C2D2 Engagement 7a - ‘The Dark Self’ an exhibition combining art and science to promote awareness of Sleep Health to the general public

Project: Other internal award

Project participant(s)

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This funding is being used to support an exhibition of new work at St. Mary's Church in York which is the culmination of 3 years
collaborative work between Miles Whittington, the artist Susan Aldworth (susanaldworth.com) and Michael White from the Department of History of Art at York. The exhibition is inspired by research being undertaken at the University of York into promoting sleep health and will feature a collection of original monotype prints from Susan Aldworth exploring how to represent the ‘nothingness’ of deep sleep; a series of sculptures exploring the ‘space’ our sleep takes up in everyday lives by York-based sculptor Richard Mackness (http://www.richardmackness.com); a video installation depicting the three stages of sleep both from a scientific and artistic perspective by London-based multimedia artist Barney Quinton; and finally a large installation of pillows decorated by members of the public to represent the depth and diversity of what sleep means to each of us.

Layman's description

The Dark Self was shown at York St Mary's from 7 June – 3 September 2017 and was a major feature of York University’s Festival of Ideas in June 2017. 414 sleep-inspired embroidered pillowcases sewn by participants filled the nave of York St Mary’s, providing a unique testimony of sleep and a cultural snapshot of our sleeping lives.
The lead artist Susan Aldworth worked with exhibition designer Will Atkins and with art history and science students from York University on the installation of the exhibtion in St Mary's. Aldworth also produced 3 suites of work (23 works in all) with Steven Geddes in both plaster and porcelain entitled 'Indentations of Sleep' to explore how to make experience of nothingness (sleep) substantial.
A new video work entitled 'Dormez vous?' created by Aldworth and composer Barney Quinton which mixed archive footage, animation and live video of sleepers filmed by Emma Crouch was also shown.
The project received very good local and national publicity and a dynamic media campagin attracted 3,000 followers.
Th exhibition was one of the most popular held in York this summer, with nearly 15,000 visitors. Visitor comments were universally positive, acclaiming the quality and emotional impact of the works, and interest in the subject matter of sleep. The wide-ranging audience included University of York students and staff and members of the public. 
The event was publicised on BBC LOOK NORTH audience (audience of c. 991,000)
, BBC Local Radio Audience (53,000), 
York Arts and Health groups and 
local arts and sewing craft groups.

The enthusiasm of the audience, participants, curators and the Arts Council in York for the exhibition, has raised the strong possibility of touring The Dark Self both nationally or internationally.
The Dark Self has brought together neuroscientists and art historians at the University of York, who are keen to develop their relationship further.

Effective start/end date1/01/1731/03/17

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