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'...all the time, the buzzing' A Gentle Inquiry into Dark Matter in Arts Based Research

Parkinson, C (2015) '...all the time, the buzzing' A Gentle Inquiry into Dark Matter in Arts Based Research. In: 7th Annual International Arts and Health Conference, 17 - 19 November 2015, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. (In Press)


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It is now widely accepted that art and culture have a significant role to play in promoting health and wellbeing across the life course. Research into the impact of the arts on older people evidences increased wellbeing and through participatory group work, reduced isolation and loneliness. But what of the impacts beyond the ‘feel-good factor’? Is it possible that the arts might provoke feelings of frustration and anger? By enabling greater self awareness might the arts expose participants to feelings that have been subjugated by families and care providers? If the arts promote sentience beyond simple distraction, is it incumbent on artists and commissioners to act on the frustrations and desires of participants, even when the issues raised might challenge those deemed to be working in the ‘best interests’ of the individual? Through ongoing exchange with individuals and organisations, this chapter will explore the potential of the arts to enable engagement beyond intended outcomes, investigating what happens to uncomfortable data?

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