It's been a very interesting couple of weeks.
I've been writing and speaking to potential collaborators about getting involved in our planned project, and that has been a very positive experience. It has been really good to be able to make plans with long-standing collaborators, but the scope of a new project means that I've also been able to open up conversations with new collaborators, too, which is very exciting. One of the nicest discoveries has been the opening up of the grey area between 'new' and 'old' though. The Hub proposal is a license to pick up conversations with some of those people that one always means to work with, but for one or reason or another, never quite sets up the opportunity. The importance of picking up these loose ends and good intentions while they are meaningful has sadly been underlined for me this month, with the untimely death of a greatly admired and very successful colleague. I had shared a great many of these 'let's catch up and make a plan' conversations with this colleague, and I liked him very much: the intentions were genuine. There's a big hole in the clinical psychology community at Birmingham, and there are a lot of people (including me) trying to make sense of its sudden and unanticipated appearance.
A happier dimension of the process has been the permission to 'cross over' into non-academic territory. With Victoria thinking about visual arts, and Zoë reflecting on dance and performance, I've been thinking about successful co-production and collaboration, so I'm really pleased that Geoff Farina and Chris Brokaw (two very experienced and articulate musicians) have agreed to join us for an event and performance exploring these phenomena:
As a sometime musician myself, it will be quite liberating to work in zone where it is possible to draw on connections from my 'other life.'
Another thing that happened this month was that myself and another colleague from Project PERFECT took part in a two day conference at Birmingham about anomalous experiences. In my talk, I drew upon some images made by young people with first episode psychosis, from a study led by Angelica Attard, which Zoë and I are supervising:
Coincidentally, I also used a picture of some very famous outsider art (the Watts towers in Los Angeles) to make a rhetorical point about the informal nature of my argument in the talk:
It was really helpful to hear Angela Woods speaking at this event about the work done by the interdisciplinary 'Hearing the Voice' project at Durham. I was really impressed by the sheer range of activities that they've been getting involved in, and the large number of organisations that they've been working with. Hopefully we can put together a project which is as complex and coherent as Angela's project.
And I've had a minor brainwave. Lisa has said to me on more than occasion that it would be good to think of a way of capturing our vision for the project in a graphic way. In parallel, and without making the connection, I have been sketching out a lot of unsatisfactory diagrams, in an attempt to show all the connections between the different components of our plan. The solution to both problems has been in my wallet the whole time: a Tube map. So I've spent rather a lot of this morning trying to work out how to re-create the effect without infringing copyright!