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NOTES TO EDITORS
 
The Hub at Wellcome Collection is a new dedicated space and resource for interdisciplinary projects exploring medicine, health and wellbeing. The Hub will provide resources and a stimulating venue for researchers and other creative minds to collaborate on projects that explore medicine in historical and cultural contexts. Residencies will carry an allowance of £1 million and cover two academic years, encouraging outputs that generate new insights, new forms of engagement, new methodologies and new interventions.
 
Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, the venue explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The building comprises gallery spaces, a public events programme, the Wellcome Library, café, bookshop, conference facilities and a members' club.  Wellcome Collection is growing. A £17.5m development will deliver new galleries and spaces in autumn 2014. Find out more.
 
Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.
 
About the core group 
Felicity Callard is a geographer and historian of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience. She is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography and the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University and Visiting Researcher at King’s College London's Institute of Psychiatry. She is currently conducting interdisciplinary research with neuroscientists and psychologists on the ‘resting state’ in cognitive neuroscience (where the brain and mind are not responding to an explicit task). Felicity is Chair of the Board of the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, an international human rights organisation that advances the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems. 
 
Charles Fernyhough is a psychologist and writer. His recent academic work has focused on how humanities and scientific perspectives can be integrated in the study of human experience. He is a Professor of Psychology at Durham University, where he directs the interdisciplinary Hearing the Voice project (supported by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award). He is active in outreach and public engagement work, with regular contributions to mainstream media. His non-fiction books include 'The Baby in the Mirror' (Granta, 2008) and 'Pieces of Light' (Profile, 2012). He is the author of two novels: 'The Auctioneer' (Fourth Estate, 1999) and 'A Box of Birds' (Unbound, 2013).
 
Claudia Hammond is an award-winning broadcaster, writer and psychology lecturer. She is the presenter of 'All in the Mind' and 'Mind Changers' on BBC Radio 4 and 'Health Check' on BBC World Service Radio and BBC World News TV, and will continue to broadcast during the residency. She is a columnist for BBC.com and regularly appears on 'Impact' on BBC World News to discuss research in psychology. Claudia is on the part-time faculty at Boston University's London base. She is the author of 'Emotional Rollercoaster: A journey through the science of feelings' and 'Time Warped: Unlocking the mysteries of time perception', published by Canongate. 
 
Daniel Margulies is a neuroscientist with interests in investigating how brain activity at rest can be used to understand its organisation. He leads the Max Planck Research Group for Neuroanatomy and Connectivity at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. His research also addresses challenges in the visualisation of complex network data, and he collaborates with social scientists and historians on questions of the emergence of contemporary controversies in neuroscience. He is co-founder of the Neuro Bureau, an organisation dedicated to facilitating collaboration and open sharing of data and software across the neurosciences, arts, and related disciplines.
 
James Wilkes is a poet, writer and researcher, who has collaborated widely with scientists, artists and musicians to investigate topics such as brain imaging, speech, radio and landscape. His books include 'Weather A System' (Penned in the Margins, 2009), 'Reviews' (Veer, 2009) and 'A Fractured Landscape of Modernity' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). His residency as a poet with the Speech Communication Lab at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience resulted in new poems and critical reflections, live and radio conversations between scientists, writers and artists, and a symposium at the Science Museum's Dana Centre. He is currently a Postdoctoral Lecturing Fellow at the University of East Anglia.
 

 

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