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Artists interpret IBD patients’ experience for exhibition

Artists interpret IBD patients’ experience for exhibition

A University of Wolverhampton arts and psychology exhibition featuring animation, illustration, film and graphic design was launched recently as part of a research project focusing on family planning for women living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). 

The project has explored the lived experience of the reproductive journey for women and their partners from preparing to start a family, being pregnant and after having a child. It has also reflected women who do not want to have children. 

IBD incorporates two conditions - Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The project secured £11,000 funding from Crohn’s and Colitis UK Research via Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. 

Four artists were commissioned to present patient experiences guided by clinical practitioners from Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust New Cross Hospital and Crohn’s and Cholitis UK. Sorrel Milne (animator), Jessica Butcher (illustrator), Rae Francis (graphic designer) and Paul Stringer (documentary filmmaker).  

The artists were provided with IBD information from healthcare professionals, including anonymised transcripts of women being interviewed as well as guidance from Crohn’s & Colitis UK to form their artistic concepts and final interpretations.  

Three of the artists have created engaging pieces of work including a short, animated film, infographics, leaflets, social media assets and comic book style information booklets based on their interpretation of academic research data. The documentary maker captured the whole project, this being the initial aims of the research and particularly the thought processes of the artists and how they "saw" and/or imagined the stories of the women and their partners visually. 

The research findings will support women living with IBD as well as offering insights for healthcare professionals. 

Maggie Ayliffe, Head of the University’s Wolverhampton School of Art, said: “The University is a keen advocate of how arts and culture can help to develop dialogue and convey clinical messages in innovative ways for what can often be seen as uncomfortable conversations in UK society. 

“We work with clinical teams to understand the messages that they aim to get out. We then commission artists who 'see' the message in very different and mindful ways. Their work is invariably evocative and impactful. It is an absolute joy to see the end products that one does not envisage at the outset of these projects. I think we are all proud at the University to have worked with these very talented clinical teams AND creative practitioners.” 

Professor Matthew Brookesclinical Gastroenterologist at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “This research project has been undertaken over the last three years as part of a collaborative multi-stakeholder project. The project has been shaped and co-designed with patients and the public and has given my team a unique insight into the perceptions of patients with IBD around family planning.  

“The work with artists has enabled our team to develop novel ways to share the outcomes of the research and gives us a way to communicate more effectively and widely with other IBD patients and their families. I’m really excited about the opportunities to collaborate with the artists to enable us to more efficiently communicate with patients and research participants in the future, and to evaluate the impact of this current research.  

The art exhibition is currently taking place in the University of Wolverhampton Harrison Learning Centre at its City Campus and was accompanied by an online panel discussion with Q&As about the project on 30 November. 

The academics and clinicians involved in the project are Maggie Ayliffe, Head of the Wolverhampton School of Art, Rebecca Homer, Research Assistant at the University, Dr Satvinder Purewal, Institute of Psychology at the University, Helen Sargeant, Project Manager at the University, Professor Helen Steed, Professor of Gastroenterology and Medical Education in the University’s Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, Professor Matthew Brookes, clinical Gastroenterologist at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Scott Knight, Business Development Manager for the Faculty of Arts, Business and Social Sciences at the University, Dr Christian Selinger, researcher with expertise lies within Gastroenterology, especially inflammatory bowel disease and endoscopy, Dr Wladzia Czuber-Dochan and Dr Sarah Chapman, researchers interested in IBD. 

Picture caption: Jessica Butcher (Illustrator).

Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days. 


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