Man walks into a gallery.
“Just getting a bit o’ culture, eh?”
hmm. I don’t think culture = art. Culture is just life, and the way of it. So yeah, of course its streamlines with health?!
Deveron Arts recently took the opportunity to collate information and responses on the successes and failures of their Cultural Health initiative. Some Culture a Day Keeps the Doctor Away was organised in collaboration with Engage Scotland; it was a full day of discussion and exploration into the concept of cultural health and the role of the cultural health worker.
Participants were a varied group of doctors, community health workers and other medical professionals, alongside artists, writers and art workers. This mix allowed a sharing of knowledge and experience regarding the correlation between culture and health.
During Some Culture a Day Keeps the Doctor Away Catrin Jeans articulated her methodology over the 18 month period she has held the position of Cultural Health Worker. Talks were also presented by Claudia Zeiske, who spoke to the participants about the Town is the Venue concept employed by Deveron Arts, and Dr. Roelf Dijkhuizen who told us about his experiences practicing medicine in varying cultural environments. This was an audience of participants as opposed to observers and each person was able to voice their opinion when asked to give an example of cultural health.
Breaking mundane conference tradition, an excursion around Huntly town was incorporated into this cultural health day. Participants were handed a trowel and some snowdrops and encouraged to do some guerrilla gardening. The planting of bulbs in locations of each person’s choosing throughout the town was developed through considering acts of peaceful protest. The dispersing of the white snowdrop mimics the giving of a white flower to conscientious objectors in war time. Deveron Arts has dedicated a lot of time to the planting of the Peace Wood, having secured Beuys’ acorns and conducted much research surrounding pacifism for the project Oaks & Amity, and so participants of the cultural health day were able to get involved in this project and an example of cultural health. Lunch too was homemade from wartime rationed recipes (though we may have snuck some extra sugar into the cakes for the day).
Separating into groups in the afternoon, continuing the mix between art and health workers, there was much questioning about the role of the cultural health worker and challenging of the definition of culture itself. The discussions have helped raise awareness and understanding of the term and have progressed a conversation about the tension between culture and health. The groundwork has been laid for defining and applying cultural health methodology, but the conversation continues.